Meet Three New “That’s Weird, Grandma” Characters!

Posted by Gavin on July 2, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

Rawson Vint in a makeshift astronaut suit with Rachel Wilson, Jasmine Jordan, and Joseph Schupbach to his left, participating in an astronaut camp

From anthropomorphized creatures, to talking food, to normal, everyday people, students in Barrel of Monkeys’ arts education programs create unique and imaginative characters that we love bringing to life on the Neo-Futurists’ stage. Some of these characters are so loved by Chicago audiences that they even become staples of the That’s Weird, Grandma repertoire!

Here’s a look at some of the newest characters you’ll meet in our current production, That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories.

1. Chanyeol, the Mafia’s Son

Rachel Wilson against a black background holding a notebook

Chanyeol - the main character in “With any dark path there is a light at the end…Right?” by Libby P. in our Loyola Park After School Program - is like many other moody teenage boys. He sits in his room, chronicling his angst in a secret journal. The one difference? Chanyeol’s father is a Mafia boss.

With any dark path there is a light at the end…Right? Asking that question every day gets tiring for chanyeol. Being only the mafia’s son, he had no control over his life. He was controlled, every move. Friends? Even if they knew, or cold do something, it wouldn’t make a Difference. His father, the only thing he did was the mafia himself. Controlling, manipulating, feard. Not a thing in Chanyeols life was free, he was destined to be the same as his father while the coming of age . . .


2. Duli

Brad Stevens with a paper duck beak on in front of a colorful curtain, dancing

Duli, a duck featured in “Duck Sili” by Isael C. from Graves Elementary, loves being silly. Unfortunately, his mother doesn’t appreciate his unbridled energy and constant dancing - so we watch as she learns to accept her son for who he is, silliness and all.

De Duck whas so sili sosososososo sili the he never stop Bin sili an her mom sed stop and Duli stop den duli fil to never stop den wen duli went to wis room and he stars bin sili. The End


3. The Girl With No Memory

Amy Williams in front of a red curtain with a large, blue

The Girl With No Memory comes to us from Amiyah S., a student at Johnson School of Excellence. No one knows why Racheal lost her memory - not even the host of the podcast that explores this mystery. Their mother and a local doctor try to wrap their minds around this strange phenomenon, accompanied by melodramatic music and spooky narration. 

one day their was a little girl who didn’t have any mamory when she got hom she brong her report card and she had all Fs and one a her Mom said how did she get The grade she had but she said nothing mom said racheal yes sweety do you know i got all these Fs sweety said her mom do you remember what happend at school? No i don’t it’s like i lost my memory . . .

We can’t wait for you to meet these folks now through July 16, along with even more characters that our students created during the 2017-18 school year. Our next performance is tonight at 8 - you can grab your tickets here!

Newness All Around!

Posted by Tom on June 25, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

Barrel of Monkeys recently started performances of That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories!

It’s been a tradition to introduce new stories to That’s Weird, Grandma after the school year has ended and we’ve performed our end of year show, Celebration of Authors. Not only do we have new sketches - but we also have a cast featuring new performers who haven’t done TWG!  We started rehearsing for the show on Saturday in the rehearsal space at the Barrel of Monkeys office in Ravenswood. 

Joe Schupbach, Jasmine Jordan, and Rachel Wilson rehearsing for The Girl with No Memory by Amiya S from Johnson School of Excellence.

Joe Schupbach, Jasmine Jordan, and Rachel Wilson rehearsing for The Girl with No Memory by Amiya S. from Johnson School of Excellence

On Sunday, we had another rehearsal and then took the show on the road to Rogers Park near the Lake off of Farwell.

Happy Father’s Day - and Super Hot Day, as it was in the 90s.

Joe Schupbach, Mary Tilden, and Rachel Wilson, pre show!

Joe Schupbach, Mary Tilden, and Rachel Wilson, pre-show!

We were definitely in the thick of things with performers singing, a guy cracking a whip in an open area, and people painting in the Artists of the Wall Festival - but we had to put the show on pause when it started to rain.  With electrical equipment, we want to make sure the performers are safe - as well as our paraphernalia. 

Brandon Cloyd and Mary Tilden putting a tarp over the piano AND Rawson Vint!

Brandon Cloyd and Mary Tilden putting a tarp over the piano - AND Rawson Vint!

Barrel of Monkeys is also proud to welcome three Barrel of Monkeys newbies to That’s Weird, Grandma - Noah Appelbaum, Jasmine Jordan, and Ida Cuttler (seen below)! 

Noah Appelbaum, Jasmine Jordan, and Ida Cuttler with Rachel Wilson before the show on Sunday. 

Following our touring performance, the production’s first show at the Neo-Futurists Theater last Monday had a great audience!  We were absolutely energized by the crowd as well as performing with each other after a brief hiatus. 

Barry Irving and Brad Stevens in Duck Sili by Iseal C. from Graves Elementary. height=

Barry Irving and Brad Stevens in Duck Sili by Iseal C from Graves Elementary. 

There’s four more chances to see That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories - including one tonight at 8!  We’d be honored to see you there.

Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd on “That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories” [video]

Posted by Gavin on June 15, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

Now that we’ve wrapped up our school residencies and closed the curtain on Celebration of Authors 2018, we’re ready to return to the Neo-Futurists Theater for That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories! We’re premiering sketches, songs, and dance pieces adapted from students’ stories written during the 2018-19 school year - and we can’t wait to share their wacky and poignant pieces with the wider Chicago theatre community.

We took a moment to talk with Brandon Cloyd, Barrel of Monkeys’ Artistic Director, about how excited he is to direct this production - take a look, then grab your tickets here. Performances begin this Monday night at 8!

Brand New Stories - They’re Almost Here! [Video]

Posted by Gavin on June 7, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

We’re wrapping up the school year with our show at Dewey School of Excellence this Friday and Celebration of Authors next Tuesday - but that doesn’t mean the Monkeys are taking a break! Beginning Monday, June 18, we’re back at the Neo-Futurists Theater for That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories.

We’ll be sharing some of our favorite adaptations from this year in the show - and to capture just how wacky and energetic it’ll be, we compiled this promo video featuring footage from some of our 2018-19 school performances. Take a look - and then join us at the Neo for the public premieres of our newest sketches and songs. You can purchase tickets here.

Three “Brand New Stories” From Barrel of Monkeys Students

Posted by Gavin on June 1, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

Our students write dozens of stories, poems, and dialogues during our in-school creative writing residencies. We’ve been teaching in elementary schools all across Chicago throughout the school year - so we have a plethora of new stories share with you!

That’s why we’re thrilled to return to the Neo-Futurists Theater this June for That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories, featuring adaptations created during the 2018-19 school year. We first performed these stories for students in their schools, and now we’re excited to give them their Grandma premieres.

Our first performance is still a few weeks away - but in the meantime, we want to share some of our favorite new stories with you!

1. The Girl who said NO!  By Victoria V.

We love adapting stories with a social justice angle, such as this piece from Columbia Explorers Academy (our longest-running school partnership) about a girl who chooses her passion for painting over marriage. Company members Juanita Anderson and Jon Schniedman took the adaptation an extra step by turning it into an original pop song - saxophone solo included.

Barrel of Monkeys Chicago Theatre The Girl Who Said No

Once a girl named Layla and she live in a Beautiful grey house that was very big and she loved painting. One day her dad said “you have to find A husband”. But Layla said “no I am fine all alone”. Her father said “oh but there is wonderful guys out there.” So all the guys came in even if Layla said no. After Layla meet all the guys she said no to all of them the last guy came and her dad liked him but Layla said no and she ran out. So no Layla lives in a little house she made and she has no husband and still love to paint. The End.

2. Larry’s LIfe by Treavan H.

Crafting a visually-engaging adaptation through choreography is always exciting for us. This story from Sherman School of Excellence, our newest school partner, details a grandmother’s plight to rid her house of a pesky mouse. We brought the story to life by forming a maze of lasers with red string and various poses, leaving Larry the rat to navigate through with stylized movement.

Larry's Life Barrel of Monkeys Chicago Theatre

Once upon a time there was a rat name Larry he Lived in a kitchen he had to kids name Jeff and Luke and a wife name timara he had a problem every time he went to get food he almost runs into mouse traps the women who owns the house has camra’s she is a grandma who is 90 years old and has a shot gun and always watches the camra’s so if the rat name Larry comes out she will know and she can see him and see where Larry’s going one day she saw him go into the hole at the hole she put a mouse trap there.

3. Shame by Ingil E.

Many of our students’ stories include masterful use of figurative language, rhyme, and alliteration, so they sound incredible when read aloud verbatim - and this is especially true of stories written during our Level II curriculum’s Poetry Day. Rawson Vint adapted this poem from Dixon Elementary School into an R&B song to capture the feel of the language, while Jen Allman choreographed a dance with umbrellas for an extra layer of spectacle.

shame Barrel of Monkeys Chicago Theatre

It was a cold night. Rained poured puddles and sleet slid off ceilings from yesterday. I wonder with a sad sorrow sulking voice, “Do igloos imitate iguanas or impress ice?” I wandered off in my mind, sad as a shrew on a sunday with no sunflower seeds. I was wearing a bashful baby blue, crying operas of sad body language. Tears fumbled down my posters of people’s postured and pasteurized face. All left was gloom, sadder than a dog caught destroying and damaging D-Rose sneakers. Captain Crunch was Captain Crud. Cocoa Puffs were Blank Puffs. And Fruit Loops was Gloom Rings. My piano weeped and guitar wined and trombone whimpered. I was a sad moon, wanting to shine but no sun reflection to do so. Drowned in doom and gloom, no life in my room, stale hay on my broom, sad depressed mushrooms, string and yarn too bummed to be loomed. Soon, the daylight and flowers began to bloom. My piano sang, my guitar talked soothingly, and my trombone whistled. The moon peeked from the sky, & the sun brought it out. Life listened and learned, and lived lively for life in my room. Shame shimmed on.  The End.

Want to join us for the public premieres of our latest adaptations? You can get tickets to That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories here. Plus, you’ll get to vote on which stories should stay in the Grandma repertoire - we think that’s pretty awesome!