Weiss ’03 blends entertainment with service

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Jacob Weiss ’03, right, with violinist and Playing By Air co-star Ben Detrick. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

Jacob Weiss ’03 and brother Daniel ’01 started juggling when they were 10 and 12 years old, but Jacob Weiss didn’t take his hobby on stage until he was a sophomore at Princeton. Since then, he has developed a knack for combining juggling, music, physical comedy, and amusing storylines, staging shows at Princeton and at Vanderbilt, where the computer science grad earned a Ph.D. in biomedical informatics.

With his latest show, Playing By Air, Jacob Weiss is aiming to add another dimension to his entertainment. On July 17 and 18, the four-man cast will perform at the Nashville Children’s Theater for audiences that include cancer survivors and members of more than 25 cancer patient support groups in the Nashville area. In addition to providing a fun show, Weiss hopes that the gathering will serve as a networking opportunity, building on his Ph.D. research, which involved creating an online community and other web resources for cancer survivors.

On stage, Weiss says that the show has content that appeals to both adults and children — a “down-to-earth Cirque du Soleil.” Playing By Air will be making a handful of tour stops in the coming months, including a series of performances at the New York Fringe Festival in August.

Weiss’ style has evolved since he first juggled on the Frist Campus Center stage, but he credits those performances with sparking his creative drive: “It all originated at Princeton.”

VIDEO: Watch a trailer compiled from a 2009 Playing By Air performance