A 24-Decade History of Popular Music - Taylor Mac


"One of the greatest experiences of my life." ~The New York Times

From murder ballads to speakeasy jazz, Women’s Liberation anthems to Walt Whitman, this is a show 240 years in the making and 24 hours in the telling.

Taylor Mac’s mission is nothing short of extraordinary: to chart a complete social history of a nation through the music that scored its rebellions and revolutions, triumphs and tragedies.

Across four six-hour epics of staggering scale, Mac enlists the aid of over one hundred local and international performers—from acrobats and burlesque artists to choirs and marching bands—to join this fearless quest.

Hailed as a Ring Cycle for the 21st century, this once-in-a-lifetime experience has never been seen outside the US and is co-commissioned by and exclusive to Melbourne Festival. Part celebration and part exorcism, it’s a no-holds-barred extravaganza of music, history, performance and art that will take its place as one of the most spectacular stage events Melbourne has ever witnessed.

Chapter I: 1776-1836
Wed 11 October

The American Revolution from the perspective of the Yankee Doodle Dandy, the early Woman’s Lib movement, an epic battle between drinking songs, early Temperance songs, a dream sequence where you are blindfolded and the heteronormative narrative as colonization.

Chapter II: 1836-1896
Fri 13 October

Walt Whitman and Stephen Foster go head-to-head for the title of Father of the American Song, culminating in the queerest Civil War reenactment in history. Plus a production of The Mikado set on Mars.

Chapter III: 1896-1956
Wed 18 October

A Jewish tenement, a WWI trench, a speakeasy, a depression and a zoot suit riot all make the white people flee the cities.

Chapter IV: 1956-present
Fri 20 October

Bayard Rustin’s March on Washington leads to a queer riot, sexual deviance as revolution, radical lesbians and a community building itself while under siege.


Taylor Mac is the darling of New York's cabaret scene, hailed as a its bedazzled shaman, radical angel and searing social critic. Mac’s stellar ascent has been accompanied by a constant stream of accolades, including Guggenheim and Doris Duke awards, Obie and New York Drama Critics Circle special citations and most recently the Kennedy Prize for Drama, whose previous winners include Hamilton. 

"★★★★★ This 24-hour-long pop show is everything." ~ The Guardian

"This downtown performer is hell bent on making us look at the hidden history of our favorite songs. In platform heels. For 24 hours." ~ The New York Times