Taylor Mac — A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act

LIFT 2018

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Fabulous and fearless, Taylor Mac reframes the social history of America through three decades of song in this no-holds-barred extravaganza of music, art, activism and hugely entertaining mass ritual.

Joined onstage by a 22-piece orchestra and host of local special guests, New York’s Mac has created a Pulitzer Prize-nominated, once-in-a-lifetime, immersive performance in a quest to chronicle how communities grow stronger as they are being torn apart.

Charting the years 1776–1806, he asks the audience to conspire with him to reimagine rebellions, revolutions, triumphs and tragedies. Bawdy pub songs, sea shanties and subversive anthems are rearranged as musical mash-ups to take on a chapter of the defining early years of America’s history. The New York Times critic has described it as 'one of the greatest experiences of my life'.

Duration: Approximately 3 hours, no interval. The audience is invited to enter and exit at liberty during the performance
Age guidance: 16+. May contain nudity.

30 Jun 2018
BSL-interpreted performance

Part of our 2018 Season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. 

Part of LIFT 2018, a London-wide festival of international performance taking place throughout June 2018.

Presented by the Barbican and LIFT 2018. Produced by Pomegranate Arts and Nature’s Darlings

This engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Art Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Howard Gilman Foundation. 

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‘Explosive, spectacular, heartbreaking‘
‘We were delirious and smitten, sundered and remade ... An unutterably brilliant masterwork‘
‘Awake and sing! The church of Taylor Mac has opened its doors. Let the rejoicing begin … Go. Now‘
‘The show tells an alternative, underdog’s history of America via an extravaganza of costumes‘

Part of The Art of Change

Our 2018 season explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.


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Watch: Taylor Mac sings Amazing Grace

Follow Taylor Mac as he sings 'Amazing Grace' through the streets of San Francisco...

Collection: Theatre & Dance

Meet the directors, makers and actors who help us produce and present our rich programme of international theatre, creating dance, theatre and music that hovers on the very edge of classification as we push the boundaries of what theatre could be.   

The Art of Change

Can the arts change the world? How does the role of artists and the arts help bring about change? How does culture borrow from society – and vice versa? We look ahead at some of the highlights from our 2018 annual theme

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Watch: Barbican on YouTube

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