Firstworks & Brown Arts Initiative Co-Present A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC (ABRIDGED)
FirstWorks and the Brown Arts Initiative at Brown University will co-present MacArthur Fellow and Tony-nominated performer and playwright Taylor Mac in an artist residency taking place September 12-15, 2019. The residency features the Rhode Island premiere of Mac's critically acclaimed performance A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged) on September 14 at The VETS. A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this bedazzled mashup of music, history and theater decodes the social history of the United States-all 240 years-through 246 songs that were popular throughout the country and in its disparate communities, from 1776 to the present day. The 2-hour abridged performance features selections spanning the 24-hour work.
Told from the perspective of communities whose stories are often, according to Mac, "forgotten, dismissed or buried," the work highlights an array of musical styles and artistic voices ranging from folk songs, ballads and Walt Whitman to disco and more. The performance is part of FirstWorks' Artistic Icons Series with ticket information at first-works.org.
"Taylor Mac champions the outsider in this performance that is both provocative and interactive. In a time when forces seem to be tearing communities apart, Mac celebrates our diversity in ways that both shock and delight," said Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks Founder and Executive Artistic Director.
Brown Arts Initiative Managing Director Anne Bergeron said, "We are delighted to welcome Taylor Mac to the Brown and Providence community. Mac doesn't just expose social biases and boundaries in his work, but artfully confronts and topples them. This action is at the core of a liberal arts education at Brown."
A 24-Decade History of Popular Music premiered in its entirety in 2016 at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse. The performance was presented over two weeks in various segments and concluded with a one-time, 24-hour tour de force. It was recognized by The New York Times on its 2016 lists of Best Performances, Best Theater and Best Music and received rave reviews.
In performing the work, Mac is joined by a band-led by Music Director Matt Ray, who created new arrangements of all of the songs. The audience is essential to Mac's spectacular pop odyssey, participating in immersive moments that are by turns deeply touching and hilarious.
Mac's team includes celebrity costume designer Machine Dazzle, who was recently in Providence for a FirstWorks community workshop during PVDFest. Dazzle returns during the September residency to outfit Mac in his signature, one-of-a-kind regalia.
Residency events also include a keynote lecture delivered by Mac on September 12, and a panel discussion featuring Mac along with theater arts and performance scholars Sean F. Edgecomb, Kareem Khubchandani and David Román on September 15. Both the keynote and panel discussion take place at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University. The lecture and panel discussion are free and open to the public but require advance registration at arts.brown.edu.
NOTE: Audience participation occurs during the performance. Additionally, performance and residency events may include mature content and are intended for adult audiences.
Taylor Mac (who uses "judy," lowercase sic, not as a name but as a gender pronoun) is one of the world's leading theater artists. A playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer, and "Critical darling of the New York scene" (New York Magazine), judy's work has been performed in hundreds of venues including New York City's Town Hall, Lincoln Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, The Public Theatre, and Playwrights Horizons, as well as London's Hackney Empire and Barbican, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, LA's Ace Theater (through UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance), Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, The Melbourne Festival (Forum Theater), Stockholm's Sodra Theatern, the Spoleto Festival, and San Francisco's Curran Theater and SF MoMA.
judy is the author of many works of theater including the forthcoming Prosperous Fools, and the previously produced works, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Hir, The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, Comparison is Violence, The Lily's Revenge, The Young Ladies Of, Red Tide Blooming, The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac, Cardiac Arrest or Venus on a Half-Clam, The Face of Liberalism, Okay, Maurizio Pollini, A Crevice, and The Hot Month. Taylor Mac's Tony-nominated Gary, A Sequel to Titus Andronicus debuted on Broadway this spring.
Sometimes Taylor acts in other people's plays (or co-creations). Notably: Shen Teh/Shui Ta in The Foundry Theater's production of Good Person of Szechwan at La Mama and The Public Theater, in the City Center's Encores production of Gone Missing, Puck/Egeus in the Classic Stage Company's A Midsummer's Night Dream, and in the two-man vaudeville, The Last Two People on Earth opposite Mandy Patinkin and directed by Susan Stroman.
Mac is a MacArthur Fellow, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama and the recipient of multiple awards including the Kennedy Prize, a NY Drama Critics Circle Award, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim, the Herb Alpert in Theater, the Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, two Bessies, two Obies, two Helpmanns, and an Ethyl Eichelberger Award. An alumnus of New Dramatists, judy is currently a New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect and the Resident playwright at the HERE Arts Center. http://taylormac.org/