Basil Twist

Photo by Elliott Verdier

Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer. Since coming to New York over 23 years ago, Twist has garnered an international reputation as an audacious designer, director and performer. He creates iconic, visionary puppetry worlds with a remarkable range of style and scope appearing in intimate nightclubs to large orchestra halls. He is a sought-after collaborator for theater, ballet, opera, dance and film. His utterly unique approaches have been recognized with multiple awards and fellowships; critical acclaim and have furthered contemporary artistry and the technical craft of puppetry. He is known for revitalizing puppetry as a serious and sophisticated art form through his imaginative experiments with materials, techniques and uses in both narrative and abstract works.

Basil’s shows range from productions of classic stories to abstract visualizations of orchestral music and are informed by puppetry traditions from around the world. He received a degree from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM) in Charleville-Mézières, France, where he was trained in set design, costume design, dramaturgy, music and acting. Basil’s original work includes Symphonie Fantastique (1998) which featured abstract materials in a tank of water to simulate imagery & characters to music. He contributed to the magic of Alfonso Cuarón’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, creating the Dementors. Highlights of his original shows include Petrushka, Doguagaeshi, Rite of Spring, Hansel & Gretel, Arias with a Twist, La Bella Dormente nel Bosco and Sisters Follies, A Streetcar named Desire (La Comédie Française, also co-director), and most recently the two operas TITON et l’AURORE Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore- Basil Twist (stage director) William Christie (conductor) at The Opera Comique and Versailles, The Book of Mountains and Seas by composer Huang Ruo and designer/director Basil Twist, premiered in Copenhagen, New York and at Koorbiennale in Amsterdam.  He is the puppetry designer and director for Olivier Award-winning My Neighbor Totoro which will return to The Barbican in the fall of 2023.  His past honors include an Obie, Henry Hewes and Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, multiple UNIMA and Bessie Awards, a Guggenheim fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship.  Since 1999 he has served as Artistic director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE in New York City.