A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Directed by Julie Taymor, Opens Tonight at Polonsky Shakespeare Center
Theatre for a New Audience's inaugural production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by multiple Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor with original music composed by Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning Elliot Goldenthal, opens tonight, November 2, at the Theatre's newly-named building, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Brooklyn.
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare features a cast of 36 led by Tina Benko as Titania, Max Casella as Bottom, David Harewood as Oberon and Kathryn Hunter as Puck. Previews began October 19; show opens tonight, November 2.
Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz explained, "Julie and Elliot are innovative, adventurous artists. We first worked together in 1984 on a 60-minute version of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Theatre for a New Audience presented at The Public Theater. Twenty-nine years later, it's thrilling they are directing and composing our first full production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the inaugural presentation in our first permanent home."
Theatre for a New Audience just named its building Polonsky Shakespeare Center in recognition of a $10 million gift from the Polonsky Foundation.
Julie Taymor is internationally recognized for her bold and original creations. For this inaugural production, she stages Shakespeare's joyous comedy about love and its complications in the mortal and spirit worlds incorporating a fantasia of light and shadow.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is the fifth production Ms. Taymor has directed for Theatre for a New Audience. Previously with the company, she staged Shakespeare's The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, and
Titus Andronicus, and Carol Gozzi's The Green Bird.
A Midsummer Night's Dream will feature original music by Elliot Goldenthal, who creates works for orchestra, theatre, opera, ballet and film. Mr. Goldenthal was named one of the two finalists for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his original two-act opera Grendel, which was directed by Ms. Taymor.
After 34 years of being itinerant, Theatre for a New Audience's Polonsky Shakespeare Center is also its first permanent home. Built by The City of New York in partnership with Theatre for a New Audience, located in the Downtown Brooklyn cultural district; and designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture with theatre consultants Theatre Projects, Jean-Guy Lecat and Akustiks, it includes the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats) -- the first stage built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since the Vivian Beaumont in 1965 -- and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats).
Sets for A Midsummer Night's Dream are by Es Devlin, costumes are by Constance Hoffman, lights by Don Holder and sound by Matt Tierney. Brian Brooks is choreographing the dances and Sven Ortel is designing the projections. Jonathan Mastro is the music director.
In addition to Tina Benko as Titania, Max Casella as Bottom, David Harewood as Oberon and Kathryn Hunter as Puck, the cast of 36 includes Zach Appelman, Brendan Averett, Roger Clark, Lilly Englert, Joe Grifasi, Jake Horowitz, Zachary Infante, Robert Langdon Lloyd, Mandi Masden, Jacob Ming-Trent, Okwui Okpokwasili, and William Youmans.
The fairies are interpreted as elemental forces of nature -- Rude Elementals: Olivia Bak, Marcus Bellamy, Ciaran Bowling, Jarrett Austin Brown, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Christina Dimanche, Jake L. Faragalli, Jaryd Farcon, Reimi Kaneko, Sophie Lillis, Johnny Marx, Isaiah Register, Briana Robinson, Willa Scolari, Sophie Shapiro, Alex Shimizu, Emmet Smith, Madison Smith, Azalea Twining, and Cassidy vanVonno.
A Midsummer Night's Dream runs through January 12 and performs Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30pm with regular matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm. Additional matinee performances are Tuesday, December 24 at 2:00pm; Wednesdays November 27 and January 1 at 2:00pm. Additional Evening Performances are Monday, December 23 at 7:30pm. There are no 7:30pm evening performances Sundays October 20 and 27, December 8, 15 and 22 and January 5. There are also no performances Thursday, November 28; Tuesdays, December 17 and 24; and Wednesdays, December 18 and 25. Single tickets start at $75. Tickets may be purchased online at www.tfana.org or by phone at 866-811-4111.
Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated and Tony Award-winning director whose productions range from musicals and Shakespeare plays to classical operas and films. Ms. Taymor has been hailed as one of the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the arts today.
Ms. Taymor's stage productions of Shakespeare's plays for Theatre for a New Audience include The Tempest (1986 Off-Broadway and 1987 at American Shakespeare Theatre; 1994: excerpts broadcast on PBS' Behind the Scenes); The Taming of the Shrew, (1988 Off-Broadway and North Shore Music Theatre) andTitus Andronicus (1994, Off Broadway). In 2000, Ms. Taymor directEd Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird on Broadway which was first produced in 1996 by Theatre for a New Audience at The New Victory Theater and subsequently toured to the La Jolla Playhouse.
In 1998, Ms. Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and also won a Tony for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. Celebrating its 16th anniversary this November, The Lion King is the highest-grossing show and fifth longest-running musical in Broadway history. Translated into seven different languages the show has been performed in 15 different countries on five continents.
For her latest Broadway production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Ms. Taymor served as director, co-book writer and mask-designer for the rock musical, which has consistently been one of Broadway's top-grossing shows since beginning performances in 2010. Her additional theatre work includes her Broadway debut in 1996 with Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, nominated for five Tony Awards, as well as The Transposed Heads, based on the novella by Thomas Mann, co-produced by the American Musical Theater Festival and Lincoln Center; and Liberty's Taken, an original musical co-created with David Suehsdorf and Elliot Goldenthal.
Ms. Taymor's feature film directorial debut, Titus, starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming. In 2002, her biographical film Frida, starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina, earned six Academy Award nominations, winning two. The music of the Beatles and the turbulent 1960s served as the backdrop for her next film, Across the Universe, which earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Ms. Taymor's most recent film, The Tempest, adapted the William Shakespeare play and featured an all-star cast including Helen Mirren, Ben Whishaw, Djimon Hounsou and Alfred Molina.
Beyond the theatre and screen, Ms. Taymor has directed five operas internationally including Oedipus Rex with Jessye Norman, for which she earned the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production. A subsequent film version premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won her an Emmy award. Ms. Taymor also directed Salome´, The Flying Dutchman, Die Zauberflöte (which has been in repertory at The Met for seven years), The Magic Flute (the abridgEd English version of Die Zauberflöte, which inaugurated a new PBS series entitled "Great Performances at The Met," and will return to the Metropolitan Opera stage this December) and Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel, which was performed at the Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival, and earned a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Ms. Taymor is a recipient of the 1991 MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship.