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Coming To Memorial Hall: The 1910s In Song

Taylor Mac

The world renowned performance artist Taylor Mac is in North Carolina this week with the show1910s - A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.  The performance is part of a larger project that involves 24 separate performances, each based on a single decade since 1770.

Mac says the 1910s were a critical decade of change in the history of America.

"Everyone was so enamored by the romantic notion of going to war and [then] the war was the most horrible war that had happened up to that point because of the machine guns and so many men were just slaughtered," he says.

The costumes that Mac wears during each performance are purposefully dramatic. There is a different costume for each decade.  

“I want it to look like the full range of the themes.  I want it to be messy and beautiful and chaotic and ugly, and violent and graceful, and all of that squished together. Gorgeous, gorgeous outfits that nobody would get caught dead in except for a performer."

The goal for me is to do the thing, deconstruct the thing, and then dream the thing forward. - Taylor Mac

The 1820s show recalls the invention of braille, and so the audience is blindfolded. The show from the 1900s features songs that were popular in the Jewish tenements.  The 1910s production is primarily focused on war. The project is incredibly ambitious.

“The goal for me is to do the thing, deconstruct the thing, and then dream the thing forward.  And what I mean by that is, you honor the thing by just doing it."

Mac is gearing up for a single mega performance that will take place in 2016. All of the separate shows will be put together and performed over 24 hours.

“The whole concept is that, as it gets harder for me to perform (because I am staying up longer and singing longer) my voice is falling apart ... so the audience is then relied on more to make it happen. It’s a big giant extravaganza [with] hundreds of people involved.”

1910s- A 24 Decade History of Popular Music runs October 3rd and 4th at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill.

Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
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