Taylor Mac’s Magical, Musical Throwback to the 1800’s [Berkshire on Stage]

April 7th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara
Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac

“Fabulousness can come in many forms, and Taylor Mac seems intent on assuming each and every one of them,” The New York Times recently noted. From 4-10pm on Saturday (April 9) at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center, the inimitable artist presents a six-hour work-in-progress performance of six decades of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. His performance will cover the period from 1836-1896, each decade receiving about an hour of exposition from Mac’s wildly ambitious, multi-year effort to chart the history of popular music in America from the nation’s founding in 1776 to the present day. The performance caps off a two-week residency in North Adams by Mac and collaborators. MASS MoCA gallery hours will be extended until 7pm on Saturday, as viewers are encouraged to come and go during the six-hour performance.

Taylor Mac (who prefers the gender pronoun “judy”) is a New York-based theater artist, playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, cabaret performer, performance artist, director and producer whose many talents combine in the spectacular A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. The project is a unique mash-up of music, history, performance and art. In it, judy performs songs spanning the history of America, with approximately one hour of performance (and a riotous corresponding costume by longtime Mac collaborator Machine Dazzle) dedicated to each decade.

Since the undertaking began in 2012, Mac – who was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in Theater/Performance Art on Wednesday (April 6) – has been creating shows covering single decades or a few decades at a time; judy will stitch these together in the 24-hour extravaganza planned for New York City this fall, in which judy will be joined by a 24-piece orchestra, dancing beauties and an array of special guests.

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A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is a vibrant whirlwind of musical theater, drag performance and historical storytelling that delights audiences with razor-sharp wit and musical brilliance. Artforum has called the project a “face-wrenchingly funny…chronicle of sex, repression, expression and community” and said, “Mac is a master performer, riveting storyteller and charismatic, otherworldly creature, dressed to the tens in artist/designer Machine Dazzle’s magnificent metamorphic glitz.” The Los Angeles Times has described it as simply “glorious.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.