SoHo: A Fantastic Underwater Puppet Show Experience

The pianist Christopher O'Riley plays as the puppet show ensues behind him.

Basil Twist’s Underwater Symphonie Fantastique in SoHo

By Taylor Owens

A one-of-a-kind production at the HERE arts compound in SoHo is currently taking place. The “Symphonie Fantastique” is a puppeteer deluxe Basil Twist’s reimagining of Berlioz’s 1830 musical masterpiece portrayed as a water ballet.

Several different colored fabrics are swirled through the 1,000-gallon aquarium.

This striking performance completely enraptures all of its viewers as the puppeteers swirl, twirl, unfurl, and float beautiful pieces of cloth and plastic through a large 1,000-gallon tank of water. This production is accompanied by the theatrical pianist Christopher O’Riley who adds an enchanting touch to the show.

The performance takes place in a rather small theater with an enormous aquarium at the front of the space. As soon as the lights are dimmed, the pianist begins to play, and all of the viewers become captivated by the intense colors and movement taking place in the water tank in front of them.

A Musical Masterpiece Inspired by an Opium Reverie

The puppetry shifts between beautiful, flowing movements and sharp, quick motions of the fabric that are perfectly in sync with Berlioz’s musical piece.

Berlioz’s musical chef-d'œuvre tells the story of an opium daydream that is haunted by the dreamer’s obsession with an alluring woman.

The flowing fabrics are accompanied by a vibrant light show in the aquarium.

Experiencing Synesthesia

From start to finish, viewers are caught in a dream-like trance that allows the mind to travel into a state of synesthesia.

Representing Berlioz’s masterpiece through a visual presentation allows viewers to hear with their eyes, or see with their ears.

The performers in this production manipulate various different pieces of material as a team behind the scenes. Each of the performers are clad in a wetsuit so that they are able to reach into the tank to maneuver bed linens, fringed cloth, Mylar panels, and large feathers throughout the water.

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Giving Inanimate Objects Life

The puppet show's logo displays some of the key colors that are prevalent in the performance.

“Symphonie Fantastique” is a captivating creation by Basil Twist who is known for his work with inanimate matter and objects by giving them life and animation.

Mr. Twist’s talents have been displayed in drag shows, Broadway musicals, major movie productions, and beautiful dance productions.

Breaking the Barriers

The “Symphonie Fantastique” was designed to be a production that breaks the barriers of literal theatrical representation in order to present a performance that showcases a visual equivalent of the epicurean experience of Berlioz’s 1830 masterpiece.

Dark-colored fabrics enter the aquarium during an intense section of Berlioz's masterpiece.
Dark-colored fabrics enter the aquarium during an intense section of Berlioz's masterpiece.

For more information:

Visit the HERE Theater in SoHo at 145 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013.

Tickets are between $35 - $120. The performance will run until September 2nd, 2018. Website


Taylor Owens

Taylor Owens is a Tennessee native who is currently calling the Massachusetts Berkshires home. She is passionate about the classics, folk music, and coffee. Taylor spends her days as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, paddling plenty of rivers, skiing the slopes, sipping coffee, or on the hunt for the best breakfast.