My Neighbor Totoro (Artwork courtesy of Studio Ghibli and RSC)

Thursday, November 10 at 6:30pm

Tickets Available Now at JapanSociety.org $20 General Public / $16 Members

Puppet artist extraordinaire Basil Twist sits down to talk about his creative role in Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s upcoming staging of the beloved Studio Ghibli animated feature film, My Neighbor Totoro, in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV. Twist is known for surprising audiences with his infinite creativity, from 88 magical Japanese screen doors (Dogugaeshi) and dancing fabrics in an on-stage water tank (Symphonie Fantastique) to a gigantic rock creature in his most recent work (Book of Mountains & Seas). In this event, Twist will share backstage images and describe the process of creating real-life versions of the film’s fantastical creatures for the live staging of My Neighbor Totoro set to premiere at London’s Barbican this fall.

Join us for a special, separately-ticketed 35mm screening of this beloved classic anime on November 4 at 7pm, in Japanese with English subtitles. 

The conversation takes place at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at japansociety.org or by phone at the Japan Society Box Office, Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm at 212-715-1258. View Japan Society’s up-to-date visitor policies and safety protocols by clicking here.

Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer, originally from San Francisco. Since coming to New York over 23 years ago, Twist has garnered an international reputation as an audacious designer, director and performer. Twist 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 theatre, 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.

Twist 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. Twist’s shows range from productions of classic stories to abstract visualizations of orchestral music and are informed by puppetry traditions from around the world. Twist 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. Twist’s original work includes Symphonie Fantastique (1998) which featured abstract materials in a tank of water to simulate imagery and 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 PetrushkaDogugaeshi (commissioned by Japan Society), Rite of SpringHansel & GretelArias with a TwistLa Bella Dormente nel BoscoSisters FolliesA Streetcar named Desire (La Comédie Française, also co-director), and most recently the two operas Jean Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore at the Opera Comique (for online presentation in 2021 and live at the Palace of Versailles in 2022) and Book of Mountains & Seas by composer Huang Ruo in Copenhagen, New York City and soon to be at Koorbiennale Amsterdam. His honours include Obie, Henry Hewes and Doris Duke Performing 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.

About Japan Society

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Japan Society is the premier organization connecting Japanese arts, culture, business, and society with audiences in NYC and around the world. In over 100 years of work, we’ve inspired generations by establishing ourselves as pioneers in supporting international exchanges in arts and culture, business and policy, as well as education between Japan and the US. In 2022, Japan Society is celebrating our heritage through the 50th anniversary of our landmark building, designed by the late architect Junzo Yoshimura, with the launch of a new distinct modern logo and visual identity.  

Since the inception of Japan Society Performing Arts Program, the Program has brought 1000+ productions of and inspired by Japan to audiences in NYC and beyond through North American tours organized by Japan Society. Programs range from the traditional arts to contemporary theater, dance and music. Since the establishment of the Performing Arts Endowment in 2005, the Society also commissions non-Japanese artists to create Japan-related new works through fostering cross-cultural collaboration that has become part of its important mission.

Support for the 2022-2023 Japan Society Performing Arts Season

Lead Sponsor: MetLife Foundation. 

The season is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Major support is generously provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Doug and Teresa Peterson. Endowment support is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with a leadership gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional support is provided by Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II, Dr. Jeanette C. Takamura, Estate of Alan M. Suhonen, Nancy and Joe Walker, Dr. John K. Gillespie, Paula S. Lawrence, Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Michiko Levine, Hiroko Onoyama, Lyndley and Samuel Schwab, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, and Nora and David Tezanos.

Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society. 

Program Support & Partners:

Behind-the-Scenes at My Neighbor Totoro is supported by Doug and Teresa Peterson.

Miranda Curtis CMG is Lead Production Supporter of My Neighbor Totoro.

LOEWE is the Headline sponsor for My Neighbor Totoro.