From: San Francisco, California. LA Opera: The Book of Mountains and Seas (2024).
Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer. He is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Basil’s showmanship was spotlighted in New York by the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry with his award winning The Araneidae Show. This recognition coupled with the ground-breaking and multiple award-winning Symphonie Fantastique, Twist was revealed as a singular artist of unlimited imagination.
Highlights of subsequent work have included Petrushka (commissioned by Lincoln Center) and Dogugaeshi (The Japan Society), Behind the Lid (Silver Whale Gallery) with the late Lee Nagrin and Arias with a Twist, co-created with nightlife icon Joey Arias. Symphonie and these productions have now toured throughout the world. In 2012 a cohort of Washington D.C. presenters hosted a retrospective of his work, featuring four productions and an exhibition. His site-specific commission Seafoam Sleepwalk for the WOW Festival at the La Jolla Playhouse was a festival favorite. Rite of Spring was commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts & made its world premiere at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013, appearing also at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Sisters Follies was created for Abrons Arts Center’s 100th Anniversary in 2015
Deeply musical in nature, Mr. Twist thrives in the world of opera. He just created a new Titon et l’Aurore with Les Arts Florissants at the Opera-Comique in Paris. He recently collaborated with Phelim McDermott on Aida at English National Opera, Geneva Opera House and Houston Grand Opera, and with Dick Bird on Otello at the Vienna State Opera. A new production of Ottorini Respighi’s La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco (Sleeping Beauty) was created with the Gotham Chamber Opera for Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto USA Festivals, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel for Houston Grand Opera, Atlanta Opera and Detroit Opera. De Falla’s Master Peter's Puppet Show was commissioned by Eos Orchestra and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Broadway credits include puppetry design for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oh, Hello!, The Addams Family and puppetry direction for the beloved Pee-Wee Herman Show.
His work has received an Obie, Drama Desk Awards, UNIMA Awards, Bessie Awards, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, and a Henry Hewes Award. He has been honored with a MacArthur, the “Rome Prize” from the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, USA Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and his productions have received numerous grants from the Jim Henson Foundation.
Twist guides the internationally recognized Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE in New York City.
Learn more at BasilTwist.com.