Open Hand Theater


Open Hand Theater was born out of Seedling Theater of Oneonta New York. Open Hand Theater began its journey in 1980. Its first steps were from a small Syracuse loft studio space in an abandoned warehouse area later to be known as the revitalized Armory Square. The theater moved to Plymouth Congregational Church in 1985 initiating the first of a series of collaborations in the Syracuse community and beyond that have helped set the theater on its current path. From its earliest days, Open Hand Theater has had a strong commitment to community involvement, education, social concerns and community development.

Early productions included the Imagination Celebration Parade, winter pageants downtown, and children’s touring performances.

Uniquely the theater has worked with such diverse groups as the Onondaga Nation School, and the Skomorokh Theater of Siberia - touring Russia and the US with "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

In 1999 the theater opened the International Mask and Puppet Museum. The Museum, housed in a miniature castle built in 1890 is a unique center for performance and the puppetry arts.

Hand in Hand Youth Theater, Open Hand's children's theater program, was started in 1989, and provides training for young theater artists. In addition, the Theater conducts annual Summer Circus Camps as well as other vacation camps. Open Hand Theater's commitment to children in upstate New York is extensive. Its collaborations with the Syracuse City School District have brought a unique opportunity for a broad range of young people.

Open Hand Theater conducts innovative collaborations and partnerships. Past collaborations have included productions of "Sleeping Beauty" with Upstate New York Ballet, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Plymouth Congregational Church, performances with the Society for New Music, local artist Roger Bingham Morris, and unforgettable production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" with Syracuse Opera. Most recently Open Hand Theater collaborated with Syracuse Stage, Imagining America, Syracuse University and four neighborhood organizations to create Art~in~Motion.

Awards that Open Hand Theater and its staff have received include:


Collaboration with the Skomorokh Theater of Tomsk, Siberia Russia; co-directors Roman Vinderman and Geoffrey Navias received the "Best Directors Award" from the International Puppet Theater Festival of Siberia and the Far East for the united production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."


"People of Achievement" from Syracuse Newspapers


Peace Action Award


Award for "Service to Puppetry" from Northeast Region of Puppeteers of America

"Through their high quality exhibitions of puppets and masks from around the world, their presentation of performances by some of the top puppet companies in the U.S., their teaching and classes, and their outreach into the community they have brought an awareness of the world of puppets to central New York State."

The award for Service was presented at the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Festival of the Puppeteers of American, July 11-14, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.


"Leadership in Community Development" (to Geoffrey Navias) from Onondaga Citizens League


"Inspiration in the Arts" (to Leslie Archer) from the Media Unit


"Horizon Award" (for "The Magic Flute," a collaboration with Syracuse Opera) from Cultural Resources Council of Onondaga County


"Inspiration in the Arts" (to Geoffrey Navias) from the Media Unit

Open Hand Theater · 518 Prospect Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13208-2523 · (315) 476-0466 ·