THE BLOG
05/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Seen and Heard in New York: Sam Mendes, Juliet Rylance, James Taylor, Liev Schreiber

Director Sam Mendes and actress Juliet Rylance on the Bridge Project productions of The Tempest and As You Like It, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through March 13 http://www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=1179, and their craft. The productions--which feature American and British actors--will travel to the Old Vic in London this summer before closing at the Epidaurus Festival in Greece:

Sam Mendes:

"Film is truly a director's medium. You can control where you want the audience to look. The theater is an actor's and playwright's medium. You quickly learn that working with actors in each medium is completely different. It's possible to be a very good stage and film actor. The bravery of a stage actor is far more moving to me. To stand up in front of an audience and not have (the director) say cut is the ultimate act of bravery."

"The lovely thing about opening in New York is that it's the beginning of the process, not the end. We have seven more openings, each one will be totally different."

"There was no mention in the reviews (of the two plays) of accents, before we opened (the first Bridge Project season, in 2009), that's all anyone wanted to talk about. People should be able to work together, think about it. It's been taken for granted this year."

In the Bridge Project's next season "there will probably be a Shakespearean component. I would very much like to do an American classic with Shakespeare."

Juliet Rylance, Rosalind in As Like It and Miranda in The Tempest; her stepfather, Mark Rylance, was the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe theater in London and won a 2008 Tony award for best actor for his performance in Boeing-Boeing, while her mother, Claire van Kampen, was the Globe's first director of theater music:

"I love Shakespeare. Shakespeare really feels like home, because I've grown up with it. I watched my father play Hamlet over 300 times. I used to come home from school and then go straight to the theater, then do the box office, then hand out tickets, then usher and then watch the show. I feel like it's a second language really."

"It's my first time doing (both The Tempest and As You Like It.). My parents did The Tempest and I was a musician in the background for a couple of shows. They're a hard act to follow, my parents."

"I would say American audiences are often more vocal than English audiences, expressing their enthusiasm or their enjoyment of something or their questioning something. There's much more acknowledgment of whether a particular thought has been conveyed in a certain way, they'll express a reaction. BAM reminds me a lot of the Globe in the sense there's an audience that comes back here again and again and again and loves the theater. It's the same feeling as playing in the Globe, where you have an audience that just knows the space and is ready to be involved. So I think that the American-English audience thing is very much dependent on the space."

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The singer James Taylor--who will star in a series of special concerts in spring 2011 celebrating the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall--discussing his transformation from childhood cellist to guitar player:

"I played the cello for years. I was busting to get a guitar. My parents took me to New York from North Carolina, I harangued them to go to Schirmer's--the guitar I bought there is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My brother spray-painted it blue. Once you pick it up, start to get some sort of relationship with it, you can't wait to get back and continue. Once you ignite something like that, you're on your way. Once you start getting fed by it, you can't put it down."

Taylor gives a musical video tour of many of his guitars, one dating back to his "Fire and Rain" days:

http://www.carnegiehall.org/article/box_office/series/brochure/ser_726.html

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Actor Liev Schreiber, appearing as Eddie Carbone in the Broadway production of A View from the Bridge, discussing the play and his profession at the 92nd Street Y in New York http://www.92y.org/:

The director "Elia Kazan was sleeping with Marilyn Monroe. He then introduces her to his best friend, Arthur Miller (playwright of A View from the Bridge) and she fell for him. They started having an affair. Arthur Miller's marriage starts to fall apart, it's his best friend's girlfriend. Betrayal (in the play) means something different for me, Arthur Miller's own relationship to himself, his own morality, his own relationship with his wife. He was tortured. He knew he was in a dead-end relationship (with Monroe) the minute it started. He knew she was a tragic woman. It was a tragic situation to get into."

"It's the hardest play I've ever done. I'm really struggling."

"This is the first time, the first show where I really turn away (from the audience) a lot. There's something very self-conscious about the part, something very painful."

Iago and Macbeth "are the best parts. Their behavior really interests me the most, holds me the most. They're really fun to do, uncharted territory, you can invent it. The average person hasn't met a Macbeth. I really love playing characters people think are horrible. For me, the whole foundation in Shakespeare is duality. I have to like them to play them."

Acting in the theater is "a drug for me. You're connecting with 1,500 people at once. It's incredible because you feel understood, you feel related to. You get a sense of power from being able to orchestrate a shared feeling. You also feel you're not isolated, you're not so strange."

"Once you have kids, not much else is as interesting as that."

"The stage is more fun, films are boring."