Category: Celebration of Authors

Posts about BOM's annual end of the school year celebration spectacular.

The Monkey Minute! Adventures in Group Song Writing

Posted by Amanda Farrar on May 14, 2015

The Monkey Minute Company Members Celebration of Authors School Shows School Residencies

As the end of the school year approaches, Barrel of Monkeys is hard at work in the rehearsal room adapting student-written work from our writing residencies for the stage to be performed for the student-authors and their peers in their schools! Emeritus Monkey and past Artistic Director Luke Hatton describes the fast and furious adaptation process and the joys of collaboration to adequately celebrate the voices of students on the stage.

Do you want to see some of the most exciting work from this year performed for the students, their families, and the public? Please join us for the FREE performance of Celebration of Authors on June 2 at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center! This show features one story from each of our residencies conducted during the 2014-15 school year performed by upwards of 30 Monkey actor/educators. Call 312-409-1954 for reservations.


Adventures in Group Song Writing
By Luke Hatton

The Barrel of Monkeys school show rehearsal process is always fast and furious. Every moment is valuable. On a particular day in the Winter of 2010 we were working on an upcoming performance at Columbia Explorer’s Academy. We were missing a few actors, so couldn’t productively review anything we’d already created and nothing that musicians had taken home to adapt was ready to stage. We were stuck.

Philip, one of our musicians, had taken some students’ poems home to adapt into a rap. He said it wasn’t finished. Desperate to use our valuable time productively, I said to him, “Would it be all right if we all work on the rap together?” Fortunately, he said yes. This is a hallmark of how Monkeys operate creatively. There’s rarely if ever ego involved. So Philip played us the instrumental of No Diggity which he was thinking would underscore the piece. People started bopping to the piece. We’d overcome our temporary inertia. Quickly I had everyone grab a partner and one of the pieces and for about 20 minutes the room was alive with pairs of Monkeys spitting mad beats, devising hilarious choreo. The final product was tremendous: total commitment and abandon to the pieces (reprinted below). Group song writing doesn’t always work, but thank god for the ‘yes and’ Spirit of the Monkey, because this time it worked gloriously.

Dixie Uffelman, Philip Markle, and Chris Matthews in Celebration of Authors

Puffins Muffins
By Alejandro I.

Oh baby oh baby
I’m talkin’ puffins you
fly like a kite up in
the sky you like
muffins when
your hand cuffin

By Joshua P.

Oh baby oh baby I’m
talking about Ms. Parise style yo.
I see you writing but you don’t see
me writing. When I see you you don’t
see me because I am under my desk looking
for sandwich extra beef don’t forget the tomato
I’m really hungry. I did eat but I want to eat again
my doctor said you got eat 10 meals day.

By Gustavo P. 

Oh baby oh baby I’m talking about
Skateboarding, at the skate park, you know
how I do it, it’s hard, but I know, I know
ollie, kickflip, 360, 180, 180 kickflip, you know
what I’m talking, oh baby, oh baby. Remix! yo!

Oh baby, Oh baby, I’m O.P.P., It stands for
other peoples’ plastic yo. You got to go
green don’t be a fool, don’t go cheesey afar

All about you
By Alfredo V. 

Oh baby, Oh baby I’m
thinking all about you
Oh, baby, oh, baby I’m
thinking all about you!
You hypnotize all about you!
I can’t stand all about you!
You should not leave me around
I will hunt you down. I will
search you down! I’m thinking all
about yooouuuuuuuuuuuuu!
Were the only one to kiss
would look!

Lollipop Chair
By Miriam H. 

Look at my candy.
“Oh no the bug eat it.
look at my candy again.
look how delicious is it
“ill the bug eat it again.
Pop the candy broke.
“Oh my god what am I going to do
Pop the candy broke again.

The Monkey Minute!

Posted by Amanda Farrar on April 29, 2015

The Monkey Minute That's Weird Grandma Company Members Celebration of Authors School Shows School Residencies

Barrel of Monkeys teaches creative writing residencies in Chicago Public Schools to third through fifth grade students. During our time with students, the team of five teaching artists create a safe and supportive space for students to express themselves. Company member Marika Mashburn tells us about some of the more heart-wrenchingly beautiful stories written by our student-authors and adapted for the stage by Barrel of Monkeys.

Be radically kind to one another, Monkey friends! We’ll see you at our performances this summer beginning Monday, June 8.


5 Beautiful Stories from the Hearts of Children
By Marika Mashburn

You might think that a theatre company who adapts stories about Monsters, Aliens and Dinosaurs only has a bunch of weird and happy stories in its wheelhouse.  But here at Barrel of Monkeys, our teaching artists encourage Chicago Public School scholars to write whatever they wish – no judgments on the subject or theme.  Sometimes, those beautiful stories will truly break your heart.  Here are five stories about heartbreak and loss, written by Chicago Public School students, that we have adapted for the stage.

Company Members perform

Two Friends
By Ashley F., Garfield Park After School Program

Once upon a time there was a T-Rex named Corey.  Everyday he went to his job where he ate cars.  He ate trucks, long trucks with lots of metal.  One day he saw a rat that was 10 inches.  He screamed, “Mommy!”
T-Rex: Mommy!
Rat: You don’t have to be afraid of me.
T-Rex: But I am.
Rat: (starts crying…cries real hard.  Hard enough to make a big puddle)
T-Rex: I’m sorry.
Rat: You hurt my feelings.
T-Rex: You want to play with me and have fun together?
Rat: Yes.
T-Rex: Do you want to be my friend?
Rat: Yes I will like to be your friend.
T-Rex: Friends forever and ever.
They play by the pad together.  Then he said “We’re going to do everything together forever.”  The next day Corey the T-Rex had to go to work then he went to rats house and said, “Do you want t come with me to work?” “Yes I like that.”
T-Rex: Boss I found someone to be the clean up boy.
Rat: I’m going to be a clean up boy.
T-Rex: Yes you are.
Rat: started crying, cause he was happy.
One day the rat is taking out all of the metal.  Then people circle around him.  They kick him, they punch him so hard that he died.  The T-Rex came he started crying and running.  I’m sorry I let that happen but the rat was dead.

This wonderful narrative/dialogue was performed in our Barrel of Monkeys 5th Anniversary Season Special.  It made our audiences laugh and cry. 

My Dreams of My Dad Visiting Me
By Rachel D., Graham Elementary School

Every Dream I have my dad appears he started to appear after 12:00 three days after he died and he appears and we always start off dancing and he sings a song about loving me he always tries to remind me but when he goes to say I love you I had to wake up at 6:30 and get ready for the day and I always think about it and last Sunday he got to tell me everything like I love you, your safe, don’t cry, will see each other again, and we remember each other using are hearts, that’s what my dreams are.  The End.

This personal narrative was staged simply and sweetly, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we performed it for Celebration of Authors

Untitled by Rene, Avondale-Logandale Elementary School

Once upon a time there was a very sad microwave oven because they did not use it to heat up food.  It always cried every night because they did not use it and it wanted to leave from the house and leave to other things and following day they were going to use for the first time but it (the microwave) wasn’t there and they looked for it and called the police and put papers (flyers) saying looking for a microwave oven and at last / finally they found it in a house.  The End.

Nobody likes to feel underutilized, and we turned this cautionary tale into a jazzy number that was a huge hit. 

The Tiny Door in the Back of My Closet
By Tyler W., Cleveland School

I had never noticed the tiny door in the back of my closet before. I opened and saw a friendly monster that was scared of me. Then in a few more weeks and he knew me well and we started to play in my room. Then my mom came in and the monster had to hide. Then my mom said that I had to clean my room then my mom closed the door. After that the monster came out and help me clean my room and we finished the room quickly then we played some more and then the monster fainted. Then he got up in an hour. Then he died.

Every kid needs a best friend they can count on, and losing that best friend can sometimes make you feel happy and sad, all at the same time.  We explored having all of the feelings when we adapted this story for the stage. 

Eunice Woods performs

My Streets is Always Quiet

By Takayla N., New Sullivan Elementary School

I believe that I want my streets to be quiet and peaceful.  And I don’t want no fighting or gun shots.  If my street was peaceful, me and my friends could play outside and play jump rope.  If my street was quiet and peaceful I would be less bored because I could go outside instead of having to stay inside.  If there were no arguments on my street I could say hello to my neighbors, I could hang out, and then go back outside and have fun.  That is why I believe my street should be quiet and peaceful.  The End.

This lovely argument was turned into a beautiful song, and has been featured recently in That’s Weird, Grandma.


Celebration of Authors 2013 Stories Announced

Posted by Joe on May 31, 2013

Celebration of Authors



June 11th, 2013 / 11 de junio, 2013
6:30 PM Reception and Activities / fiesta y actividades para los niños
7:30 PM Showtime / el espectáculo
University of Chicago: Logan Center for the Arts
915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637

Admission is free!
¡Costo: Gratis!

Call For Reservations! 312-409-1954

The show with feature the following stories:

THE FLOWERS AND THE “OCEANO” by Diana Elies, from Avondale-Logandale School

THE GHOST OF THE OLD TIME COUNTRY by Devion Pettis and Darrin Jones, from Chalmers Specialty Elementary School

MY BIRTHDAY PARTYby Graciela Vasquez, from Columbia Explorers Academy

CANDY MAN by Temo Almanza, from Dawes Elementary School

BUBBLES DIALOGUE by Sarronda Leachman, Jaleesa Ward, and Anaya Green, from Dewey Elementary Academy of Fine Arts

WANTING MEATLOAF by Montez Phillips, Jayzoun Neal, James McChristine, Emmanuel Lofton, Kristyle Young, Reyna Johnson, and Fayome Minett, from Dixon Elementary School

MYSTIC FACE by Kristian Whitfield, from LEARN Campbell Campus Elementary School

CHICKEN!!! by Danielle Sachez, Leo Berg, Maggie Job, and Shantelle Gallimore, from Lincolnwood Elementary School

JOHN CENA MAKES BREAD by Ivan Montes, from Lorca Elementary School

MY SONG by Nia Horvath, from Loyola Park After-school Program


TACO VS SQUASH by Jose Perez, Jared Nieves, Jeremiah Paez, Matthew Hill, and Kymira Stockstill, from Marquette School of Excellence

EL VIAJE A MEXICO by Rudy Martinez, from Marquette School of Excellence

HOMELESS by Antonio Robinson, from Morton School of Excellence

RAP ARGUMENT by Marquez Sims, from Morton School of Excellence

ALIENS ON THE MOON STORY by D’Angelo Jenkins,from New Sullivan Elementary School

THE ZOO by Nakevia Murray,from Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy

SABRINA STAR by Annika Ludwig, from Teaching Lab Collaborations After-school Program

THE STORY OF THE SMART PRETTY SKUNKS by Lanesha Robinson, Daisha Scott, and Shari Silas, from Willa Cather Elementary School & Super 7 After-school Program

Get your Tickets Today!

It’s Magic!

Posted by Joe on June 18, 2012

Touring Performances Company Members Celebration of Authors

It’s Magic!

Celebration 2012 was pure magic!


Thank you to all who came out and supported our authors!

And a very special thank you to the Spencer Foundation for sponsoring the event!

Special THANK YOU to the following people and organizations:

Adventure Stage Chicago staff, Chad Kenward, Marla Caceres, Dan Lange, Erick Deshaun Dorris, Erica Halverson, Nancy Casas, Emilio Williams, Aimee Bass, Del Sato, Steve Sato, Kyle Hamman, Tim Soszko, Chris Matthews, Tai Palmgren, Hannah Schupbach, Chicago Public Schools, Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), Mary Hopkins and the staff at Loyola Park, Carla Mayer and Nikki Jolly at Chicago Park District, Communities in Schools of Chicago, the Neo-Futurists.

and, most importantly, all of our fabulous authors and their families!

Be sure to check out the incredible pictures of the dress rehearsal, show, and cookies and juice reception.  Everybody who is anybody was eating cookies and juice.

Also take a peek at the fancy COA authors’ photo booth.

What a magical way to celebrate the 11-12 school year!

Don’t forget to come see That’s Weird, Grandma (featuring all COA 2012 stories)


That’s Weird, Abuelita

Monkey On!

The Celebration has already begun!

Posted by Maggie on June 3, 2012

Celebration of Authors

Ladies and Gentlemen -

I had the great honor of watching the first run through of Celebration of Authors 2012 and let me tell you the celebrating has begun.  It is an incredible gift that our task is to make these thirty stories come to life using our love, energy and just a few silly hats.  The actors work so hard and yet make it seem like it is just playing a great game of make believe.

Here’s a sneak peak at what’s in store for our audience on Tuesday.  Find out more info about Celebration of Authors HERE!

Cinnamon Rolls!!!
Zebras on the CTA?!
100 CATS!
New Ensemble Member, Nick, taking the reigns
Just one of our FOUR Michael Jackson visits!
Monsters and Robots taking over the world!
Why does this monster hate teddy bears so much?
And of course our amazing graphic designer as a rubix cube

Okay, back to making more cat ears!

See you all on Tuesday to celebrate our authors and their amazing imaginations.