Ben Freeman (he/him) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator/facilitator, and spiritual leader based in Brooklyn. His work as a facilitator has found organizational homes like Lucasfilm; the childcare workers’ union of Rhode Island; FriendshipWorks, and Lab/Shul, where he is on staff as Associate Clergy and runs cohort programming for three different B Mitzvah programs. Ben holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, a BA in Theater Arts and Performance Studies from Brown University, and a certificate in nondenominational spiritual direction from Still Harbor.
As a theater artist, Ben’s work includes, This Is a Play I Wrote in the Fifth Grade and I’m Still Waiting for My Pulitzer, a riotous tragedy that was,in fact, written in fifth grade; andThe Shape of the Entire, developed in conjunction with The Skeleton Rep(resents), a company exploring modern myth.
Ben is a musical artist whose discography includes the full-length album Quiet Fury (2022), the EP Providence (2015), and several singles. He is also a regular concert performer.
Last winter I began to have periodic trouble sleeping. One night, having desperately perfumed the house with lavender and taken a hot shower before settling down with my cup of Yogi brand Bedtime tea and, despite my best intentions, being awake at 3 in the morning gritting my teeth through a supposedly relaxing YouTube meditation, the image of the Biblical Jacob wrestling the angel/stranger popped into my mind. “Wonder what’s keeping *him* up at night,” I thought. The idea of a play was born: what if the myth of Jacob wrestling the angel/stranger was set at a contemporary insomniac’s retreat? And what if him earning a new name through the encounter was the prism through which we might come to understand not only our own preoccupations that keep us up at night, but all the sweet and silly and tragic ways we try to defend ourselves against them? Working in the spiritual world I’m deeply attracted to balms and deeply skeptical of them at the same time. The only way to sleep is to relax, to let go. Whole self-help industries have been built on this promise — and yet they themselves are often peddling just another thing to grasp onto, another way to insulate ourselves from the many things that are scary in the night. Death and our own insignificance among them. In the course of this residency I propose to draft a new full-length play and/or ritual theater experience based on this concept.