A native of San Francisco, Basil Twist is a third generation puppeteer now living in New York. He is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Basil’s work was first spotlighted in New York by The Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry with his award winning The Araneidae Show. Coupled with the subsequent critically praised and multiple award winning Symphonie Fantastique, Twist was revealed as a singular artist of unlimited imagination. Symphonie has since toured internationally and throughout the United States.
Highlights of Twist’s subsequent work have included Petrushka (commissioned by Lincoln Center) and Dogugaeshi (The Japan Society), Behind the Lid (Silver Whale Gallery) with the legendary Lee Nagrin and Arias with a Twist (HERE) co-created with nightlife icon Joey Arias. His productions have toured throughout the world.
On Broadway he created and staged the puppetry in The Addams Family for which he won a Drama Desk Award and staged the puppetry for the beloved Pee-Wee Herman Show. He made his debut at the Comedie Francaise as designer and co-director of A Streetcar named Desire with Lee Breuer. Basil’s work is deeply musical in nature. He has conceived and directed two successful operas, Ottorini Respighi’s La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco with the Gotham Chamber Opera at the Lincoln Center and Spoleto USA Festivals, and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel for the Houston and Atlanta Operas. Master peters Puppet Show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has adapted his Petrushka to concert hall staging with full orchestra for the Fort Worth and Phoenix Symphonies. His maverick Rite of Spring – a ballet without dancers made its world premiere this spring at Memorial Hall commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts.
Addtional collaborative work has included: In dance, Darkness and Light with Pilobolus and Wonderboy with The Joe Goode Dance Company. In drama, Paula Vogel’s play The Long Christmas Ride Home (including directing and designing the West Coast Premiere at The Magic Theatre), Red Bead, Peter and Wendy, puppetry for the Oskar Eustis-directed Hamlet for New York’s Shakespeare in the Park and Des Macunuff’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at the La Jolla Playhouse
Basil has taught at leading Universities such as Duke, New York University and Brown and as a guest lecturer of the US State Dept in Russia. He has received an Obie, a Drama Desk Award, five UNIMA Awards, two Bessie Awards, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, a Henry Hewes Award, a Guggenheim, a USA Artists fellowship and was most recently awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In 2012 Washington D.C. hosted a retrospective of his work, Twist Fest D.C. He is the director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE in New York. His new site-specific commission for the La Jolla Playhouse will make its world premiere on a beach in San Diego on October 3rd as a part of their WOW Festival.