A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac and Matt Ray

Produced by Pomegranate Arts and Nature’s Darlings, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music premiered the first of eight three-hour-long “Acts” in mid-September 2016 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, followed by a 24-hour marathon performance in October.

Taylor Mac is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer.  “A critical darling of the New York scene” (New York Magazine), TimeOut NY has called Mac “one of the most exciting theater artists of our time.” The New Yorker says, “One of contemporary theater’s more unforgettable performances.”  The Village Voice named Mac the Best Theater Actor in New York (2013) and Best Male Vocalist (2015). The New York Times says of Mac in general, “Fabulousness can come in many forms, and Taylor Mac seems intent on assuming every one of them.”

Mac’s work has been performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center, The Public Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, Los Angeles’s Royce Hall, Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, Stockholm’s Sodra Theatern, the Spoleto Festival, San Francisco’s Curran Theater and MOMA, and literally hundreds of other theaters, museums, music halls, opera houses, cabarets and festivals around the globe.

Mac is the author of seventeen full-length plays and performance pieces including “Hir” (placed on the top ten theater of 2015 lists of The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Time Out NY; published by Northwestern University Press and in American Theater Magazine); “The Lily’s Revenge” (winner of the Obie Award); “The Walk Across America for Mother Earth” (named “One of the Best Plays of 2011” by The New York Times); “The Young Ladies Of” (recipient of Chicago’s Jeff Award nomination for best solo); “Red Tide Blooming” (winner of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award); “The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac” (winner of the Edinburgh Festival’s Herald Angel Award); and in collaboration with Mandy Patinkin, Susan Stroman and Paul Ford, Mac created “The Last Two People On Earth:  An Apocalyptic Vaudeville,” which Mac is performing and touring with Mr. Patinkin.

Matt Ray is a multi-genre musician based in Brooklyn. He can be seen in some of the world’s best venues where he performs nightly, either fronting his own band, or accompanying some of music’s most dynamic performers. He is widely known for his arranging, music directing, songwriting, and studio artistry. Recent work includes performing and touring Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, performing at Carnegie Hall with Kat Edmonson, music directing The Billie Holiday Project at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, penning a string and piano arrangement for the fifth season finale of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, performing at the Disney REDCAT with Joey Arias, performing in Paris with Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, and playing Town Hall with Bridget Everett and the Tender Moments. Other recent work includes performing at the Hollywood Bowl with reggae legend Burning Spear and a month of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe with Lady Rizo. In addition, Matt music directed and played piano in Taylor Mac’s Obie Award-winning play, The Lily’s Revenge, at the HERE Arts Center in New York. Matt has released two jazz albums as a leader: We Got It! (2001) and Lost In New York (2006) and one album of original pop/folk material called Songs for the Anonymous (2013).

“A vast, immersive, subversive, audacious and outrageous theater experience, Mac’s and Ray’s piece employs a variety of performance techniques to illuminate and explore our country’s history as seen through the lens of its popular music. This piece shows, in Mac’s words, how ‘in America, the oppressor is forgiven but the outsider is vilified.’”


Carol Becker, Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts

Amy Herzog, playwright

Quiara Alegría Hudes, playwright, and librettist

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University

Robert O’Hara, playwright, and director

Kate Moira Ryan, playwright

James Shapiro, Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Imani Uzuri, composer

Tracey Scott Wilson, playwright