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120 Morris St. Downtown Durham
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Matt Sandbank has toured nationally with his shadow puppetry programs since 2009. As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s creative writing program and a former middle school teacher, Matt brings his love of literature and his experience as a teacher to each of his performances. His work delights audiences of all ages at schools, libraries, museums, and festivals. Some performances of note include the 2013 Nashville International Puppetry Festival, the 2015 San Antonio International Children’s Puppetry Festival, the 2019 Puppeteers of America National Festival in Minneapolis, MN, and the 2021 Electricity Exhibition of Light and Art in Detroit, MI. Matt’s nonverbal show, “Still Life” was awarded support from the Puppeteers of America Rose Endowment Grant Fund.


Sand Bank Shadow Factory 

Residency Writer’s Block

GRADES: 3-12, Adults

DESCRIPTION: In Writer’s Block, Matt Sandbank introduces students to the creative process he uses for developing new stories and shadow puppets. Small-group workshops make the writing process fun and accessible for young writers, teaching them to recognize literary concepts such as character, conflict, and mood and to use these devices to create a “story starter.” Students also receive hands-on experience with the art and science of shadows through “Shadow Lab,” a series of interactive installations set up in a library, multipurpose room, or similar dedicated space. All students have the opportunity to construct their own puppet in “Shadow Lab.” 

Max Participants: 30

Duration:  Minimum 3 days. Maximum 15 days. 

Special Requirements: Space requirements include 4’ x 6’ for puppet stage setup, plus floor space where students can sit. For the “Shadow Lab” component, the artist will need access to electrical outlets, 15′ x 15′ or larger space to set up 5 separate installations, and a table where shadow puppet making materials may be set out.

Fee: $312.50 per session (contact the CAPS office for possible discounts)


 Writer’s Block

GRADES:  3-12, Adults

DESCRIPTION: In Writer’s Block, Matt Sandbank uses shadow puppetry to help students take joy in writing and begin their own fictional stories. Students watch Matt create characters, establish conflict, and manipulate a story’s mood on the shadow screen. For each of these illustrative examples, they participate in a discussion of literary concepts and perform a piece of pre-writing for their own “story starter.” As this workshop progresses and student stories take shape, the focus shifts away from the shadow theater and towards the students’ writing efforts, which typically result in drafts a few sentences to several paragraphs in length.

 Max Participants: 50 

 Duration: 45-60 minutes

Special Requirements: Space requirements include 4’ x 6’ for puppet stage setup plus floor space where students can sit. Students will need  tools for writing, and the artist will also need access to electrical outlets. 

Fee per Workshop: $312.50 per workshop (contact the CAPS office for possible discounts)

Performance A Wild Goose Chase!


DESCRIPTION: Poetry springs hilariously to life as soon as Matt Sandbank’s shadow puppets hit the screen! A Wild Goose Chase comprises a series of interactive vignettes and verses that illustrate key poetic devices–such as rhythm, imagery, metaphor, simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and narrative–for elementary school audiences. This show, full of wit and whimsy, will send young people to the 811 section of your school or community library so that they can dive into poetry themselves!

 Max Participants: Maximum of 450 students per show. 300 students recommended

 Duration: 45 minutes 

Special Requirements:Space requirements include 4’ x 6’ for puppet stage setup plus floor space where students can sit. Students will need tools for writing, and the artist will also need access to electrical outlets.

Fee: $500 per performance (contact the CAPS office for possible discounts)


Shadow Puppetry –  Fundamentals of Design & Performance

GRADES:  9-12

DESCRIPTION: This workshop begins by giving participants a mesmerizing demonstration of a professional-
grade shadow theater performance. From there, Matt and workshop participants will
together explore the intricacies of aesthetic considerations in shadow puppet design as well
as strategies for utilizing the most possible mechanical advantage in construction of shadow
actors. The workshop culminates in a puppet manipulation and performance segment,
refining skills essential for bringing shadows to life on stage.

Max Participants: 40 

Duration: 45-60 minutes

Special Requirements: Space requirements include 5’ x 3’ area for puppet demonstration, as well as seating, desk/table workspace, and scissors for participants. Access to at least two electrical outlets.

Fee per Workshop: $350 per single workshop, $700 for two workshop sessions at the same location on same day