2016 Artist in Residence Lauren Ferebee shares the final development of her "Book of (H)ours," reflects on her presentation of the work, and looks forward to how she would like to continue the development of her piece that illuminated Proverbs 8.
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1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. 5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
In Proverbs 8, Wisdom says:
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. (vv. 1-5)
On a cold Saturday at the end of November, right before Thanksgiving, about twenty people gathered into a small house generously donated by a friendly organization to listen to me talk for an hour. They were people intentionally invited to share an intimate experience with me, which was the book of hours I created over the last year. I invited each person individually to the performance, and they were mainly people I have met over the last year in Dallas.
At the bottom of this post, you can see the intimate setup. The stage was a music stand, a stool, and a lamp. Each audience member, upon arriving, selected a hand-held instrument to use, and they marked the transitions from hour to hour with their instruments.
I performed with no makeup, in a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. I left my ideas about who I was and who I was supposed to be at the door, and I let who I was in honesty lead the way forward. It was very scary, and I still don’t know if I did it “right,” but I know that in that space of speaking and being listened to, I learned a lot.
I have plans in the works to continue this piece. My dream is to tour it to all the places where I have community, and to share it with those communities.
When I began this project in January, I had anticipated creating a large online resource. However, after much discussion with friends and evolution of my own ideas, what I realized was that this would not, actually, be in the spirit of the book of hours or of wisdom. A book of hours was a personal object, made with painstaking work, made for someone on a journey of self-discovery. The template I made for my own book of hours was my own version of that, and it was how I performed it.
What I know of wisdom, what I have learned over the last year, is that it is created in the space between people, in communication and understanding. I think Wisdom herself, in Proverbs 8, understands this. As I meditated on the figure of wisdom, standing at the gate, or on the hill, I was struck by the comparable women throughout history, who have called out truth to the masses, often without response, or little response. There is nothing impersonal about it, nowhere to hide behind. To be Wisdom, you have to put your body in space, speaking words, to others. It is just that simple. To receive and ask for wisdom is a deeply personal experience, and a radical sharing of oneself with others
In that spirit, I have chosen to share only a piece of what I created that night. However, in thinking about how to share with you the process that I went through, I decided the most beneficial offering I could make would be a template, which you can download here. The template is a guide to making your own book of hours. I suggest doing it with others: perhaps six others, so everyone can take on a day.
I continue on my quest to make contemplative objects for others: that practice will take longer and be more time-intensive than I had imagined, but I have found each moment spent creating to be an incredible gift.
Lauren Ferebee is a Texan native and a multidisciplinary artist whose primary mediums are playwriting and installation/video art.
Most recently, her play The Reckless Season was selected for Stage West’s Southwest Playwriting Competition Festival of New Works, and her alternative screwball comedy Sexual Geography was a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award at the Bloomington Playwrights’ Project. In 2014, she was a juried fellow at Saltonstall Arts Colony, a semifinalist for the Shakespeare’s Sister fellowship and the first theatre-artist-in-residence at HUB-BUB in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where in addition to writing, she did community-based theatre work.
Her most recent work includes Sexual Geography (developed at HUB-BUB), The Reckless Season (The Spartanburg Little Theatre/HUB-BUB), Somewhere Safer (FringeNYC 2013, Inkwell finalist), and Blood Quantum (At Hand Theatre & WET Productions). Three of her short plays, jericho, jericho, Bob Baker’s End of the World and The Pirate King are published online at indietheaternow.com, where Somewhere Safer is also published as part of the 2013 Fringe Collection.
She is a member of playwriting collective Lather, Rinse, Repeat, and studied playwriting, screenwriting and television writing at Primary Stages/ESPA. Lauren also has regional and NYC credits as an actress on stage and in film, and from 2007-2010 was co-artistic director of a site-specific classical theatre company, Rebellious Subjects Theatre. She especially enjoys acting in and teaching Shakespeare and working on new plays. She holds a BFA in drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.