Julie Taymor Returns to Directing with A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Theatre for a New Audience
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by BWW News Desk
Multiple Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor will direct and Elliot Goldenthal will compose original music for William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the inaugural production in Theatre for a New Audience's first home in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, 262 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Streets. Previews begin October 19, 2013 for an opening November 2.
Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz explained, "Julie and Elliot are bold, innovative, adventurous artists. We first worked together in 1984 on a 60-minute version for Theatre for a New Audience's A Midsummer Night's Dream presented at The Public Theater. Twenty-nine years later, it's thrilling they are directing and composing the first full production of A Midsummer Night's Dream we are mounting as the inaugural presentation in our first permanent home."
In 1986, Mr. Horowitz invited Taymor to stage The Tempest for Theatre for a New Audience. It was the first play by Shakespeare she directed. Mr. Goldenthal composed the original music. Following The Tempest, Ms. Taymor and Mr. Goldenthal directed and composed Theatre for a New Audience's productions of The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus and in 1996, Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird, which transferred to Broadway in 2000.
Theatre for a New Audience's first permanent home is designed by world-renowned architect Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. It includes the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats) and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats). The Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, the first stage built for Shakespeare and classic drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont, is inspired by the Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe. It is a uniquely flexible space which combines an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with modern technology. The relationship between the stage and audience can be shaped for each production into different configurations.
Since its founding in 1979, Theatre for a New Audience has played in over twenty different venues across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Located at 262 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Theatre for a New Audience is steps from the BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, Harvey Theater and Fisher Building as well as the Mark Morris Dance Center and BRIC ARTS | Media House and UrbanGlass ReNEWal Project currently under construction in the former Strand Theatre.
Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated and Tony Award-winning director whose productions range from musicals and Shakespeare plays to classical operas and films. Ms. Taymor has been hailed as one of the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the arts today.
In 1998, Ms. Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and also won a Tony for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. Now in its 15th year, The Lion King is the highest-grossing show and fifth longest-running musical in Broadway history. Translated into seven different languages the show has been performed in 15 different countries on five continents.
For her latest Broadway production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Ms. Taymor served as director, co-book writer and mask-designer for the rock musical, which has consistently been one of Broadway's top-grossing shows since beginning performances in 2010.
Ms. Taymor's stage productions of Shakespeare's plays for Theatre for a New Audience include The Tempest (1986 Off-Broadway and 1987 at American Shakespeare Theatre; 1994: excerpts broadcast on PBS' Behind the Scenes); The Taming of the Shrew, (1988 Off-Broadway and North Shore Music Theatre) and Titus Andronicus (1994, Off Broadway). In 2000, Ms. Taymor directEd Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird on Broadway which was first produced in 1996 by Theatre for a New Audience at The New Victory Theater and subsequently toured to the La Jolla Playhouse. Her additional theatre work includes her Broadway debut in 1996 with Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, nominated for five Tony Awards, as well as The Transposed Heads, based on the novella by Thomas Mann, co-produced by the American Musical Theater Festival and Lincoln Center; and Liberty's Taken, an original musical co-created with David Suehsdorf and Elliot Goldenthal.
Ms. Taymor's feature film directorial debut, Titus, starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming. In 2002, her biographical film Frida, starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina, earned six Academy Award nominations, winning two. The music of the Beatles and the turbulent 1960s served as the backdrop for her next film, Across the Universe, which earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Ms. Taymor's most recent film, The Tempest, adapted the William Shakespeare play and featured an all-star cast including Helen Mirren, Ben Whishaw, Djimon Hounsou and Alfred Molina.
Beyond the theatre and screen, Ms. Taymor has directed five operas internationally including Oedipus Rex with Jessye Norman, for which she earned the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production. A subsequent film version premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won her an Emmy award. Ms. Taymor also directed Salome´, The Flying Dutchman, Die Zauberflöte (which has been in repertory at The Met for six years), The Magic Flute (the abridgEd English version of Die Zauberflöte, which inaugurated a new PBS series entitled "Great Performances at The Met") and Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel.
Ms. Taymor is a 1991 recipient of the MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship.
Composer Elliot Goldenthal creates works for orchestra, theater, opera, ballet and film. He composed original music for all Theatre for a New Audience's stage productions directed by Ms. Taymor: Shakespeare's The Tempest; The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus and Gozzi's The Green Bird. Most recently, he scored Ms. Taymor's film version of The Tempest and, in 1999, her film, Titus. In 2003, he was honored with the Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the score to Taymor's film Frida. In 2006, Mr. Goldenthal's original two-act opera Grendel, directed by Ms. Taymor, premiered at the Los Angeles Opera. Mr. Goldenthal was named one of the two finalists for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his work on Grendel. He was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to compose a three-act ballet of Othello, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in May 1997. Additionally, Mr. Goldenthal has been nominated for three Oscars, two Golden GlobeAwards, three Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards.
This season, Theatre for a New Audience is presenting Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, starring Maggie Siff and Jonathan Cake and directed by Arin Arbus, February 2 through April 6 at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street; Kafka's Monkey, the New York Premiere of London's Young Vic production based on A Report to an Academy by Franz Kafka, adapted by Colin Teevan, directed by Walter Meierjohann and starring Kathryn Hunter, April 3 through 17 at Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street; a return engagement of Fragments with texts by Samuel Beckett, directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, April 21 through May 5, at Baryshnikov Arts Center, and The Wallace Shawn-André Gregory Project at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, which consists of two plays, The Designated Mourner by Wallace Shawn, directed by André Gregory, June 21 through August 25, and the American Premiere of Grasses of a Thousand Colors, by Wallace Shawn, Directed by André Gregory, October 8 through November 10.
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience's mission is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama and produces Shakespeare alongside other classic and significant contemporary plays by authors such as Harley Granville Barker, Edward Bond, Adrienne Kennedy and Wallace Shawn. It has played Off and on Broadway and toured nationally and internationally.
In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered at the RSC; in 2007, Theatre for a New Audience was invited to return to the RSC with The Merchant of Venice starring F. Murray Abraham. In 2011, Mr. Abraham reprised his role as Shylock for a national tour.
The Theatre's productions have been honored with Tony, OBIE, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Lortel and Audelco awards and nominations and reach an audience diverse in age, economics and cultural background.
The Theatre created and runs the largest program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce students to Shakespeare, and has served more than 128,000 students since the program began in 1984. The Theatre's economically accessible ticket program includes the lowest reserved ticket price for youth in the city, $20 for any show, any time for those 30 years old and under and full time students of any age.