Puppeteer Basil Twist Launches Kickstarter to Complete Work on Project With Late Trailblazer Lee Nagrin

By Adam Hetrick
17 Apr 2014

A Kickstarter campaign is underway to complete work on a feature-length documentary film that captures Behind the Lid, the downtown production by late trailblazing avante-garde artist Lee Nagrin and acclaimed puppeteer Basil Twist.



Behind the Lid, which presented audiences with an array of vignettes that featured Twist and four puppeteers performing alongside effigies and totems of Nagrin, ran for only six weeks in 2007. It began performances June 3, just four days before Nagrin died at the age of 78. The production received strong critical response, including praise from the New York Times. 

The intimate work, which was presented for only 18 audience members at a time, was filmed by Steve Lippman days after the production closed at Nagrin's now-gone Silver Whale Gallery at 21 Bleecker Street. Due to cost and issues with Nagrin's estate, the film was never completed.

Producer Barbara Busackino and Twist (Arias With a Twist, The Addams Family) have now launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete work on the film. Click here to learn more.

Funds raised will support color correction, editorial, titles/credit design, additional dialogue recording/dubbing, sound mixing and will help with the creation of screening/archive masters that can be shared with film festivals around the globe.

According to the Kickstarter page, "The film of Behind the Lid is one of the remaining preservations of [Nagrin's] work. It was shot directly after the close of the run, performed solely for the cameras over 2 days, before the sets, puppets and props were permanently struck. The phantom camera takes you through the performance experience as if you were the sole person seeing it, and also from the perspective of the puppet effigy of Lee. The film is both an elegy and a unique document of this sensory theatrical event.... Lee is gone. The sets are gone. The landscape that nurtures this kind of theatre has dwindled. The end of shooting on film is declared near. And yet, here we are, with all the spirits and mediums preserved."

Here's how the production is described: "Behind the Lid is the story of an older woman in her 70's who is looking back on her life through a dream; within the dream of the performance, the real memories and real dreams of this woman are revealed through the confluence of text, puppetry, music and light. As the audience takes a journey through this woman's life, they will form their own dream, as they experience layer upon layer of her memories, of her life. The woman's life and dreams, as the play reveals, is Lee Nagrin's, the prime creator of the text. Twist creates the puppetry, and performs alongside Nagrin."

Behind the Lid was directed and designed by Twist, with costume design by Sally Ann Parsons, lighting design by Tony Giovanetti, sound design by Moira Lael MacDonald and projection design by Daniel Brode.

It was performed by Twist, Oliver Dalzell, Yvette Edery, Randy Ginsburg, Kirsten Kammermeyer and Jamie Moore.