Once upon a time,
way back in the idealistic 1960's, a children's musical puppet theatre was born.
It was the brainchild of an extraordinary woman, Sandra Robbins, who
dreamed of using light, color and sound to profoundly touch the
creative spirit within each child. Her dream was realized in the creation of The Shadow
For over four decades, The Shadow Box Theatre's (SBT) multi-ethnic troupe and their musical multi-media puppet plays have brought love, laughter, joy and affirmation to over two million children. Today, SBT is recognized as one of New York City's major arts resources. It is an award-winning non-profit repertory company dedicated to providing relevant, top-quality children's entertainment.
SBT's multi-sensory productions have a strong and immediate audio-visual impact on their young audiences. Their ultimate purpose is far-reaching. Children's theatre is more than a dynamic art form - it is a powerful educational tool. Through their synthesis of live interactive theatre, puppetry, song and dance, The Shadow Box Theatre:
The Shadow Box Theatre's musical puppet shows are a unique blend of puppet and live multi-media theatre. Original scripts unfold, combining the energy of the talented performers with joyous singing, spirited dancing, extensive audience participation, and the special magic of puppetry. The puppets take on a life of their own: hand puppets, rod puppets, body puppets and - especially - Shadow Box's own re-creation of the ancient Asian art of shadow puppetry.
The Storyteller and puppet friend See-More set the stage. The curtain opens, and a picture book comes to life. Brilliantly colored shadow puppets move magically across the stage... comical hand puppets evoke gales of laughter... dancers and singers invite the audience into the story. The hall is filled with joyous sounds of childhood.
Here is an overview of some of our repertoire of 21 productions of children's puppet musicals from which we choose our performing seasons:
THE EARTH AND ME
(Hand in Hand) - A Celebration of the Earth
Shadow Box casts begin with a key ensemble that has been with the company for many years. This includes actors, musicians, puppeteers, and choreographers who have become part of the SBT family. In addition, each year we hold auditions. We strive to build a multi-ethnic ensemble both for the children in our audience to identify with role models and to see diversity in action. We look for performers who have a special interest in working with children. It takes a unique kind of talent to hold the attention of, charm, and enchant a theatre full of young children. Even after the show, our casts remains "on," as they come down from the stage and mingle and interact with the children.
Our storytelling artists and workshop leaders also include people who have been with SBT for years, although we are always on the lookout for new talent in these areas as well. The ability to reach out creatively to children is of course an essential quality in all these individuals, as is experience in working in the NYC school system.
Our talented artists include singers and musicians who perform gigs and record with jazz ensembles and other groups in the U.S. and abroad, and actors and puppeteers who regularly perform with some of the cutting-edge, downtown theatre companies of NYC.
An essential part of the SBT family is our administrative staff who are available in the SBT offices to answer questions about all our programs.
Peek in on a Shadow Box Theatre audience and you'll see something like a kid's United Nations, a cross-section of the City's diverse populations. SBT's school shows, with low group ticket rates and convenient weekday schedules, provide a stimulating creative experience for inner city pre-school and elementary children. The interactive nature of the shows allows them to participate regardless of functional level. Elementary, special education, ESL and family audiences alike respond to the vivid sights and sounds of an SBT performance. Because of this direct involvement, Shadow Box Theatre shows have become cherished landmarks in the imaginative lives of their young audiences. Family weekend performances afford an unparalleled opportunity for cross-cultural exchange, drawing a faithful following from the immediate neighborhood and the extended metropolitan area. Three generations of young television viewers have seen SBT segments on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Romper Room and Vegetable Soup. Shadow Box audiences continue to share their enthusiasm with classmates, friends and family long after the show is over. The impact on one child who sat in the audience years ago was so long-lasting that he went on later to become an SBT performer.
See-More is SBT's
hallmark puppet character. He appears in every main stage show, and
represents each youngster in the audience. Like a child in its parent's
lap, See-More observes and participates. He is held securely in the
Storyteller's arms, creating an intimate and safe space where he
embodies the universal wonder of childhood. When the children leave the
theatre after the show, they often hug and kiss him goodbye.
The first thing a theatre needs is a place to perform. For many years SBT was happily home-based in community centers and public schools in Harlem and other Manhattan neighborhoods. Still, we often wished for the stability of space of our own. Then, in 1989, SBT found a home in the landmark Memorial Hall of the YWCA of Brooklyn. We remained there through 2006, when they closed their doors for a major renovation.
Recognizing our mutual interest in community service, in 2008 we found a new home theatre in The Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street.
When 45 Bleecker Street could no longer serve as our home, we were thrilled to form a partnership with PS 3 in Bed/Stuy, providing us with a home for our productions and the school with a rich source of arts enrichment for its children. We look forward to seeing you there!
Thank you to all the various schools and community centers that understood our mission and gave us a home: