Basil Twist

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Basil Twist
ResidenceNew York City, New York
OccupationDirector, puppeteer

Basil Twist is a New York City-based puppeteer who is best known for his underwater puppet show, "Symphonie Fantastique".[1] He was named a MacArthur genius grant recipient on September 29, 2015.[2]

Life and work[edit]

Originally from San Francisco, Basil Twist is a third generation puppeteer. He graduated from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières, France. He is founder and director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at Here Arts Center in NYC, which supports and produces new puppet artists. He was a Fall 2015 MacArthur Fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts.[3]

Twist has significantly contributed to the art of puppetry since 1998. He creates puppet works focused on their integration with music. His "Symphonie Fantastique", is performed to the symphony of the same name. Twist's version of "Master Peter's Puppet Show" was created with the Eos Orchestra and later performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.[4] Twist's "Dogugaeshi" features original shamisen compositions created and performed live by master musician Yumiko Tanaka.[5] He also directed and designed Humperdinck's opera, Hansel and Gretel, for the Houston Grand Opera and the Atlanta Opera.[6] In 2010, Twist created the puppetry for the Broadway productions of The Pee-wee Herman Show and The Addams Family.[7] Twist is known for his original adult puppet mediums and use of abstraction in puppetry. "Symphonie Fantastique" takes place in a tank of water. In "Red Beads", his collaboration with Lee Breuer and Mabou Mines, he created wind puppetry.[8] In "Dogugaeshi" he uses the Japanese art form of sliding screens.

Other works include La Bella Dormente nel Bosco, Petrushka, Hansel and Gretel, Master Peter's Puppet Show, the Araneidae Show, Behind the Lid, and Arias with a Twist, among others. He has collaborated with such artists as Joey Arias, Lee Breuer, Pilobolus, Paula Vogel and Joe Goode.

He is considered an important theater artist by critics of The New York Times, The New Yorker, et al.[9] He has received national and regional recognition through numerous awards, including a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, an Obie Award, a Creative Capital Award in the discipline of Performing Arts [10] and a Guggenheim fellowship, and his work has been presented internationally.[11][12][13]

In 2006, he had a solo exhibition at the Lisa Dent Gallery in San Francisco, CA.


Basil Twist with a "Video Puppet"
  1. ^ Brantley, Ben "Wash Cycle Dreams, Via Berlioz", The New York Times, June 3, 1998
  2. ^ Pogrebin, Robin. "MacArthur "Genius Grant" Winners for 2015 Are Announced". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  3. ^ NYU Web Communications. "NYU CBA Fellow Basil Twist and Alumnae Mimi Lien Michelle Dorrance Honored with MacArthur Foundation Grants". Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  4. ^ "First, a bit of fantasy", Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2006
  5. ^ Spangler, Lois, "Dogugaeshi",, September 14, 2007[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Ward, Charles, "HGO's Hansel and Gretel: laughs and subversion", Houston Chronicle, December 1, 2006
  7. ^ STAGE TUBE: Pee-Wee Herman Goes Biking with Jimmy Fallon, Broadway World, October 15, 2010]
  8. ^ Jefferson, Margo, A Girl Caught in an Eternal Family Triangle, The New York Times, September 22, 2005
  9. ^ Acocella, Joan, "Doll Houses", The New Yorker, April 21, 2008
  10. ^ (
  11. ^ "New York News, Food, Culture and Events – Village Voice". Village Voice. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  12. ^ Lipton, Brian Scott, Rinne Groff and Basil Twist Win Guggenheim Fellowships, TheatreMania, April 10, 2006
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam, Arias with a Twist Will Make European and Screen Premieres, Playbill, February 2, 2009

External links[edit]