Originally from San Francisco, Basil Twist is a third generation puppeteer, who lives and works in New York. He became the only American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France, one of the world’s premiere puppetry training programs.
Twist’s work was first spotlighted in New York in 1995 with his creation The Araneidae Show. Later presented in the 1996 International Puppetry Festival at The Public Theater, Twist was awarded a 1997 Bessie Award and a UNIMA Citation of Excellence. The production has toured internationally and most recently The Araneidae Show was seen at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum. 1998 was a landmark year for Twist with a Drama Desk Award nomination for his work with Theatre Couture’s Off-Broadway hit Tell Tale, and the premiere of Symphonie Fantastique at HERE Arts Center. Symphonie Fantastique subsequently has toured to San Francisco, Montreal, Washington DC, France, London and Munich and as a part of Lincoln Center’s New Vision’s series in New York in 2003. In the fall of 2004 Symphonie Fantastique was the inaugural production for Dodger Stages. For Symphonie Fantastique, Twist received a 1999 Drama Desk Nomination, a UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the Henry Hewes Design Award, and an OBIE Award.
Since 1998, Twist has continually expanded the realm of puppetry by creating and touring new works, focusing especially on work integrated with live music. In 2000, Twist’s Lincoln Center commissioned Petrushka premiered in New York and appeared at The Irving J. Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Michigan, The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in Connecticut, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts and at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. The production was awarded a 2000 UNIMA Citation of Excellence. Twist created Master Peter’s Puppet Show with Eos Orchestra, which premiered in New York and traveled to Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and to The Cleveland Art Museum. Twist developed the puppetry for Paula Vogel’s new play The Long Christmas Ride Home which received it’s world premiere at Rhode Island’s Trinity Repertory Company in May 2003, then at The Vineyard in November 2003 and The Long Wharf in January 2005. Twist was the underwater puppetry consultant on the third Harry Potter film.
With a grant from The Asian Cultural Council and Creative Capital he spent four months in Japan, and through a commission from The Japan Society premiered a new work “Dogugaeshi” in November 2004. His staging of Respighi’s rarely performed “La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco” premiered at Spoleto, USA in May 2005 and subsequently at Lincoln Center Festival in July of 2005. Red Beads, Twist’s collaboration with director Lee Breuer and composer Ushio Torikai, premiered at the Skirball Center in New York in September 2005. In September 2006 Twist made his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall with “Master Peter’s Puppet Show” with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Twist was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and The Atlanta Opera to create a new Hansel & Gretel, which premiered in 2006 and 2007 respectively. He collaborated with the late Lee Nagrin to realize their “Behind The Lid” at The Silver Whale Gallery. Twist is the director of The Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE Arts Center. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a United States Artists Fellow.
- Basil Twist - My webpage