Julie Taymor, 1952

  • Julie-Taymor-WWP

Woman Category: Theater & CinemaWoman Tags: Author, Designer, Director, NYC Women, and Playwright

  • HerStory

    A film, theater, and opera director, playwright, and costume designer. Best known for her Broadway production of “The Lion King.”

    Julie Taymor was born in Newton, Massachusetts. Her interest in theatre began at a young age, producing family and friends’ performances in the backyard. At the age of 10, she joined the Boston Children’s Theatre, and by the age of 13, she joined Julie Portman Theatre Workshop, in which she discovered the art of “Living Theatre.” She graduated high school at 16 and went to Paris to attend the L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. There she learned mime and developed physical sensibilities, which later she used many times in her productions. At the age of 18, Taymor returned to the US and studied folklore and mythology studies at Oberlin College, graduating with Phi Beta Kappa honors. At 22, with the Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellowship, she traveled to Japan and Indonesia, studying the local theater and art forms. She stayed in Indonesia for four years, founding the Teatr Loh – a mask and dance company with actors, dancers, musicians, and puppeteers from all around the world.
    In 1980, Taymor came back to the US, settling in NYC. Around that time, she met the composer Elliot Goldenthal, who became her life partner and artistic collaborator. Her career took off in New York, designing masks, costumes, and puppets for various productions, including The Haggadah, Black Elk Lives, and Savages. At the same time, she promoted several projects of her own, adapting materials into the theater and directing numerous plays, including The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, and Titus Andronicus. In 1997, Taymor’s Broadway production of The Lion King had premiered. Not only she directed the musical but also designed the costumes, masks, and puppets. The musical became the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time, performing in more than 12 countries and seen by over 45 million people worldwide. Taymor became the first woman to receive the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.
    In 1992, at the age of 40, she directed her first opera – Oedipus rex by Stravinsky. She loved it and continued to direct one production after another, including The Flying Dutchman by Wagner, Salome by Richard Strauss, and The Magic Flute by Mozart. In the same year, she also directed her first film – Fool’s Fire. Over the years, she adapted many of her opera and theater productions into movies, such as Oedipus rex, Titus, and The Tempest. In 2002, she directed her acclaimed film Frida, depicting the life story of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Her next movie was Jukebox musical Across the Universe – a love story during the Vietnam War set to the soundtrack of The Beatles. In 2020, she released the film The Glorias, following the life of the feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

    “It’s people who are repressed and cannot express their fears that are dangerous”

    “It’s people who are repressed and cannot express their fears that are dangerous”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • At the age of 15, she traveled to Sri Lanka and India with the Experiment in International Living.
    • A retrospective of 25 years of her work was opened in 1999 and toured throughout the US.
    • She refers to Akira Kurosawa as an influence and inspiration.
    • She was ousted as director of the Broadway musical, “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.”
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (1998)
    * Tony Award for Best Costume Design (1998)
    * London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Designer (1999)
    * Olivier Awards for Best Costume Designer (2000)
    * Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Director of a Play (2014)
    * Inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater (2015)
    * Shakespeare Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre (2015)
    * Disney Legends Award honoree (2017)

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Booking.com

  • Julie Taymor: Spider-Man, The Lion King and life on the creative edge

    Showing spectacular clips from productions such as Frida, The Tempest and The Lion King, director Julie Taymor describes a life spent immersed in theater and the movies. Filmed right as controversy over her Broadway production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was at its peak, she candidly describes the tensions inherent within her creative process, as she strives both to capture the essence of a story--and produce images and experiences unlike anything else.

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  • Taymor in 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo credit - jbach @ Wikipedia

  • Citations and Additional References:
    IMDB page.
    Jewish Women's Archive website.