When Sara Farb speaks, her big brown eyes sparkle, expressing a passion for life.
Farb, 21, is an actor, playwright, director and singer, who most recently was seen as Tess in The Sisters Rosensweig at the Jane Mallet Theatre. In addition to acting, singing and writing, Farb studies English literature at the University of Toronto.
When you see Farb in action, on stage or in person, you know you are witnessing the blossoming of an incredible talent. I had the pleasure of first seeing her at the Tarragon’s Paprika Festival last spring, where she wrote, directed and performed in her one-woman show, R-E-B-E-C-C-A, an autobiographical glimpse into the world of her 15-year-old sister, who is developmentally challenged.
Farb plays her real-life sister, Rebecca, who has the mental capacity of a three-year-old, but emotionally is going through the typical angst of a teenaged girl.
Although the play is only 20 minutes long, it is an extremely candid and riveting work, capsulizing Rebecca’s innermost thoughts about her family, being “mentally retarded” and coming of age. The script reveals these sentiments, as if Rebecca were able to articulate her own feelings and thoughts.
Farb wrote R-E-B-E-C-C-A to explore the dilemma that she herself has faced throughout her life. “Is it possible to be jealous of someone who is mentally retarded? Even now, when I’m studying for exams, I often think to myself, “This is something Rebecca is never going to have to worry about. If she does, it’s on a simpler level. How can you not envy something like that?”
Farb said having a sister like Rebecca is “a gift. Cousins, grandparents and friends are all involved with Rebecca. Everyone adores her.”
The audience squirmed in their seats for a second or two when Rebecca first blurts out to the audience that she is mentally retarded.
By the time Rebecca turned one, her development was noticeably delayed and her parents searched for an answer. When they took her to Boston, the doctors confirmed that Rebecca was indeed “mentally retarded.”
“For the first few years, it was fine because Rebecca could get away with being adorable, but as she grew up, she has stayed two to three years old, is going through puberty, and it’s really hard. There’s no filter, there are no social graces.”
Farb’s family has been extremely supportive of the play, but they do find it difficult to watch, as it hits very close to home.
“People have asked me if it’s is difficult to do the play and how I go there.I treat it as another endeavour. I really don’t let it get to me.”
R-E-B-E-C-C-A has been well received and was recently presented at the Luminato festival and Summerworks.
Farb has also co-produced Edges, a song-cycle that will be remounted by a professional theatre company this fall.