leave it to Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac enters her world of glitter, color and extravaganza for a few hours.Statue Little Fang

He looks so ordinary, via Zoom, somewhere in the mountains of Massachusetts, in pants. What a contrast to his stage presence: always full of glitter, full of color and on high heels, in fantastic costumes.

Taylor Mac likes big and compelling, exciting and challenging his audience. And he likes to settle cash registers. Ten years ago he was making The history of popular music for 24 years, a 24-hour show with 246 songs that tells American history from the perspective of minority groups. The show was supposed to be a one-off performance with music, drag, balloons and guest musicians, but Mac played more often. Eventually he cut the performance into shows of six hours or less, such as in Amsterdam next week. Mac keeps the performance fresh and poured a ritual sauce over it. He then talks about the so-called radical fairy realness ritual sacrifice. “We spend part of the show ritually sacrificing things that are of no use to us. Think of the patriarchy. I open the newspaper and see what is happening right now. We sacrifice those things.”

What current events do you bring to the show?

“At least not one subject. The war, abortion rights, the environment: all connected to the idea of ​​’father knows better.’ It doesn’t make us all better, so we’ll all meditate on it. By that I mean: acting exuberant and fun.”

Award-winning artist, composer, actor and Pulitzer-nominated playwright Taylor Mac creates an alternative world in a few hours of theater. This world, dominated by conservative forces, is being taken over by marginalized groups, queers and outsiders. No patriarchy or heteronormative society, but a world of glitter, color and extravaganza.

“I am sometimes framed as strange or deviant, but I see myself as a classicist because I am based on the Greek theater tradition. The Greeks also performed in high heels and in cross-dressing.”

Mac was inspired by radical fairy movement, a group that believes in an alternative power structure where the extravagant and marginalized people rule. “I once visited a commune in this movement. It was so special, and also so crazy. They did ‘stupid rituals’ which proved to be very effective. They used play to get to a deeper level. For example: Draw draw a line in the sand and call it a door. Then let everyone walk through that door to reinvent themselves. It may sound silly, but it works.”

Mac emphasizes that it can be quite depressing in the US to follow the news where Trump abolishes abortion rights or school shootings. “You want to do something, but what? Above all, I want to be uplifting so we can take action. Although I’m certainly not a teacher.”

What do you want to tell the public?

“The aim is not to teach, but to remind the public of something they may have lost or saved. For example: that you think you don’t experience internalized homophobia, but you can feel a touch of homophobia during the show. It makes you aware.”

“It’s all in a cheerful setting. We shame not, but invites you to examine where you stand. Our attitude is: of course work has to be done, but together we can manage it. We ask the audience to participate, but not in the way that participation is sometimes used in the theater. Like: you have to participate and you have to have fun. I hate it. With us, it is sometimes an emotional issue, on a completely different level.”

What did you base this show on?

“It once started with Aids Walksay the eighties. When I was a child, I suddenly saw thousands of gay men openly protesting in San Francisco. The poignant thing was that the queer people died pushing their loved ones in wheelchairs. The community came together and made themselves stronger, but in a situation where they died. This contradiction is the basis of this performance: how do we build ourselves up, make ourselves stronger, especially in a time when polarization is greater than ever? They are only questions, I have no answers.”

Is the show different for each audience?

“We have a set list and a base, but we also react to the audience. I organize and plan, but it never turns out exactly as I intended, haha. This keeps it current and urgent. And live. I don’t know yet how the show will be for the Amsterdam audience. I won’t know until I get there. Then I talk to people in town, from the taxi driver to the musicians in the show. I also always work with local artists because I have the opportunity to give unknown performers a big stage. And it’s a great way to connect me as an American and the local audience.”

Do you already know what you want to sacrifice in Amsterdam?

“The patriarchy, of course. But men are welcome! Everyone can come. I am Is responsible forbut everyone can be part of the party.”

A 24-year history of popular music – abridged (short version), 2-6/8, International Theater Amsterdam (ITA), in connection with Pride Amsterdam.

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