Taylor Mac

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2016

New York, NY

Taylor Mac (who uses “judy,” lowercase sic, not as a name but as a gender pronoun) is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director, and producer. Judy’s work is a conversation with audiences about heterogeneity, homogeneity, and cultural advocacy. Declared “one of the most exciting theater artists of our time” by TimeOut NY, judy is currently creating a four-part work called Dionysia Festival. It includes an all-ages play, The Fre; a kitchen-sink tragedy, Hir; a dance-theater play, The Bourgeois Oligarch; and a music theatre debate between small and large government, set inside an Ezra Pound poem, in the subconscious of Clarence Thomas, during a Supreme Court Hearing. Honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Herb Alpert Award, and an OBIE, and support from MAP Fund and Creative Capital, among others. Judy is working on A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a concert spanning 24 hours, each focusing on a decade of popular music. It will premiere in its entirety in 2016.

  • Taylor Mac
  • Taylor Mac- "Fear Itself" from Walk (2006): http://vimeo.com/33124380
    "Fear Itself" from Walk (2006)
  • Taylor Mac- A 24-decade History of Popular Music - 1776-1806 (2015): http://vimeo.com/161537934
    A 24-decade History of Popular Music - 1776-1806 (2015)
  • Photo Credit: Ves Pitts
    The Lily's Revenge (2009)
  • Photo Credit: Lucien Samaha
    The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac (2007)
  • A 24-Decade History of Popular Music - 1906-1916 (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Peter Smith
    A 24-Decade History of Popular Music - 1966-1976 (2016)

Artistically, what do you do and why do you do it?

My theater works to bring the conversation we aren’t having with ourselves into the room. It’s part of human nature to deny. It’s a survival technique to forget and/or put aside for a later time when you can listen to the complications, or handle trauma, or dissent. I think of theater as both that later time and as a seditious act. Sometimes the authority it inspires you to rebel against is a government, a despot, or social dictate but often it’s your sense of self; it inspires you to rebel against a simple and obstinate understanding of who you are. In that sense, I work towards being a theatrical diviner. My goal is to figure out where the profundity and full range of an idea, expression, and/or circumstance is. Then, together (the audience and creative team), we go digging.