The 2016/2017 season of NYC's St. Ann's Warehouse just got underway last week with Taylor Mac's ambitious "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music" which runs through October 8. Here's what it's all about:

Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is a performance art concert in which Mac charts the history of popular music and activism in America, from the nation’s founding in 1776 to the present day. Since beginning the undertaking in 2012, Mac has been creating the “staggering magnum opus” (The New York Times) little by little, inviting audiences to experience the work-in-progress in acclaimed shows worldwide. Now, for the first time, Mac will premiere the complete 24-decade work, a singular spectacle featuring a 24-piece orchestra, dancing beauties and a variety of special guests.

In A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, created with music director / arranger Matt Ray, Mac performs songs spanning the history of America, devoting approximately one hour of stage time (and a signature outrageous costume by longtime collaborator Machine Dazzle) to each decade. This World Premiere engagement offers two ways to experience the work: in a series of three-hour concerts covering three decades each, or in one continuous, 24-hour marathon finale—the one time that Mac intends to perform the entire work continuously.

Tickets for the remaining performances, including the 24-hour marathon ($600) are on sale.

Also at St. Ann's Warehouse this season:

British storyteller and comedian Daniel Kitson’s new story show, Mouse: The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought runs from November 8 - 27 (tickets).

Downtown New York icon and Warhol superstar Penny Arcade’s Longing Lasts Longer, which won the "Scotsman Fringe First and Herald Angel" Awards at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will run from December 1 – 11 (tickets).

The Donmar Warehouse production of The Tempest, which is the last section of director Phyllida Lloyd’s trilogy of all-female Shakespeare productions led by Harriet Walter, runs from January 13 - February 12, 2017 (tickets).

Read more about all those productions in detailed descriptions, below.

ST. ANN’S WAREHOUSE 2016-17 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Taylor Mac
A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
World Premiere
September 15 – October 8, 2016

Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is a performance art concert in which Mac charts the history of popular music and activism in America, from the nation’s founding in 1776 to the present day. Since beginning the undertaking in 2012, Mac has been creating the “staggering magnum opus” (The New York Times) little by little, inviting audiences to experience the work-in-progress in acclaimed shows worldwide. Now, for the first time, Mac will premiere the complete 24-decade work, a singular spectacle featuring a 24-piece orchestra, dancing beauties and a variety of special guests.

In A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, created with music director / arranger Matt Ray, Mac performs songs spanning the history of America, devoting approximately one hour of stage time (and a signature outrageous costume by longtime collaborator Machine Dazzle) to each decade. This World Premiere engagement offers two ways to experience the work: in a series of three-hour concerts covering three decades each, or in one continuous, 24-hour marathon finale—the one time that Mac intends to perform the entire work continuously.

The 24-decade concerts at St. Ann’s are as follows:

September 22 at 7:30pm: Act IV (1866-1896), “Circus, Mikado, and the Oklahoma Land Rush”: a dinner theater production of The Mikado set on Mars. Plus: the queerest land grab in the history of mankind.
September 24 at 7:30pm: Act V (1896-1926), “Tenements, Trenches, and Speakeasies”: a Jewish tenement, a World War I trench reenactment, and a dance-off between 12 ukulele-playing Tiny Tims and 12 Charles Dickens Tiny Tims.

September 27 at 7:30pm: Act VI (1926-1956), “Harlem Renaissance, Prison Fantasies, and the Atomic Bomb”: Oh the Depression, ain’t it great. Also: zoot suit riots meet Japanese internment camps, and white people flee the cities.

September 30 & October 1 at 7:30pm Act VII (1956-1986), “A March, a Riot, and a Backroom Sex Party”: Bayard Rustin’s March on Washington leads to a queer riot and sexual deviance as revolution.

October 3 at 7:30pm Act VIII (1986-2016) “Direct Action, Radical Lesbians, and Originals”: A community builds itself under siege, radical lesbians avenge, and Mac performs original songs written for 2016.

October 8 at 12pm noon: Marathon, Acts I – VIII (1776-2016)
An artist of both disarming vulnerability and soaring spirit, Taylor Mac is the winner of a 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a 2016 Guggenheim Award in Drama, and a 2015 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Mac is widely celebrated as a playwright, actor, singer and director, and as a creator of performance events that at once provoke and embrace a diverse audience. Time Out NY has called Taylor Mac “one of the most exciting theater artists of our time.” Mac won an OBIE Award in 2010 for The Lily’s Revenge; critical praise for playing the title role in The Foundry’s Theatre’s production of Good Person of Szechwan at the Public Theater; and last year for the work Mac created with Mandy Patinkin, Susan Stroman and Paul Ford, The Last Two People On Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, which co-stars Mac and Patinkin. Mac’s play Hir made its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in 2015, landing on many top theater critics’ year-end best lists.

Presented by St. Ann’s Warehouse and Pomegranate Arts, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is conceived, written, performed, and co-directed by Taylor Mac. Collaborators include music director and arranger Matt Ray, co-director Niegel Smith, dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke, set designer Mimi Lien, costume designer Machine Dazzle, lighting designer John Torres, Executive Producer Linda Brumbach, and Associate Producer Alisa E. Regas. The work is co-produced by Pomegranate Arts and Mac’s production company, Nature’s Darlings.

Daniel Kitson
Mouse: The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought
American Premiere
November 8 – 27
$25

St. Ann’s Warehouse is pleased to welcome back Daniel Kitson, the incomparable British storyteller and comedian Ben Brantley of The New York Times has called a“monologist extraordinaire,” “unconditionally engaged and engaging,” and “consistently and enthrallingly surprising.

Mouse is about friendship and loneliness, doubt and hope, a mouse, a phone call and the unfathomable repercussions of everything we ever do. Kitson describes the show’s genesis this way:

A few years ago, quite suddenly, I thought of something.

Something unlikely.

An implausible story about a mouse.

Since then, whenever starting a new show, faced with the empty page and the endless possibility and the looming deadline I have tried and failed to find a way of telling that particular story. Every structural gambit or presentational conceit feeling both oddly insufficient and insufficiently odd. And so, every time, eventually, I’ve abandoned the mouse and I’ve moved on. I’ve had a different idea, for a different story and I’ve written a different show.

This time was no different, again I wanted to tell that story and again I didn’t know how.

And then, quite suddenly, I thought of something else.

Something equally unlikely.

An implausible story about a phone call.

And here we are.

A native of Denby Dale, in Yorkshire, Daniel Kitson is an award-winning writer and performer whose innovative “story shows” have become a consistent highlight of the Edinburgh Festival and, in recent years, St. Ann’s Warehouse seasons.

Penny Arcade
Longing Lasts Longer
American Premiere
December 1 – 11
Tickets start at $35

In a singular career now spanning five decades, the New York City writer, performance artist, actress and activist Penny Arcade has remained, at home and worldwide, an icon of the American avant-garde. She made her debut with John Vaccaro’s explosive Playhouse of the Ridiculous before becoming a teenage Andy Warhol Factory Superstar, featured in the Warhol/Morrissey film Women in Revolt. She went on to collaborate with such seminal countercultural instigators as Charles Ludlum, Judith Malina and Jack Smith. The late Quentin Crisp described her as his soul mate and the woman with whom he most identified. The New York Times’ T Magazine featured her in its recent photo essay “They Made New York”, alongside other artists that define New York City’s cultural landscape including Fran Lebowitz, Susan Sarandon, Philip Glass and Chuck Close. The Times has also recognized her among pioneering downtown solo performance artists such as Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray.

Arcade is at the peak of her powers in Longing Lasts Longer, a hit at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, a Herald Angel Award, and numerous five-star reviews. The show builds upon Arcade’s many writings and performances about gentrification and capitalism’s effect on the creative mind, individual freedom and the unique character of New York City, whose “queers, junkies, whores, stars, deviants and geniuses” attracted her, at 14, to climb out of her bedroom window from the small factory town of New Britain Connecticut, where, as Susana Carmen Ventura, she grew up the daughter of Italian immigrants.

Conceived, written and performed by Penny Arcade, Longing Lasts Longer employs her signature combination of stand-up comedy and memoir and a live-mixed soundtrack of popular music from the past five decades. The show critiques the current moment—the suburbanization of New York City, which has turned it from the Big Apple into the Big Cupcake, and from the city that never sleeps to the city that can’t wake up. Longing Lasts Longer does not traffic in nostalgia; rather, it is a passionate exploration of cultural amnesia and the erasure of history. Arcade sends up every decade from the 1960s through to the present day, celebrating the spirit of individuality that still draws people to New York and inspires young and old alike.

Writing about a work-in-progress performance of Longing Lasts Longer at Joe’s Pub in 2014, The New York Times described it as “a meditation on gentrification [that] mixes social criticism and pop culture, history and humor to present the artist’s distinctive picture of New York’s past, present and future, against a musical backdrop.” In a profile of Arcade on the occasion of the show’s recent Australian tour, The Australian characterized Longing Lasts Longer as “a rampage through opinions and themes garnered over four decades spent perched on society’s edge, a wake-up call to a younger generation rendered comatose by consumerism [and] capitalism.”

The creative team for Longing Lasts Longer includes Arcade’s longtime collaborator, designer and co-director Steve Zehentner and creative producer Jeremy Goldstein.

The Tempest
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Featuring Harriet Walter
American Premiere
January 13 - February 12, 2017
Tickets start at $40

St. Ann’s Warehouse forged a close and fruitful relationship with London’s Donmar Warehouse when the organizations co-presented the American Premiere of the Donmar’s Julius Caesar, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, in 2013. The production was the first in a trilogy Lloyd envisioned, of Shakespeare plays performed by an all-female cast led by Dame Harriet Walter and set against the backdrop of a women’s prison.

In The Tempest, Walter, deemed “one of the best Shakespeareans alive” by The Guardian, will play Prospero. The diverse cast will include numerous actors who performed in Julius Caesar and/or Henry IV, including Jade Anouka, Shiloh Coke, Jackie Clune, Karen Dunbar, Zainab Hasan, Sophie Stanton and Caroline Valdés. The company will also welcome Sheila Atim and Martina Laird.

As with Julius Caesar and Henry IV, the Donmar Warehouse will bring its highly successful and enlightening multi-pronged education program to New York City with The Tempest. There will be in-school workshops, an intensive half-day workshop for young women and mentors, as well as workshops organized specifically for young people in the juvenile justice system.