A night in Oz with Alexander’s ‘Over the Rainbow’
What do you hope to find in a room? How do you want to use this space? Whether it be engaging in a one-on-one performance, simply witnessing others partake or staying for one rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” all is welcome as FK Alexander takes over the STAMPS gallery with her performance of “(I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow” starting this Friday, Jan. 26.
The space will be open to everyone and every experience. Alexander argues that one reaction is just as valuable as another.
“Whatever people’s responses are, I hope they know that they are equal and that they are all welcome,” said Alexander in an interview with The Daily. “Some people want to stay there forever and some people turn out after 10 minutes and they’re just like, ‘she’s just doing that one song.’”
The performance consists of multiple renditions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” backed my the Okishima Tourist Association playing noise music out of small, mysterious, Oz-esque boxes.
“They’re playing a kind of lull of noise; It’s not totally chaotic noise, it’s very carefully crafted,” Alexander said. Not only does it add background to the performance, but it also complicates the song. “It brings out a tension in the song, and the song is also bringing about a tension in that soundscape that’s happening.”
“There is not a story. There is not a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s this. It’s one thing,” Alexander explained. But while the performance itself is not a story, the audience creates a story on the spot. Each individual narrative may differ vastly, but it is the collective narrative that creates the story as a whole.
While the idea of an entire performance consisting of just one song may initially seem a bit daunting, it is in the repetition, the connection and the experience in which individuals will find meaning. Through repetition, Alexander strives to experience what Judy Garland may have experienced over the course of her life.
“For everyone who heard Judy sing it in a concert, that was the one and only time she was going to sing it for them,” Alexander explained. For each and every repetition to be for someone and to be more than just one of many: That honesty and sincerity were fundamental aspects that inspired this show.
“The sacrifice which Judy made for other people to have this moment, where maybe they felt like they were over the rainbow, was just devastatingly poignant and beautiful to me.” In an attempt to reveal this beautiful sacrifice, Alexander’s performance ventures to give more people an over the rainbow moment.
There are so many ways that we try to make others understand, but too often it feels incommunicable. There is only so much that words can do, and at a certain point they lose any sort of power at all. Alexander argued that words can even block the way to pure understanding.
“As much as words can really allow people to understand what you are trying to say, they can also really alienate people as well,” Alexander said.
But then, art steps in. Pathways to communication open as art, and performance give people an experience, or a “sensation,” which permits understanding. Alexander uses the power of performance to communicate her own, and Judy Garland’s, experiences with her audience.
Alexander is far from lacking in experience. Stemming from her recovery, her performance has less to do with the unimaginable hardships and everything to do with the fight back. Through Judy’s experience, Alexander realized that the “struggle is beautiful,” and that “the fight against the parts of yourself that are saying ‘you can’t do this,’ that is actually just as beautiful as success.”
“What Judy really spoke about a lot was that this struggle towards a happy ending was life, that was the thing. Over the rainbow doesn’t exist,” Alexander said, “but maybe there are moments in our lives when we feel it, when you do get a little bit over the rainbow moment, but you can’t live there, you can’t live in Oz.”
Honest, selfless and empowering, FK Alexander’s performance opens the door for the audience to reflect and learn by experience. Promoting connection and communication through her performance, there will be something to take away for every individual, even if it is just knowing whether you want to be there at all. In a world where both communication and acceptance can feel impossible, spending an hour where those things thrive makes it hard to turn away.
Perseverance is a struggle that we all face, but the beauty in continuing on is sometimes hard to see. It is from Judy Garland that FK Alexander found her way to recovery, and it is from FK Alexander that the audience will find inspiration to keep going through whatever may stand in their way.
“Can’t go on, can’t go on, but you’ll go,” Alexander said. “If you just keep going then it will get better; it will get better tomorrow even.”