Although Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark continues to barrel towards its March 15 opening date with no announcement as yet of another delay, outside observers may have gleaned that the show isn’t quite ready for its official debut. It’s the little hints, like the crowdsourcing, the complete overhauls of its story and music, and the fact that every critic who’s seen it pretty much said so using English.
Now even director Julie Taymor has acknowledged that the show still needs some work, and in true Julie Taymor fashion, did so in the most gilded and pretentious way possible: At the TED conference, Taymor humbly said she was “in the crucible and the fire of transformation,” adding that “anyone who creates knows—when it’s not quite there. Where it hasn’t quite become the phoenix or the burnt char. And I am right there.” Piling on the metaphors, she related the production of the musical and its battle with injuries, safety citations, and relentless critical panning to this one time she went to Indonesia, where she and a friend climbed up between a dead and a live volcano, and her friend disappeared in the smoke and left here there alone:
“It’s very easy to climb up, is it not?” she said. “I am on the precipice looking down into a dead volcano on my left, on the right it is sheer shale. I am in thongs and sarong and no hiking boots. I realize I can’t go back the way I have come. I can’t. So I throw away my camera. I throw away my thongs and I looked at the line straight in front of me. And I got down on all fours like a cat. And I held with my knees to either side of this line in front of me—30 yards or 30 feet, I don’t know. The wind was massively blowing, and the only way I could get to the other side was to look at the line straight in front of me.”
So, in this metaphor, the volcano she’s climbed is the millions of dollars of investor money, we guess, the “wind” is the press, her disappeared friend is… Bono, maybe? And her thongs are the troublesome parts of the script. Anyway, Taymor then added, “I know you have been there. I am in the crucible right now. It is my trial by fire. It’s my company’s trial by fire. We have survived because our theme song is ‘Rise Above,’” referring to both that song and “Boy Falls From The Sky” from the show as the inspiration for her and her cast as they continue to walk “the fine line at the edge of the crater.” Uh, does the New York State Dept. of Labor know she’s putting actors on the edges of craters now?