Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Present Powerhouse Theater

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Work-In-Progress)

July 22 - July 23, July 30, 2016

In the Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film

Conceived, written, performed and co-directed by Taylor Mac

Along with Music Director Matt Ray, Co-director Niegel Smith, and Costume Designer Machine Dazzle, internationally award-winning artist Taylor Mac brings to Powerhouse this wildly ambitious, multi-year project, which charts the history of popular music in America from the nation’s founding to the present day.  Part concert, part ritual, all fabulous, this audacious, subjective history of the past 240 years is told through the music of the times, one decade per hour.

Experience the project’s first 12-hour/12-decade performance cycle: from noon to midnight on July 30, Taylor whirls us from 1836 to 1956, enjoying stops along the way for songs popular during the Underground Railroad, the Oklahoma land rush, World War I, the Harlem Renaissance, and more.

Frequently asked questions:

Q. What’s being presented?

A. This is a work-in-progress showing of a concert of 12 decades of popular song from 1836-1956.   It forms half of what will ultimately be a 24-decade cycle of American popular music (and history) from 1776 to the present.

Taylor and the team have been developing this project for several years; some decades we present will feel very finished and will include full technical elements, and some will be more sparsely rehearsed.  All are works-in-progress.


Q. Is it really 12 hours?

A. Taylor will be performing 12 consecutive decades, and we expect it to take 12 hours, from noon to midnight.  But this is the first and only time Taylor will be performing a section this long until the full 24-Decade presentation this fall in NYC, so we will learn together!


Q.  Can I arrive anytime throughout the day?

A.  You should plan to arrive for the beginning of the performance at 12pm.


Q. Will there be intermissions?  

There aren’t traditional “intermissions” – where the performers leave the stage and the audience leaves the theater all at once.  Each decade will take about an hour, and Taylor and the company will perform straight through, with an occasional pause to reset the stage and change costumes between decades.


Q. But I can leave the theater, right?

A. Yes!  As Taylor will remind us, you should do what you need to be comfortable.  Use the restroom at your convenience, get up and stretch your legs, etc.  Please be considerate of your fellow theatergoers as you come and go, and Taylor’s hope is that you’ll stay until the end of a decade before you leave, if possible.  (Each decade is about an hour.)


Q.  What about food?  Can I eat during the performance?

A.  A small menu of boxed meals will be available to purchase in advance, from our friends at Le’ Express / Farmers and Chefs.  Please CLICK HERE to purchase.  

Certain decades are designed to accommodate the audience eating meals. In our marathon, those meal times will be around 3pm and 4pm, and again at around 9pm. During these hours, you’re welcome to eat your boxed meal inside the theater.

Please note that these boxed meals are the only food that may be consumed inside the theater.  There will be other light snacks available at foodtrucks outside the theater throughout the day, and you’re welcome to bring your own food – we just ask that you step out briefly to eat these at your convenience.  Beverages in lidded containers will be allowed in the theater.

(***A limited number of meals will be available for purchase at the theater – but please order ahead by noon on Friday, July 29 to ensure adequate quantities.)


Q. What else may I bring?

A.  We strongly suggest you bring as few personal items as possible.  If you need to bring a bag, please try to make it small and portable.   

Some audience members will be asked to move around the theater; they will generally come back to their own seats, but may be relocated for 30-45 minutes at a time.  Ushers and other personnel will be on hand to help you with this movement but we cannot be responsible for your personal items.  There will not be a coat or bag check available.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Box Office with additional questions at or 845-437-5599.