This week we welcome Lauren Beth Ferebee and her new work in response to Psalm 137.
Psalm 137 by Lauren Beth Ferebee
From the Artist
In thinking about Psalm 137, I was struck by the phrase “daughter Babylon” – the female personification of land, which is a theme that recurs in history and in literature – the female body as a space to be mapped, conquered, and known. I thought about this in relationship to the Psalm’s overall discussion of self-silencing – the act of not wanting to sing for those that keep you captive, and yet knowing that if you don’t sing for long enough, if you are silent for long enough, you will forget your song.
“while in a foreign land” explores what silence does to memory: how the real violence in the act of conquering and destruction is an act of forgetting. I deconstructed this narrative to look at small pieces of it from different points in time, overlaid with video highlighting different aspects of the female body in space and how we respond to it.
In particular, I examined the narrative of sex slavery in our culture, and how we distance ourselves from its brutal reality. I struggled with that even in researching it. Learning about young – very young, impossibly young – girls being tortured, drugged, and kidnapped all over the world (even in our country) was a wake-up call for me. Women distanced from their bodies even as they are defined by their bodies.
This piece is only the beginning of a long examination of everything I found when I started digging – the beginning of my artistic confrontation with the subjugation of women’s bodies, and the way that global patriarchy systematically condones the separation of women from their deepest selves, through violence, through language, through culture, ultimately resulting in their decision to silence themselves, as the speakers of Psalm 137 choose to silence themselves, even as they fear forgetting the roots of their songs.
Lauren Ferebee’s play Somewhere Safer recently premiered at the 2013 NYC International Fringe Festival and joined her published short plays Bob Baker’s End of the World and jericho, jericho online at Indie Theater Now. Her other full-length works include Blood Quantum (At Hand Theatre/WET Productions), Invisibility, or Tiny Rockets (Adaptive Arts), and the reckless season. Her work has also been developed with Spark and Echo Arts, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, ESPA/Primary Stages, Adaptive Arts, and Flux Theatre Ensemble. Lauren is a proud member of playwriting collective Lather, Rinse, Repeat, blogs at The Famous Explorer’s Society, and co-founded experimental performance video blog tinydanceconcerts. She works as writer, actor, mover and deviser. BFA, NYU/Tisch.
This work was curated by Emily Clare Zempel.
This work is copyrighted by the artists and used here with permission.