By Lauren Bukoskey
This month, Taylor Mac is taking on a feat that seems unimaginable: to explain 24 decades of American history with 24 costumes.
On April 7, ASU Gammage is hosting this fabulous show. Even with all that ground to cover, costume designer Machine Dazzle doesn’t bat an eyelash.
“Perfection is for assholes,” Dazzle said.
And with that go-getter attitude, an exhausting first show went underway.
The original show was performed for a jaw-dropping 24-hours with 24 costumes and 246 songs. Every. Single. Song. Performed by Taylor Mac.
Mac and Dazzle have collaborated on past projects, too. They undeniably have natural chemistry and shared intensity — not to mention the stamina they both possess enabling Dazzle to design 24 costumes and for Mac to perform on stage for so long.
“24-Decade” was a 2017 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama and won the Kennedy Prize for Drama inspired by history.
“This show is about bringing the culture forward by acknowledging the past and moving towards a better future by taking a look (at) what our country is based on,” Dazzle said.
Taylor Mac will perform an abridged performance of this show at ASU Gammage, but don’t fret, the opulent costumes will be featured.
Dazzle explained that his extravagant costumes are much more than simple sketches turned into reality. They are “art and costumes.”
“I wouldn’t use the words clothing and fashion in a sentence because I do not make clothing or fashion,” Dazzle said, and understandably so.
Just a glimpse at a few of the costumes and it’s obvious these pieces are not to be just looked at. These are bold, loud and eccentric pieces that demand more than that. They provoke emotion in the audience.
“I don’t make the costumes with a message. The whole show is a message,” Dazzle said. “I think that people’s lives will be changed. I just like to entertain and educate if I can.”
Dazzle’s favorite costume is the “Crazy Jane” costume which Mac wears while singing songs from the temperance movement.
The hardest one to create, Dazzle said, was the underground railroad costume. Dazzle spent time contemplating the right way to construct this piece of art without diminishing that point in history. He said he wanted to honor it the best he could.
“It’s not my story. I was being careful not to appropriate anything or overly romanticize it,” Dazzle said. “I don’t want to project anything onto a situation I know nothing about.”
Dazzle said he did not design any piece of clothing; he analyzed the era in history, built a feeling around each costume and gave each costume a different look and feel to match the decade.
Although the show won’t be 24 hours, the costumes deserve 24 hours for the audience to appropriately appreciate them for exactly what they are: unusual and unique. This is exactly what Dazzle was going for, but he didn’t have to reach far for it.
“The inspiration is there in the music and time period,” Dazzle said.
For more information and to get tickets, head here.
Photos courtesy of Teddy Wolff.