Matt Sandbank's Shadow Factory

Matt Sandbank's Shadow Factory

Out of State Region
Nashville, Tennessee
[email protected]

Matt Sandbank believes in making both poetry and shadow puppetry fresh, exciting, and accessible to students, as well as teaching them how to use these art forms to empower themselves creatively. One residency designed to meet these goals is entitled, "Poet's Café." This program, which is typically best-suited for grades 2-5, opens with an assembly-style performance by Matt Sandbank, meant to excite students about the expressive possibilities that poetry and puppetry offer. Matt then visits individual classrooms, teaching students a method of poetry writing based on guiding imagery and free-associative word generation. Students draft their own poem during this initial classroom visit, and in a successive workshop, they learn how to illustrate their poems by making simple shadow puppets out of cardstock, flexistraws, and paper fasteners. Finally, students have the opportunity to practice reciting their poem and rehearsing with their puppets, often working in small collaborative groups in order to do so. "Poet's Café" concludes with a second assembly, this time with the students' creative work as the centerpiece, and an open mike/stage available, on which they can showcase their own poetry and/or puppetry. Each student who completes this program will know how to identify a central or guiding image for a work of art and will know basic structures for generating poetry as well as shadow puppetry from this starting point. Additionally, each student will understand some of the basic considerations in performing a puppet play (i.e. pacing, blocking, clarity) and will be able to offer constructive feedback to their peers. Matt Sandbank also offers workshops designed to show educators more in-depth uses of these art forms in the classroom. These workshops may easily be woven into this residency, and teachers are heartily encouraged to develop poems and puppetry of their own alongside students during the course of "Poet's Café."


Matt Sandbank's Shadow Factory is dedicated to creating and performing puppet shows that promote literacy and excite young people about the power of words and the imagination. Founder Matt Sandbank holds a degree in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and he spent two years as a middle school teacher before pursuing a career in puppetry. Matt studied shadow puppetry under Jim Napolitano and is a current member of Puppeteers of America. Wild Goose Chase Theater is based out of Nashville, TN, and tours nationally with original productions, as well as facilitating workshops and residencies in poetry-writing and shadow puppet-making.

AIE Program

Preferred Age Level: preK-6
Geographic Availability: statewide
Time Availability: open
Special Needs: A performance space that can become reasonably darkened; electrical outlets