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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Julie Taymor, Michael Sexton and Michael Witmore

I had the pleasure of seeing Julie Taymor's visit on Monday night to the Pearl Theater, in New York City.

She was joined by the Michael Sexton, the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Society, and Michael Witmore, the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.



It was less of an interview really, and more of a conversation between three very knowledgeable people who all have a wonderful passion for Shakespeare.

The topic of the night was imagery in Shakespeare. It was fascinating to hear all three of them discuss the metaphors and visual word-pictures that Shakespeare wrote, since all of them are not just looking at Shakespeare from a scholarly point of view, but rather from the position of how to stage and perform this language.

As you may know, the Shakespeare Society collaborates with theatres frequently. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Romeo and Juliet performed by children.

The Folger Shakespeare Library has a theatre of course, and they are staging Henry V (which I saw) right now until March 10, and they have a very busy schedule of events coming up, including Twelfth Night in May.

Of course, Julie Taymor has staged and filmed Shakespeare for much of her life -- from directing The Tempest on stage in 1986 to directing The Tempest film in 2010, and a lot in between.

She is currently working on a stage production of Midsummer for Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn.

She discussed quite a bit of it during this conversation, and she admitted how challenging it is to stage it, especially indoors as opposed to outdoors, and with a stage with three sides, so the audience is surrounding the action as opposed to just sitting opposite the performance.

To illustrate the imagery used by Shakespeare, there were two actors who joined them on stage to read aloud some passages. I was delighted that Claire Warden was one of the actors -- she was so good in A Midsummer Night's Dream which I saw at The Shakespeare Forum recently. I even saw the rehearsals which were really fun.

And wouldn't you know it, I ran into Sybille Bruun and Tyler Moss  with Alex Fletcher, Brad Lewandowski and Lauren Sowa from The Shakespeare Forum. It was great to see them again, and they are hard at work on their next Shakespeare production, and I am really looking forward to seeing it.

The conversation between Julie and both Michaels was engrossing and I enjoyed it immensely.

I was so engrossed in the talk that I didn't take notes. But if you want, you can read some of the comments by others who tweeted about it -- just follow #bardimagery.

You can also read a stream of comments here -- on Storify.

Probably the juiciest revelation from Julie Taymor was that when she was asked if we can expect a Hamlet on stage or screen from her, and she said probably not. She prefers plays like Midsummer and Titus Andronicus.

It will be fascinating to see where she goes with Shakespeare after Midsummer this year.

But in the meantime there is quite a bit coming up from both the Folger and the Shakespeare Society. If you are in or near New York and Washington D.C., I strongly recommend you visit and see some of the productions they are staging.

Cheers,

David B. Schajer

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