Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music Gets “Philadelphianized” at the Kimmel Center, June 2 & 9

30 May 2018

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Taylor Mac, A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC, photo by Teddy Wolff.

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Taylor Mac, A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC, “Decade 3 (1796-1806).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.

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Taylor Mac, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, “Decade 6 (1826-1836).” Photo by Teddy Wolff.

On June 2 and 9, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts presents the Philadelphia premiere of MacArthur fellow Taylor Mac’s epic performance work A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Originally performed as one 24-hour performance, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated work can be seen in Philadelphia in two 12-hour performances, with exclusive local components.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, the show has been “Philadelphianized,” featuring a number of local artists and groups, including Pew Fellow Dito van Reigersberg, Cynthia Hopkins, dance theater company Tangle Movement Arts, and the Camden Sophisticated Sisters/Distinguished Brothers drill team.

“We’ve been doing the show all over the place, and we always start in 1776, and never have we been able to start in [Philadelphia], the place where it began,” Mac said in a conversation with Kimmel Center producing artistic director Jay Wahl. “That's thrilling to me in a lot of ways to have location, scene and narrative all kind of line up together. What I say in the show is that it’s not about history, it’s about that we have a lot of history on our backs, and we’re all in this room together trying to figure out what to do with it.”

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.  

Presented as part of the 2018 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, the Philadelphia production will “most probably [be] the last time” that the 246-song piece will be performed this way, Mac told the Inquirer. The June 2 performance will cover 12 decades from 1776–1896, while the June 9 performance will close the festival with the remaining 12 decades, from 1896–present.
Tickets here>>

Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, courtesy of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, courtesy of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.