Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Taylor Mac, A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC, “Decade 3 (1796-1806).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.
Taylor Mac, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, “Decade 11 (1876-1886).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.
Taylor Mac, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, “Decade 12 (1886-1896).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.
Taylor Mac, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, “Decade 6 (1826-1836).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts presented the Philadelphia premiere of Taylor Mac’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated performance work A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, as part of the 2018 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. Hailed by The New York Times as a “sublime” production about “artistic confrontation, reinterpretation, and personal transcendence,” the show includes hundreds of popular songs from 1776 to the present, along with original text that highlights critical moments in the nation’s history: from the Civil War and California Gold Rush to the Great Depression and Women’s Liberation Movement. Audience members became active participants in a 240-year journey through US history, and Philadelphia artists joined the production. “Performing the entire work in Philadelphia, the meeting place of the Founding Fathers of the United States, will be greatly different from anywhere else,” Mac said. “Local histories are incorporated, [and] songs that come from the region are inserted.” The Philadelphia iteration, co-presented with Pomegranate Arts, maintained much of the work’s original durational aspect: Covering one decade per hour, Part I opened the festival with a 12-hour performance, and Part II closed the festival with the remaining 12 decades.
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