Performance artist and drag queen Taylor Mac, an actor, singer-songwriter, playwright, director, producer and above all, entertainer, will take the stage at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater on Feb. 5 and 6. Mac, who uses ‘judy’ as a preferred gender pronoun, is in the process of developing and writing “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music”: a show where judy will perform nonstop for 24 hours, covering 240 years of music. Mac will sing an hour of each decade’s most popular music, starting from the birth of the United States of America, all the way up to 2016. The show this upcoming weekend will consist of songs from the decades 1956-1986.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Mac chuckled when asked what judy’s favorite decade to perform was.
“They’re all like children,” judy said. “I love them all for what they are. They’re such a delight to do. Some are harder than others, but exciting to do because they are harder.”
In the performance this weekend, judy will perform these three decades for the very first time.
“That means (the show) is going to have a little chaos in it, which usually means it will be more fun. Anything could happen.”
Mac has been highly praised by The New Yorker, The New York Times and New York Magazine, and TimeOut magazine has deemed judy a future theater legend. Judy is more than just an actor or playwright (judy has also written 17 plays) — Mac is an artist and a hybrid, encapsulating the essence of what it means to be a true entertainer.
“Being a hybrid isn’t something you are taught as a child,” judy said. “It’s not like people, when you’re a kid, say: ‘You know, you could be a performance artist drag queen!’ ” Judy’s actions and ideas of non-conformity inspire the theater world, as well as inspire those who are generally figuring out who and what they want to be.
Mac’s paradigm-shattering plays, behaviors and performances connect to judy’s audiences so well because of the way in which judy approaches the crowd and communicates with them.
“One of the things I try to do is to figure out what the audience needs,” Mac said. “It’s kind of my job as a theater artist to be a student of humanity. One of the things I do is say, ‘Well, what do I need?’ and because I’m, well, a person, if I need something, I’m guessing other people in the world might need it as well.”
A big aspect of judy’s artistic philosophy is the idea that theater is about healing. Judy hopes to bring everyone together and consider things that people normally may not spend time with. Through this, judy hopes that “we can heal ourselves a little bit from the things that are destructive in our culture.” Mac is a true entertainer that wants people who come to the show to laugh and be able to experience a full range of who they are as people and as a community. Above all, judy wants people to have a “freakin’ good time.”
What’s so wonderful about judy’s art form is its spontaneity — Mac’s favorite part of judy’s work.
“That moment on stage, where you know what you’re going to do and then something different ends up happening in the room — you have to go with it. You’re doing something completely different (than what you had planned), and everyone is on board and everyone knows it’s just happening right then and there. That moment is glorious.”
Judy’s performances are continually executed with an ever-present spark. Each show is a new experience for Mac and the audience, keeping judy’s passion alive and audacious.
“We’re doing two shows in Ann Arbor,” judy said. “So if you see the first night and then come the next night, you’ll see two different shows. You’ll see the same outline, but every single night we perform is different. And that’s what so exciting.”
When asked what message Mac hoped to send to the college audience judy will be performing for next weekend, judy responded.
“Oh, I just hope we hang out together.”