Julie Taymor's Headshot

Julie Taymor

- Panelist Blurb

With productions ranging from original musicals to Shakespeare plays to films and operas, Julie Taymor is one of the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the performing arts today. Most recently, Taymor received a Tony Award for her direction of The Lion King, becoming the first woman to receive this highest award for the direction of a musical. Taymor also designed the costumes, which earned her another Tony, co-designed the masks and puppets, and wrote additional music and lyrics for The Lion King. In 1996 she directed Juan Darien at the Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, which received five Tony nominations, including best director. Also in 1996, she directed and co-designed Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird at the New Victory Theater in NYC and at the La Jolla Playhouse. In September 1995, Taymor directed Wagner's Salome for the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia and in Germany under the baton of Valery Gergiev. In 1993 she directed Mozart's The Magic Flute for the Maggio Musicale in Florence with Zubin Mehta conducting.

Taymor's first opera direction was of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex for the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan with Seiji Ozawa conducting. The live production premiered in Japan in 1992, while the film premiered at The American Film Festival in Park City (1993) and won the Jury Award at the Montreal Festival of Films on Art. The film was broadcast internationally in 1993, receiving an Emmy award and later the 1994 International Classical Music Award for best opera production.

Taymor's production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus was produced off-Broadway in the spring of 1994. She directed, designed and co-wrote with Elliot Goldenthal, Juan Darien: a Carnival Mass for Music Theater Group in 1988. The recipient of two OBIES as well as numerous other awards, this original visual music-theater work was performed in New York at The Edinburgh International Festival and festivals in France, Jerusalem and Montreal, as well as an extended run in San Francisco. Other directing credits include The Tempest (at the Stratford American Shakespeare Festival), The Taming of the Shrew, The Transposed Heads (based on the novella by Thomas Mann, co-produced by A.M.T.T. and Lincoln Center), and Liberty's Taken (an original musical co-created with David Sueshorf and Elliot Goldenthal).

While on a Watson Fellowship in Indonesia, 1975-79, Taymor developed a mask/dance company, Teatr Loh, an international company of Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, French, German and American Actors, musicians, dancers and puppeteers. They toured throughout Indonesia with two original productions, Way of Snow and Tirai (subsequently performed in the USA).

Fool's Fire, Taymor's first film, which she both adapted and directed, is based on Edgar Allan Poe's Hopfrog. Produced by American Playhouse, it premiered at the American Film Festival in Park City and aired on PBS in March 1992. The film won the "Best Drama" award at the Tokyo International Electronic Cinema Festival.

In 1991 Ms. Taymor received a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship. She has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE awards, the first annual Dorothy B. Chandler award in Theater, and the 1990 Brandeis Creative Arts Award. A book on her work, Playing With Fire, was published in 1995 by Abrams. Her book, The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway, was recently published by Hyperion.

Taymor directed a major motion picture adaptation of Titus Andronicus, which was shot in Rome with Anthony Hopkins in the title role. She also collaborated with composer Elliot Goldenthal on the opera, Grendel, which premiered in 2000.

Her most recent work is the critically-acclaimed Frida, a biopic starring Salma Hayek. The film garnered many national and international awards including a Golden Globe and two Academy Awards.

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from November 7, 2003.