Melbourne Festival: The Wrap featuring Taylor Mac

Feeling tired Melbourne? We are not surprised. You have just finished a mammoth three weeks laughing, crying, exploring mirror mazes, eating and drinking, and having your cultural boundaries pushed in the most interesting ways. That’s right – Melbourne Festival has come to an end for another year.

While all the shows at the festival have been receiving praise, the one performer on everyone’s lips has to be the US artist and performer Taylor Mac. Mac (who’s chosen gender pronoun is “Judy”) has been recreating the enormous performance, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, for the first time outside of the States. While the original performance was played out for a full 24 hours, the version for Melbourne Festival was broken down into much more approachable six-hour shows. A 24-Decade History of Popular Music charts social history of the USA though the music that underlined its rebellions, revolutions, triumphs and tragedies.

We have been hearing stories of Melbourne audiences breaking into tears of laughter and sadness, spontaneous dancing with strangers, and bursting into song. By all accounts, Mac’s shows have been an incredible experience for anyone lucky enough to become involved.

For The Wrap, a closing party of sorts for the festival, Mac performed some of the highlights from the show. In Judy’s own words, “I thought what we would do tonight is just sing all of the gay songs.” During the 90-minute show, the audience was instructed to slow dance with a person of the same sex, carry a figurative dead Judy Garland out of the room, sing some gay resistance songs, bounce purple “Ask a lesbian about their lives” balloons to Purple Rain, and finally help Taylor Mac crowd surf to his artistic director to finish the show. It’s a great show of Melbourne’s support for important art that Melbourne Festival was able to get such a significant figure to perform here, and the audience soaked in every moment.

Melbourne Festival will be back again in 2018 for more ground-breaking art in its many forms. For now though, we will leave you with this video of Mac’s performance of Amazing Grace through the streets of San Francisco. See you next year Melbourne Festival!

– Tomas
Tomas Zagoda is a filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. You can follow him on your social media channel of choice @TomasZagoda.

The Melbourne festival is over for this year, however it will be back in 2018. See all the shows you missed, and keep an eye out for the 2018 lineup on their website.
The venue is accessible. 

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of TS Publicity and Melbourne Festival.
Image credit: Supplied