Taylor Mac On Making A Better World In 24 Hours

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Taylor Mac, performing at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn in October. "It felt a little bit like a ritual sacrifice," Mac says. "I came home and I fell asleep at the dinner table."

NPR first spoke with performance artist Taylor Mac this September, during rehearsals for a marathon physical and artistic feat: a 24-hour-long show covering the history of American popular music from 1776 to the present. Mac performed the full show, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, on Oct. 8, and it was a huge success. All 700 tickets sold out — and most people stayed awake the whole time. New York Times critic Wesley Morris called it "one of the great experiences of [his] life."

So what was it like being onstage for an entire day? "It felt a little bit like a ritual sacrifice," Mac says. "I came home and I fell asleep at the dinner table."

The show was a full, inclusive version of U.S. history that took care to lift up the narratives of often-marginalized people — and it was also a way of creating the kind of world Mac would like to see. "We didn't really say, 'This is the world that we want' on stage," Mac says, "but we were making it — with the ... audience and the music and everybody participating."

Mac wants to continue making this kind of art: art that imagines new ways forward instead of just identifying the problems in society. "I think that's what the future holds for me," Mac says. "Making more work that is about making the world that I want as opposed to commenting on the world that is."

Mac shared these and other updates with NPR's Ari Shapiro; hear their full conversation at the audio link.

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