Thank you in advance for supporting the imaginations of children through a donation this #GivingTuesday, December 2! All amounts donated under the program are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law. As always, thank you for your support!
Who are Joanya and Sonya?
Sonya and Joanya are two characters that originated from a student-written story by Stephaun B. of the Loyola Park After-School Program entitled “Grannies Lean Like a Cholo” .
Sonya is a lifelong sports enthusiast and patron of the arts. She has held many roles in her life: Little League coach, small business owner, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, and part-time life coach. Her current interests include attending live theater, instant messaging, and going on adventures with her dearest friend in the world, Joanya.
Joanya Merman Nemoy
Actress Joanya Merman Nemoy starred in Golden Twilight Retirement Home productions like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and BUtterfield 8, but was just as famous for her violet eyes and scandalous love life. Born in Brooklyn on February 27, 1932, Joanya made her theatre debut in One Born Every Minute (Long Island Playhouse) and achieved stardom with National Velvet (Jersey Shore Rep).
“Wait a minute. Is this why this young and attractive camera crew is here? I get it now, we’re here to talk about a very specific way to participate in The Hashtag Giving Tuesday. We are giving to Barrel of Monkeys. I just figured it out!” - Joanya
Elizabeth Levy (Sonya)
Levy joined the ensemble in 2004 and was hired as Program Director in 2008. Before becoming Program Director, Levy was the Education Coordinator at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Levy graduated from The University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature. While at U of C, she ran several drama programs in neighborhood schools in Hyde Park. Elizabeth has performed locally with Steppenwolf Theatre, the House Theatre, Collaboraction, Strawdog and Dog and Pony.
Joseph Schupbach (Joanya)
Schupbach began his involvement with Barrel of Monkeys in 2005 and has served as After-School Program Coordinator and Education Coordinator for the past three years before being promoted to Artistic Director, the position he now holds. Schupbach has served as a professional teaching artist in Chicago for multiple organizations including Lookingglass Theatre and St. Clement School. He has directed shows for Barrel of Monkeys, North Park University, Murakami Sound Machine and InGen Productions – a company of which he is co-founder and Artistic Director. Joseph has assistant directed for The Ruffians and The Neo-Futurists and has performed all over Chicago.
Here at Barrel of Monkeys, we are so busy paging through all the incredible student stories from last year to bring to the That’s Weird, Grandma stage for your delight that we will not perform on Labor Day (Monday, September 2)!
We will have a new show with all kinds of new stories and old favorites for you on Monday, September 9.
All the magic Barrel of Monkeys brings to the stage begins with our teaching artists’ work with students in the classroom. Here’s a little snippet of what students and classroom teachers have to say about that experience:
“Barrel of Monkeys makes me feel like I could express myself in just a sheet of paper and I could let loose and it feels great, like magic out of thin air and magic pixie dust.” - 3rd grade student, LEARN Campbell Campus
“BOM was an excellent experience to improve writing skills, self expression and creativity. The more introverted students really came out of their shell and became more expressive.” - 5th grade teacher, Paderewski School
“The most important thing I learned is that anyone can be a writer.” - 3rd grade student, New Sullivan School
You can buy tickets here and we will always accept a tax-deductible donation to support the imaginations of children!
The fact that a day off from school actually feels like a break tells me we’re well into the school year. Normally, at this time on a Monday, I’d be at Loyola Park, helping the 9-10-year-olds in our after-school program create original superhero characters. And my first residency of the school year, Avondale, is already in its fifth week.
Last week was Dialogue Day, which means the kids get to suggest lots of characters for each other to play when they improvise scenes. Dialogue Day is easily my favorite lesson because it results in conversations like this one from Dewey last year:
ME: Would you rather play Invisible Girl or Nose-Picking Boy?
STUDENT: (after a looooong pause) They’re both good.
Yes, yes, they are both so good, but these are the decisions we have to make as artists.
Last week at Avondale, a girl wrote a dialogue between a girl and the monster who was about to eat her. She gave the girl a line that went something like this: “Wait, let me put on some makeup! A girl has to look her best before getting eaten.”
Who knows whether that gem will end up on stage? We’ll have to wait for November to find out for sure. It’s kind of beside the point, because kids in every single residency we teach write lines that goofy-delicious, and they make us, their teachers, laugh, and I think they have fun doing it whether or not they ever see those words performed on stage.