Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire

Eileen Blumenthal

Published by Harry N. Abrams, 1999
ISBN 10: 0810935171 / ISBN 13: 9780810935174
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Synopsis: Julie Taymor is the avant-garde theater magician who turned Disney's The Lion King into a Broadway smash -- and became the first woman to win a Tony Award for best director. This richly illustrated book, the first edition of which was published before Taymor's Broadway triumph, has now been expanded to include The Lion King and other recent Taymor productions, including The Flying Dutchman, The Green Bird, and her forthcoming film of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.Award-winning theater critic Eileen Blumenthal traces Taymor's background and achievements in theater, opera, and film. Taymor herself provides notes on each of her projects, along with her original drawings for costumes and characters.j

Review: Most people know the work of theater director Julie Taymor, if they know it at all, from her hit adaptation of Walt Disney's The Lion King for the Broadway stage. But this gorgeous book, a pictorial history of the artist's career, demonstrates that for the past 25 years Taymor has been creating original works of theater that combine a stunning visual sense with an extensive knowledge of the performance styles of many countries outside the West. Theater critic and scholar Eileen Blumenthal has followed the work of Taymor almost since its very beginnings, and her lengthy critical assessment of this inspired artist's work combines interviews with the director with a cogent analysis of her intellectual development and cultural sources.

From her days as a teenager studying the people and theater of Bali to her travels in Japan, Europe, and then back to New York, Taymor has reveled in the cross-fertilization of different images and ideas from a wide variety of countries. Her critically lauded piece The Transposed Heads, for example, was adapted from a Thomas Mann novella that was itself based on an ancient Indian folktale. Unlike most directors, Taymor came from the world of the designer, and it was her exquisite work creating costumes, masks, and puppets that first launched her into work in the theater. But gradually she gained the respect of actors as well, and now is regarded as a director of uncommon sensitivity, who can pull performances from a cast that match in intensity her phenomenal visual eye.

Lavishly illustrated with color and black and white photographs, this is a fitting tribute to a woman who, still in her 40s, is nothing short of a theatrical prodigy. As Taymor moves further into the world of commercial theater and film (her upcoming cinematic production of Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange and adapted from her own stage production of Titus Andronicus, opens soon), more audiences than ever will be treated to her extraordinary work. --John Longenbaugh

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Title: Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Book Description Harry N. Abrams, Inc, New York, 1999. Hardcover. UPDATED AND EXPANDED EDITION. Mild wear to extremities. Frontispiece : Julie Taymor. 312 illustrations, including 176 plates in full color. Brown lettering to spine and front of white boards. Illustration of Teatr Loh members on jacket front. 240 pp with notes, index and photograph credits. Clean, bright, tight. Taymor's theatrical apprenticeship is explored in this unique volume. VERY GOOD PLUS in Very Good Dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 73723

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