Loyola Park, we heart you.

Posted by Lauren S. on May 16, 2008

After School Program

Hello everyone!  Lauren here, writing to you from our beautiful Loyola Park After School Program!  I’m here to impart to you some very important and exciting information regarding the upcoming Loyola Park show.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Oh sure, a Barrel of Monkeys’ school show.  I understand.  That’s when those crazy Monkeys perform brilliant stories that the brilliant children have written…brilliantly.”  Well, blog reader, you are right to think those things.  However, I must tell you, the tables have turned.  The tide has changed.  The roles have been reversed. 

Allow me to explain (as if I’m a Medieval town crier).

“Hear ye, hear ye!  For the first time in Barrel of Monkeys’ history, the students of the Loyola Park After School Program are performing in their very own Monkey-style show!”

Good people, your ears do not deceive you!  These fabulously creative authors have written an array of monologues, dialogues and group stories that they will perform this week for an audience of family, friends and fellow Monkeys.  The teachers have become the directors, the students have become the actors   and we’ve all become a little bit crazy with the excitement of this landmark event.  Both our Monday and Thursday groups have been busy rehearsing their stories and as a little preview, I’ll leave you with a few lines of dialogue from “Hot, Cold News” penned by Jackson and Lucy.

  Chico:  Did you see the news?
    Samantha:  It’s too hot to see the news.
    Chico:  Well anyways, there was this guy who was congo dancing with a platypus.

Oh.  Did I forget to mention that “Chico” is a meerkat and “Samantha” is a moose?



We the teachers of Loyola Park (Sarah, Tai, Michael, Maggie, Dixie, Lacy, Lauren, Jen and Joe) are thrilled to bring you the first ever B.O.M. Loyola Park After School Program Show written and performed entirely by the kids.  Hooray!




Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

Posted by Rachel on May 16, 2008

Company Members School Shows

Blog: So, Rachel, as the official Chalmers blogger, why have you been neglecting me?
Rachel: Well, because Lacy and Dixie pretty much covered it. They told you all about the Bollywood number, and the power outage, and the uniform debacle.
Blog: They didn’t tell me about one thing.
Rachel: What one thing?
Blog: Don’t pretend you don’t know.
Rachel: Oh, but that’s the dark side of the Chalmers show. Do we have to go there? 
Blog: It would be wrong not to.
Rachel: Fine, we’ll go . . .

The Chalmers show was the last*** school show performance for Jonathan Mastro and Eric Silverberg, and I cannot deal.


These guys have always been a bit ahead of me on the road—seniors when I was a freshman at Northwestern. Eric starred in the first show I saw at college. We all had the same acting teacher. I remember sitting in on their acting class and watching Jonathan rehearse a Pinter scene. Little did I know, within four years time I’d be watching Jonathan perform fourth grader David E.‘s story “Ordering Cars” in the same style.

These two witnessed my horribly awkward audition for the company. They were around for the Sorry Tournaments, and rehearsing at the dog kennel, and Thursday night karaoke at Carol’s. They remember when the Monkeys’ first collection of props got stolen because the company kept all its worldly possessions in a van—I wasn’t around for that, but they were. They did nearly every school show my first couple of years. Eric signed me up for my first Monkey teaching gig. Now he’s a full-time public school teacher. Jonathan’s been teaching at Chalmers for so long, and so well, that kids in the 8th grade swarmed him the second we walked on campus.

If Halena Kays is the Monkey Mama, these guys are the Daddies. They’ve stuck around, shaping the company since the very beginning. Now, they’re real daddies, which is at least part of the reason they’ve got to call it a day.

*** Instead of last, let’s say, “last for now,” because you never know where life’s going to take you, and because I’m certain we’ll all be doing Monkey shows together in our senile delusions when we’re 110, and because, as I said before, I can’t deal.

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Posted by Dixie on May 15, 2008

School Shows

Hey all- there’s been a lot said about the Chalmers show- which is fair because it was OFF THE CHAIN!  First- we didn’t have a lot of cars to get us to the show, so I had to fit all of our props, show curtains & the big keyboard into my station wagon.

Behold!  The wonder of the wagon! 


Seriously, it was full.  When we got to Chalmers there was a little scuffle because half of the class that we had taught weren’t allowed to come to the performance, because they were out of uniform.  We asked that they be allowed to come, and Principal Dossiea said only if they found some uniforms to put on.  All the girls scrambled to cobble together some regulation uniform, while Alexis explained to me that they all dressed in regular street clothes to protest the uniform policy.  “But we didn’t know that it was Monkey Day!!!”  Eventually they had on uniforms, and we started the show.  The performance was terrific, and the kids were a brilliant audience.  All was well until during the closing song, the keyboard cut out….  so did the lights.  There was a blackout across much of the south side!  We kept on singing a cappella, and the show was finished!
We returned the notebooks to the proud authors, and carefully headed home- with none of the local traffic lights working. 
I love the Chalmers School!

Saving the world isn’t free

Posted by Heidi on May 15, 2008

One of the questions we get a lot at the Monkey office is about how we can afford to work in Chicago’s most under-served communities without a lot of corporate sponsorship (nb: we don’t object to corporate sponsorship! If you work for a corporation that would like to sponsor us, feel free to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). Most of the schools we work with pay us a moderate fee, which typically covers about half the cost of bringing the program to that school. We also get money from ticket sales “That’s Weird, Grandma”.

We’re lucky to have some great foundations supporting us; their grants make up about 40% of our annual revenue. The rest of it comes from the support of individuals just like you. Yes, you.

We get individual support through donations at the end of “That’s Weird, Grandma”, from our annual Fancy Schmancy Benefit (October 19th, 2009), Monkey-o-kee…and once a year from an annual appeal to our family, friends, and fans.

If you’re on our mailing list, you probably got a letter or email this week asking you to make a donation. We hope you’ll consider it. No donation is too small (or too big!), and we could really use the support. We need to raise at least $20,000 by the middle of June so that we can wrap up this school year on a positive note and start hiring teachers for next year.

If you do decide to make a donation, we’ll feel about you the way 4th grader Tatianna felt about us after we taught in her class:


If you prefer to make an in-kind donation, I’ve included some options after the jump, as well as some examples of what your donations can help pay for. 

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