24 things to expect when going to Taylor Mac’s ‘A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act’

What do you get when a performance artist, writer, phenomenal singer and drag queen who has been the recipient of a Genius Grant (aka Taylor Mac) collaborates with an astonishing costume designer (Machine Dazzle), an incredible composer (Matt Ray), a 22-piece orchestra and a team of extravagant ‘Dandies’ (among others)?

A 24-hour durational piece tracing the history of popular music in America. An hour for each decade, from 1776-2016. Divided in eight three-hour instalments. If you manage to catch part 1, part of the Barbican’s ‘The Art of Change’ season, here’s what to prepare for:

  1. Six people knitting on stage for three hours
  2. Lots and LOTS of glitter
  3. People taking off their shoes in the (Barbican’s) theatre
  4. Audience members putting on pieces of drag costume
  5. Sipping free cans of beer and playing beer pong with 1000+ others
  6. A rain of shredded historical texts falling down on you from the upper circle
  7. Nudity
  8. 1000+ people biting an apple at the same time
  9. Adults having fun like kids
  10. Absolutely lavish costumes and a flamingo shaped pool
  11. A marriage of folklore and queer stories
  12. A history lesson
  13. Gender bending
  14. Incredible singing and (live) music
  15. Audience members sharing their best puke stories
  16. A few memorable gems of wisdom
  17. An extraordinary feeling of community
  18. Fun
  19. A rowdy audience
  20. Water pistols
  21. Stories about chicken wings and vaginas
  22. Comfort
  23. Discomfort
  24. An unforgettable, highly impressive, multi-disciplinary, super original and very ‘extra’ show.


Not for the faint of heart. Not for the uptight. Not for conformists. But for everyone who believes we should worship verbs instead of nouns.

Merel van ‘t Hooft. 


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