Monkeying Around with Caleb Probst

Posted by Tom on July 9, 2018

That's Weird Grandma

Caleb Probst has been in Barrel of Monkeys for more than 10 years.  He and his family will be moving to Madison, Wisconsin by the end of summer.  Here’s some insight into the inner workings of Caleb!

Caleb rehearsing at the Neo-Futurists Theater

How did you discover BOM?
A friend of mine took me to see That’s Weird, Grandma shortly after I’d moved to Chicago.  She described it as, “I’m not really sure how it works, but kids in CPS write stories, and actors perform them.  It’s like Saturday Night Live, kinda.”  Sounded cool.  While watching the show, I realized that this was actually the reason I’d moved to Chicago. 

When I got home I did some internetting to find out how to join, only to discover that I’d missed the auditions by about a week.  Then, the next year, there weren’t auditions.  Fast forward another six months, Tim Soszko and I were teaching together and he was wearing a Monkey shirt and I asked him if he had any advice on how to join the company.  He told me that I should ask about volunteer teaching, and I did.  The rest is history.

What were some of your feelings when you auditioned and made it in?
I wasn’t really sure what to do for my audition, so I did a monologue from Amadeus and played the piano.  I remember sitting outside the room and hearing lots of auditions that were NOT monologues, and were really making people laugh, and I thought, “I’ve made a terrible decision.” 

Once I was in, I remember being in the rehearsal room for the first time and thinking, “I am sooo not good at this.  These people are really talented and really funny, and I mostly do Shakespeare tragedies.”  It took a long time before I really felt like I belonged in the room, and sometimes I still feel like the classical-actor guy who doesn’t really know what he’s doing.

Tell us three memorable BOM stories that you’re proud of being a part of. 
1. “Crazy Monkey” by Tyler B. from LP [Loyola Park After School Program], which is in Grandmaright now.

2. “Veronica the Vegan Vampire” from Lorca [Elementary].  I didn’t actually adapt this, but I taught the author.  During the residency, she asked me what “vegan” meant, and I explained it was someone who didn’t eat, drink, or wear anything from an animal.  Then she asked, “So is a vegan vampire a vampire who doesn’t drink blood?”  I said, “I guess so,” and she said, “Go away, I know how to write this story.”

3. Every persuasive argument about ending violence.  Sadly, we read them every year, but I’m honored to have worked with this group of humans who respect the depth and gravity of a child’s writing as much as the humor and absurdity.

Rawson Vint and Caleb rehearsing for “Ninja Lovers” by De’marea from Dewey School of Excellence
Three things you’re going to miss about Chicago.
1. Templestowe Pub

2. Horner Park Farmers’ Market

3. Barrel of Monkeys

Three things you can’t wait to explore/discover in Madison, Wisconsin.
1. Tip Top Tavern

2. Dane County Farmers’ Market

3. Whoopensocker [a theatre program run by Barrel of Monkeys co-founder Erica Halverson]
(What can I say, I’m a creature of habit . . .)

Two things you learned about yourself being a teacher for Loyola Park After School Program?
I learned that I actually love teaching more than performing. And, now as a parent of toddlers, I’m beginning to see how things I learned while teaching have prepared me for parenting. 

Catch Caleb in our final two performances of That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories. We perform tonight and next Monday, July 16th at 8:00 p.m - we can’t wait to see you there!

Caleb donning appropriate swimwear for “Pizza People” by Amelia, Bella, Drew, and Keeling from Cherokee Elementary.

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