Taylor Mac’s ‘Joy and Pandemic’ Is Postponed as Covid Cases Surge
Taylor Mac’s “Joy and Pandemic,” a play announced in March during the 1918 influenza pandemic, was a silver lining at the Magic Theater in San Francisco: a world premiere production, which will open in September for what was the first live audience from the theater in 18 months.
But now, in another turn of life where art meets life, production has been postponed indefinitely due to the push for the Delta variant in Covid cases.
“Timing is everything,” Mac said in a statement. “With the rise in infections, now is not the time to wholeheartedly engage with the themes of this work. Our hope is that the time will come soon.
Mac is best known for “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” a 24-hour marathon performance that captures all of American history through song, refracted through a radical queer lens (and involving exuberant audience participation) . “Joy and Pandemic,” which will be directed by Loretta Greco, was in part inspired by some of Mac’s research for this show, and had been commissioned by the Magic, a 144-seat non-profit theater with which Mac has a long association, before the Covid -19 pandemic.
The play (in which Mac will not appear) is set in Philadelphia in September 1918, near the end of World War I, on the day of the Liberty Loan Parade, which became an infamous event, and also continues in 1951. It takes place in a children’s art school and deals in part with Christian Science, in which Mac was raised.
“It’s so much about what our beliefs are, what someone else’s reality is, and how those two things fit together,” Mac said in an interview in March, during the interview. announcement of the premiere.
The postponement came as some live theaters began to return to San Francisco. On Tuesday, “Hamilton” reopened at the Orpheum Theater, where an audience of about 2,000 people were scheduled to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.
Sean San José, the Magic’s recently appointed artistic director, has promised the new show will eventually continue.
“This is, as Taylor Mac reminded me, a time for ‘radical empathy’,” San José said in a statement. “This piece WILL premiere at Magic, but with the uncertainty surrounding the varieties of variety, we cannot fully embrace the resonance of the work. We need proper reflection time for this piece to be properly presented.
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