Alisa Solomon: You’re using children as the Fairies — right? — or the Elementals, as you are calling them.
Julie Taymor: Yes, there are 20 prepubescent kids. They not only play the Fairies, as written, but also play the forest. They’re the trees, the creatures, dogs, does, snakes, bats, moths. They are the wind, they’re your mind. They’re Puck’s posse, who terrorize the Mechanicals when Bottom changes. They’re an incarnation of the emotions of the lovers. They’re the nightmare of Hermia. They are the elements.
Solomon: Were you jumping off of the scholarly conjecture that historically, in the original production, the Fairies were indeed played by children?
Taymor: No, I don’t care what other productions did, though I would imagine that they would have been children. I think it works better with children, just the idea of it, the energy. Most initiation ceremonies all over the world are when you’re 13 or so, when you finally start to have sexuality that is recognizable and separates boys from girls, and they have to control their nature. That’s what we call it: our nature. So I wanted that feeling. What has been amazing in the rehearsals with these kids is the sheer joy they get out of a trap opening, or a line coming down. I mean, seriously, the unfettered, sheer, pure, direct emotion.
Solomon: Isn’t that the thrilling thing that theater lets all of us do — I mean, don’t we get to have that sort of childlike wonder?
Taymor: Well, that’s what I hope. It goes to a DNA part of us that relates to the first shadows on the wall that were made into foxes and rabbits. Where we suspended our disbelief and we said: “Oh yes, I know it’s a hand with a light behind it casting a shadow; but no it’s not, it’s a fox, it’s a rabbit.”
— Julie Taymor interviewed by Alisa Solomon about her production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream