Meet Julie Taymor, Director of The Lion King
These impossible questions found one brilliant answer, when Thomas Schumacher (President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Group) remembered a unique theatre artist he had worked with previously. That artist’s name was Julie Taymor.
“When I met with Julie Taymor, I could see she had a new vision for the project”, Schumacher says. “She was excited by the music, by the setting and by the opportunities for staging. She was challenged by the task of re-creating something that theatregoers would know by heart, but she wanted them once again to feel in their heart. We encouraged her not to feel bridled by the look of the movie and to create something wholly original from it.”
Chosen to direct as well as design the look of the production, Taymor immersed herself in the project, discovering unique and exciting ways to overcome obstacles.
Rather than be limited to one particular style, Taymor used a wide range of theatrical styles, conventions and traditions from around the world to tell the story. Handheld puppets, full-body puppets, shadow puppets, masks, elaborate costuming, stilts, kites... no device would be off-limits, as long as it engaged an audience and their imaginations.
Her one central rule was that the performer would never be hidden by the device. “One of the most powerful elements of the film is the rich humanity of the animal characters,” she explains. “I wanted the human being to be an essential part of stylisation. I wanted the audience to marvel at what a human being can do through true technical prowess.”