Open Hand Theater

Artist in Residency

Open Hand Theater designs creative arts education projects that integrate performance, music, puppetry and visual arts into classroom studies. As working artists and performers we focus on the character, the story, the tune and the little details that make learning relevant to children.

At Open Hand Theater we strive to introduce children to experiences in the arts that are relevant to their lives and their learning. In cooperation with the classroom teacher, Open Hand Theater designs creative theater projects that enhance and integrate Common Core Curriculum Standards and community awareness into each program. These extended learning programs have ranged from a week-long Circus Arts program through Physical Education classes to a three month Social Studies program (now in its 5th year) with 3rd grades creating a unique large puppet performance. The listings below are examples.

To design an Arts Education Residency Project for your school, please use our Program Request form or contact

Andrea Wanderee 
Managing Director

World Studies Integration: Folk Stories especially for Third Grade

The class works together on narrative, dialogue, music and movement to create a production of a known story with Open Hand Theater’s larger than life puppets. This residency offers an in-depth exploration of the characters, the music and the settings that bring folk stories to life as they have been told from culture to culture.

Puppetry Playwriting Project: Creative Writing for 3rd-8th Grades

Students write their own plays, participating in character and scene development workshops, improvisation and collaborative editing. Open Hand Theater has developed this project with author Bruce Coville and educators from schools across the region. The project has given students an opportunity to imagine and write from their own experiences, to collaborate with each other on creative ideas, and to experience aspects of production for puppets and stage.

Mask Making and Characters: Theater Arts for Any Grade Level

Students create their own paper mache masks of the characters from chosen stories in an extended art project. Finished masks are then used in readers’ theater presentations enacting each story. This residency presents an integrated introduction to mask traditions from around the world.

Commedia dell'Arte: Improvisational Mask and Character Studies

Improvisational workshops for middle to high school students

With an introductory performance and focused hands-on activities the class learns about mask and character styles from Italian street theater that have laid the foundation for modern comedy. Open Hand Theater’s music and arts education director Leslie Archer guides students in an exploration of movement style and improvisation, stereotypes and comic scenarios.

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