Sandra Robbins, Founder and Artistic Director of The Shadow Box Theatre (SBT), was born in Brooklyn at the height of the depression to a Russian immigrant family. Food was scarce, but there was always a flower on the table and music on the radio. "There is always a rainbow after the rain," her father would say, and she has dedicated her professional life to bringing rainbows into people's lives, particularly children's.
Starting as a modern dancer, Sandra was accepted into the first class of NY's High School of Performing Arts, and so her career began. Some of her fondest memories were of teaching dance to children. Although dance was her muse, her love for teaching and inspiring children (and a need to earn a living!) prevailed; she received an Early Childhood Education degree from Brooklyn College. Over the next years she married, taught and had three children. Living on Manhattan's West Side, Sandra and a group of local mothers flexed their community activism muscles and persuaded the city to re-open a long dormant neighborhood park. They developed a project called the Bloomingdale Family Program, still in existence, bringing families of diverse backgrounds together to share their culture and the needs of their young children. Sandra headed the early childhood program -- and one summer, she coordinated an "Arts in the Park" program in East and West Harlem, where she developed stories using shadow puppetry. Community residents urged her to create a theatre for children -- "Our children need it!" With many volunteers and the offer of community space, The Shadow Box Theatre was born.
Now, 40 years later, under her leadership and with the help of many talented people, SBT is still going strong. Sandra has written, directed, and performed in over 20 musical puppet plays. At the request of teachers and parents, she has taken "the Stage to the Page," transforming ten of her plays into children's books and audiotapes. These are in wide use in NYC schools through SBT's active and successful arts-in-education workshop program, as well as in homes and libraries around the country.
The community support for Sandra's artistic vision is exemplified in
SBT's wonderful partnership with the Brooklyn Music School Playhouse (beginning in 2007), and the Brooklyn YWCA (1989-2006), as the
children's theatre-in-residence. In June of 2000, she received a “Woman of Distinctions Award” from the YWCA. In all, through the totality of SBT's
programs, 60,000 mostly inner-city children are reached each year by
SBT's brand of special magic -- over two million children since the
inception -- a happy outcome for Sandra's labor of love!
With all of the above -- plus by now being a grandmother of six -- Sandra feels her life has been "truly blessed."