Sackler Center First Award Recipient Julie Taymor Talks About Women in Theatre and Staying True to Her Vision

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16 Jun 2013

A difficulty Taymor faced recently was complications resulting from the highly publicized production of Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark, which she originally directed. Actors in the production suffered from injuries during rehearsal and the show delayed its official opening numerous times before Taymor left the production due to artistic disputes with the producers. She then sued the producers, saying they continued to make use of her creative contributions after her departure, and the producers filed counterclaims that stated she failed to live up to her obligations on the show. An agreement between the parties was reached in 2012.

"I worked on Spider Man for eight years… What's sad to me is the actual story we worked on never got to be seen, because everyone jumped the gun," Taymor told Steinem at the Sackler Center, including that the original plot of Spider Man was cyber-terrorism, which is not the storyline of the current production. "To think, if you can't put on a show in an allotted amount of time, and it's a mess, you're from a different planet…we were kind of punished at a vulnerable state."

Spider Man is not the only challenge Taymor has faced throughout her career, and she articulated some of the challenges she sees women facing in their careers.

"Are you too sexy? Are you too pretty? Are you wearing feminine clothes? Should you wear pants to an interview? We all go through all of that," she said. "That's why the most important thing as a director is: are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you staying true to your vision? Staying true to the vision is what you were hired for; that's what you got involved in, that is the main thing you have to do. People will use the feminine card all the time, but it's a really poor excuse, and frankly, don't work with people who do that."

Despite being a woman, and an artist, Taymor she said she would never identify herself as "a woman artist." And her upcoming projects, which include a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, two feature films and some TV projects, resist any single identification or classification. And that, Taymor said, is just how she likes it.

"I have always resisted being classified and put in a box, and that includes as a woman as well," Taymor said. "My work is almost uncategorizable. I move from one medium to another, so I don't like limitations. What I do in those mediums is a real blend and mixture of styles, so that says to them, ‘Look, you can find your own voice. You don't have to copy other people's. You have to find your own individual vision and what it is you'd like to do and how you'd like to put the stories together.'"

She then added, "The audience doesn't care if I'm a woman or a man. Just the producers."

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