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June 19, 2011


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Andrew Utter

How the mighty are made low.


Whoa. Um. Whoa. If any of this is accurate (folks who were at TCG, chime in), it's just wack. No, Julie, bloggers didn't destroy your show. You made a bad show. Period.

Jack Worthing

Dear God, I hope Riedel has seen this.


If the advance buzz had been good she'd be singing the praises of new media to the high heavens.

Rob Weinert-Kendt

Isaac, I hate "Spider-man" as much or more than you do, but as one who was in the room at Taymor's presentation, I can say that the news reports (particularly Pat Healy's in the other Times) misrepresent the totality and the tone of her visit last week with her theater peers at the TCG conference. (She also spoke on a panel about directors' careers with other directors, which I didn't attend.) I confess I had to leave the room for a moment when she spoke about how some of her work on "Spider-man" was inspired by 9/11 (oy!), but when I ventured back in, I found her in a lively discussion of "Juan Darien" and "The Green Bird" etc. Indeed, once she was done talking in a slightly defensive and/or self-justifying tone about her most recent show (encouraged in part by her over-fawning interlocutor), she spent the remaining 90 minutes delving into her previous work and her aesthetic; she showed clips contrasting her stage and film versions of "Titus" and "Tempest," and some from her "Oedipus Rex," which anticipated her "Lion King" designs. She came off as a theater artist talking to other theater artists about an interesting body of work, in which "Spidey" is but one piece. Taymor may understandably have trouble getting backing for whatever she does next; she may have yet to do the soul-searching this recent fiasco should inspire; but what we saw at TCG was not an out-of-touch artiste lashing out at her critics, real and imaginary, but a major American artist with an impressive ouevre who may justly be scorned for the excesses of "Spider-man" but clearly should'nt be counted out.

Jason Loewith

Absolutely in agreement with Rob here - I was in the room and the reports (and blogs and tweets and FB updates about it) as usual miss the nuance and go for the jugular (as, frankly, does your post above), and thereby misrepresent the truth. She spoke eloquently and convincingly about what she tried to achieve artistically, but was instead asked (repeatedly) by Copeland what the scrutiny was like and how it affected her work. I was there to hear about the work, and not about the media's response to it.

But - to paraphrase something she said about her work over her whole career - the medium became the message. As I sat in the audience, I was stunned by the number of phones, ipads and laptops open, shooting off their moment-by-moment tweets and texts. And it struck me that those people weren't listening to the conversation, but were rather looking to pounce on something Taymor said in order to aggrandize themselves in their community of followers: "Look, I was here at this cool event and am so cool I can critique the speaker with my 140 witty characters! I am cooler than Julie Taymor!"

Well, no, they're not, no matter her hubris and failure with SPIDERMAN. They were mentally half-way out of the room, trying to compose what to say rather than hear what was being said. A loss for them.


Clearly, the article misrepresented the context, but in answer to Rob and Jason above, I will simply say this:
(1) It is perfectly possible to tweet and listen at the same time. I've been paid to do it on multiple occasions and never heard any complaints. You have to be a good listener, but the act of using a computer or PDA does not necessarily indicate the person isn't listening.

(2) I think both Rob and Jason have a far higher estimation of Taymor's gifts as a director than I do. As I said in my review of Spider-Man, I think she's quite good at arranging spectacle, but has little interest in or ability at actual story telling or interpreting text. And I think that's plainly evident in her work prior to Spider-Man, in particular with any moment of spoken dialogue (or the song "i Just Can't Wait To Be King") in The Lion King and all of her film work.

Rob Weinert-Kendt

Isaac, I have almost no opinion one way or the other of Taymor as a director. I've only ever seen "Lion King," "Spider-Man," and "Titus," and I had mixed feelings about all of them except "Spidey," which was an unmitigated disaster. (After seeing the clips, though, I'm planning to check out her "Oedipus" and "Frida" on Netflix.) So, given that I went into the room skeptical-to-neutral of her, I'm just trying to correct the impression of what's been reported and tell you that she gave an interesting talk once the "Spidey" crap was dispensed with, and she felt totally at home among her peers.

Belstaff Jacket

So fun article is! I know more from it.

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