History

Once upon a time...

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 Box Theatre (SBT) –a three-fold program of Performances, Theatre Arts Workshops, and a publishing arm entitled See-More’s Workshop that produces Children’s Read-Aloud Books and Read-Along Audios, Show CD’s and DVDs and Teacher’s Guides.

SBT began as a grass roots community organization. It all started one summer, when a group of mothers living on the west side of Manhattan decided to re-open a park by the Hudson River. Sandra, a Dancer, an Early Childhood Teacher and a Storyteller, spear-headed the Early Childhood Program. Soon there were strollers, with children in tow, parading to Riverside Park. By 11 AM there was a large circle of children and parents gathered for the magic of an interactive musical storytelling. By fall the popular program had a title, The Bloomingdale Family Program, (still existing today) and moved indoors to the Children’s Aid Society. The objective was to create communication within the families of this very diverse multi-cultural community. The following summer the program acquired a bus entitled The Children’s Caravan, that had a movie screen and seats. The bus traveled all over the parks in Harlem, East Harlem and the upper West Side with activities for kids. The movie screen turned into a magical shadow puppet screen for Sandra’s story telling for and by the children. In the fall she created a fund raising event featuring her first shadow puppet production. By the end of the third performance that day, given to standing ovations, many people had come up to her saying, “Sandy, start a children’s theatre!”. And so the journey began.

By 1967 The Shadow Box Theatre was incorporated. At its very roots was the mission to open doorways of communication between New York’s inner-city multi-cultural children and families through the transformative power of theatre. From its inception the vision was to promote social and personal development; creativity and learning through the arts; to teach tolerance and respect for diversity; to develop environmental awareness and peaceful solutions; and through the creative lens of the arts, provide children with a positive view of themselves, their world and their future.

Today, SBTs full range of services and activities include: resident and city-wide performing seasons of productions from its original repertoire; creative arts workshops in New York City schools (NYC Dept. of Education Vendor) and cultural centers; and, through its publishing arm, See-More's Workshop, illustrated storybooks and CDs/DVDs containing the music and songs from our productions as well as publication of educational materials. Through all its programs, SBT reaches over 35,000 children, teachers and parents a year. With the hallmark of audience participation, over 2 million children, teachers and families have learned, laughed and had their horizons expanded by the magic of The Shadow Box Theatre.