Category: Company Members

Posts about specific BOM company members.

That’s Weird, Grandma continues its summer run with a brand new cast!

Posted by Joe on July 16, 2015

That's Weird Grandma TWG Weekly Update Company Members

I am so excited to share with you the incredible cast that is coming together for this next batch of Monday night shows!

twg summer

The cast will include: Michelle Alba, Nick Hart, Shá Norman, Zoe Schwartz, Tim Soszko, Brad Stevens, and Gwen Tulin!

This crew of all-star monkey performers will bring you the following sketches and songs:

A MOST BORING BUS THAT IS FILLED WITH SNAKES by Maximo R., Loyola Park After-School Program
CRAZY LADY by Eukyirah W., Morton School of Excellence
DRAGON CITY by Lunaire F., Poe Classical School
UNTITLED (UNICORN LETTERS) by Daisy J., Columbia Explorers Academy
THE AMAZING ZURINE by Bella D., Loyola Park After School Program
UNTITLED (VOLCANO HOUSE) By John M., Loyola Park After School Program
SUPER SINGER By Jamesha H., Chalmers School of Excellence
CRAZY TOPIC by Leandro Z., Loyola Park After-School Program
THE LONG DAY by Darryl M., Dewey School of Excellence
UNTITLED (NIKI MINAJ SHOW) by Kinnaria D., Super 7 Program at Cather Elementary School
THE CRAZY WAFFLE by Trenyce G., Dixon School
THE SAD PIZZA by Matthew G., Poe Classical School
UNTITLED (HORSEWOLF) by Tamarra M., Dewey School of Excellence
OG GRANNY MAD by Rayana E., Morton School of Excellence.
PLANET DARTRUDA by PLANET DARTRUDA by Jacari R., Taniya J., Nakiya B., Super 7 Program at Cather Elementary School
THE SCARY MYSTERY by Tanaia L., Lorca Elementary School

Say “I’m going to make a short story into a long story.” at the box office for discounted tickets!

See you at the show!

Join us in saying “so long” (for now) to Donnell Williams!

Posted by Joe on July 12, 2015

That's Weird Grandma TWG Weekly Update Company Members

This Monday: join us in saying so long (for now) to Donnell Williams!

Our beloved Donny is moving to the west coast!  Join us on Monday night at That’s Weird, Grandma to celebrate, laugh, and cry!

There are special Donny stories being added to the runlist and maybe even some special guests!

Say “Beyonce, we are leaving” at the box office to receive discounted tickets!

See you at the show (with a teardrop in my eye)

Monkey Minute: From Page to Stage in 18 Hours or Less

Posted by Joe on July 6, 2015

The Monkey Minute Company Members School Shows

Here is another Monkey Minute from super director Meredith!


A Day in the Life: From Page to Stage in 18 Hours or Less
Meredith Milliron

As we arrive at Loyola Park for the first rehearsal, excitement is in the air.  Monkey after monkey arrives in the space as well as a director, we set up the keyboard and, wham!, it’s time to get started. 

We sit in a circle and introduce ourselves to everyone. Then we hear from the teachers. They tell us a little bit about the students and the school. 

Then we dig into the journals.  Each monkey takes a turn reading a story or two from each child.  We then warm up by stretching and playing theater games.  Once we are warm, we divide into groups and grab whatever story inspired someone. Maybe it was a setting, a character, a mood, or they wanted to turn it into a rap…  we listen to their idea and then we discuss and improvise our way through the story.  We run it a couple of times to get down our lines and actions, and then we present it to the director and the larger group.  They help us to solidify our ideas and make it look good on the stage.  We then talk to the manager about what props we need to make, buy or borrow.  Perhaps we need a shark hat or a giant whale?  We might have one in storage or we might have an awesome person in the cast who wants to make it for the show.

We do this again and again until we have 20 stories for the show!

Songs take a longer time to work through, so we normally give that an entire three hour rehearsal.  Normally we have two big songs per show and the closing number which is written by a monkey and performed at each show all year.  The person who wrote the song normally plays it for the group, then we learn it, record it, and put it up on stage.  Sometimes we have a choreographer that teaches us some awesome moves, and sometimes we work as a group to come up with them. We listen to the recording for the rest of the week to memorize it before our performance.

The dress rehearsal is the last night before the show.  We make sure we have all the costumes and props we need for each story.  We run through each song and dance and complicated story before the run, and then we do the entire show for a small audience of other monkeys and friends.  The director takes notes, and we listen to them before we head home that night.

We pack up everything after the dress rehearsal.  Then we meet for breakfast before the show.  We like to meet in the neighborhood of the school.  It’s a good time to go over lines with other monkeys, review our run list and ask any questions and get a good breakfast!

Then we get to the school, set up the stage, run a top and bottoms (which means we start and end each sketch really fast).  We normally run the songs, so we can set the sound levels in the space and practice any dancing.  Then the children arrive and we start the show!

From Page to Stage in 18 hours! 

The End

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! Happy Mother’s Day

Posted by Amanda Farrar on May 7, 2015

The Monkey Minute That's Weird Grandma Company Members School Residencies

Barrel of Monkeys teaches writing residencies to students, but more often than naught it’s us who are receiving the education. There are many lessons to learn from the pens of elementary school students, and below are some that I, Amanda Farrar, have learned about what it is to be a mother.

Do you want to learn about our programs and learn from students, too? Watch this news story from CBS Chicago that aired last week and then peruse our story archives for more immersion into the wonderful imaginations of children.

Reminder: We are on a hiatus from That’s Weird, Grandma but summer Monday night performances start again on June 8!
5 Motherhood Lessons
By Amanda Farrar

Lesson #1: The first lesson I learned about being a mom from student-authors is from “Bagels or Nothing”. “I want a SNAAACCCKKKK!” is a constant plea in my household. I took this lesson from Toby R.’s mother, and offer one snack of my choice, or nothing. Sometime my daughter picks nothing. Sometimes she eats the thing I’ve offered. But the negotiation tactic totally works. Thanks, Toby and Toby’s mom!

Untitled (Bagels or Nothing)
By Toby R, Dawes Elementary

My mom said I had to pick nothing or bagels I pickt nothing. I don’t like bagels.

Lesson #2: Mothers, like everyone, are not infallible. Our bad and sad days are their bad and sad days, too.

Good Days and Bad Days
By Joemy P., Johnson School of Excellence

I believe I want to change bad days to good days sad days to happy days far days to close days scared days to brave days.  So people won’t be mad or people won’t be bad.  So people can have good day.  I wish my mom would have better days.  THen bad days she can have lovely days.  Some people are not equal.  So are not happy.  SO that I don’t have to be scared.  Why I believe in miracles.  The End

Lesson #3: If it comes down to it, your mom will kick butt. Even to battle a celebrity-monster/monster-celebrity.

Untitled (Beach)
By Lynda H., 4th Grade, Chalmers School of Excellence

On a hot sunny day I went to the beach with my mom. At the beach it was all super stars and the stars didn’t talk to me, so I went up to Hannah Montana and I said “hi” and she said the same, but that wasn’t really Hannah Montana it was a monster. I knew it was a monster because he pulled of his wig and mask. So he pick me up and I call my mom then she came to kick his butt and after that we went home and I tell my sister and brother all about it. The name of the stars was Lil Wayne, Justin Beiber, Sonny With a Chance and Chris Brown.

The maid and mom in

Lesson #4: How hard you work to get it all done? Yeah. They get it. Probably more than you realize.

The Darkness
By Taniya J., Willa Cather Elementary School

Once upon a time there was a lady who was by herself and she was just looking around and she was on the bridge. She wanted to swim home in the water but she had on her work clothes so she couldn’t because she had to go to work in the morning and the whole family was going out and there was nobody to watch her kids so her kids were about to go with their dad but he had work in the morning too and then her kids start crying so then she said to herself I need to swim home but I got on my work clothes and I got work in the morning and the clouds were dark and scary and she saw a scary mountains then she saw her husband and her kids and then her whole family came and saved her and she hopped in the car and went home. THE END.

Lesson #5: By doing you what you do as a parent for your child, you can be their superhero.

Superhero Story (my mom)
By Destiny C., 4th Grade, Chalmers School of Excellence

My Super hero is my Mom. Her powers are too take care of me and her 2 other kids. What happen was she took care of me as I grew up. It’s my point of view because I’m telling people who is my hero and superhero because she’s a nice mom who do things for me like put clothes on my back, and she’s a person who have strong powers by doing stuff like getting me up in the morning, taking me to fun place, and most of all trying to help me get an education.

Thank you for all the lessons, student-authors. And thank you to all the moms, and dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, foster parents…anyone who helps raise a young person.