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A high-school American history class typically takes an entire year to scratch the surface of the events that built this nation, but Taylor Mac has managed to compound the timeline of the United States, from its establishment in 1776 to present day, into 24 hours of pop music. Mac brings a bite-size piece of that history project, "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1946-1976," to the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall on Saturday .

A "hybrid artist" based out of New York, the singer-performance artist-playwright aimed to create a lively installation celebrating a variety of communities and the different trials they faced throughout American history. "I wanted to make a show about how communities build themselves after being torn apart," said Mac, who prefers to go by "judy" as a gender pronoun. "Every decade focuses on a different thing happening in the United States."

The original 24-hour, 246-song show, partly developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, begins with the Revolutionary War, while the performance at Kingsbury Hall will cover three decades, from 1946-1976. In this section of the performance, Mac incorporates music from the civil-rights movement and the March on Washington and ends with the push for LGBTQ rights, including the Stonewall riots that took place in New York at the end of the '60s.

"We feature songs that were at some point on the jukebox at the bar during Stonewall — it's Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Elton John, David Bowie," judy said.

As an artist, all Mac needs to make a successful production is music with an infectious rhythm, fabulous costume changes and participation from the audience. Generally, the audience has been receptive, and most even stayed for the entire epic 24-hour performance in New York last fall. Although there's an activism component to the performance piece, and the show kicks off the U.'s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration week, Mac says the audience won't receive a lecture.

"I'm trying to remind them of things they've forgotten or buried; I'm trying to unearth stuff," judy said. "The goal is to get them to consider something from a different perspective or consider something they haven't put consideration into."

As someone who identifies within the LGBTQ community, Mac says it's not too much to ask others to join judy and the team in a space that the audience might not be familiar with after growing up in "mainstream culture." The fact that these particular decades feature songs the audience will be familiar with, judy notes, makes the perspectives and experiences more accessible to those who haven't lived through those challenges.

"The artist's job is to make people pause," Mac said. —

Taylor Mac

The entertainer will perform "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1946-1976," featuring songs from the civil-rights movement to the Stonewall riots. The show, part of the UtahPresents 2016-17 season, kicks off MLK Week at the University of Utah.

When • Saturday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m.

Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 Presidents Circle, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $20-$25, with a $5 ticket for U. students and a $10 ticket for non-U students; 801-581-7100 or

More on MLK week • For more on MLK Celebration activities at the U., including a discussion on systemic racism with writer, journalist and educator Ta-Nehisi Coates on Wednesday, Jan. 18, visit .

Conversation with artist activists

Taylor Mac joins fellow artists Bill T. Jones, the celebrated dancer, choreographer and artistic director, and Niegel Smith, the noted New York theater artistic director and performance artist, for a free conversation as part of the U.'s David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts. KUER RadioWest's Doug Fabrizio will moderate the conversation, focusing on the intersection of art and activism on issues including race, AIDS, gender identity and sexuality. "These artists exemplify the ways in which the arts manifest and reflect social change," Raymond Tymas-Jones, associate vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts, said in a statement. "We are so fortunate to go beyond the stage with them and hear what inspires and shapes their work that we so admire."

When • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 Presidents Circle, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City

Tickets • Free but tickets required;