This weekend, my roommate and I made our way for the first time to the Stamps Gallery lobby. There we were handed vibrant pink and yellow earplugs and told to wait near the ticketing table. As a small group gathered, sonic noise (there is no other descriptor for it) started up from a cornered off section of the large room. A man came out and in a pleasant shout over the noise told us that if we wanted FK Alexander to sing to us, we just had to hand her our ticket. We were encouraged to move around during the show and assured we did not need to be sung to unless we wanted to be. With that, we entered through the black curtains partitioning us from the sound.
I waited two seconds and then stuffed my ear plugs into my ears; even muffled I didn’t feel I was missing the effect. I sat down on a cushion placed at the very front of the audience line and waited eagerly.
In her artists’ statement, FK Alexander says that she strives for healing and recovery “through sensory overload together with grueling repetition and ritual”. If my experience counts for anything, I would have to say she’s onto something.
By the third person to be song to, I knew her ritual well enough to recite it (for those of you I convince to attend, I won’t ruin it for you). But it’s then that suddenly I remembered I’d been in a community production of The Wizard of Oz when I was in the 4th grade. When the last show was over, I remember clutching a box of my make-up, shoes, and gifts from the cast, and crying into my mother’s shoulder completely heartbroken. I’d had such an amazing time in the show and when it was over I didn’t know what to do.And this memory led me to how my mom and I used to always watch Judy Garland movies when I was little; we’d sing her songs around the house. And that made me miss my mom and realize I hadn’t called her in awhile. Suddenly my eyes were a little watery; I couldn’t tell you how many times FK Alexander had sung the song at that point. I decided to move locations, maybe someplace further from the stage where the base of the noise wouldn’t pound so violently in my chest and make my eyes blink so much.
Standing at the back of the space, I was able to watch FK Alexander’s face better as she sang to each individual. Watching her eyes and the slight tweaks of her mouth, I was able to see her form a connection with everyone she sang to; being witness to this was a beautiful experience in itself. So while I didn’t get sung to in that hour, I walked away feeling a little lighter.
I encourage anyone who is remotely interested in the experience I just described to go see (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow before they leave Ann Arbor. You may be surprised by what you remember about yourself or how overwhelming sound can leave you feeling less overwhelmed.
Friday, January 26 8pm
Saturday, January 27th, 8pm (This performance is 3 hrs with no intermission)
Tuesday, January 30, 7:30pm
Wednesday, January 31 7:30pm
Thursday, February 1 7:30pm
Friday, February 2 8pm
Saturday, February 3 9pm
Location: Stamps Gallery