Category: School Shows

Posts relating to school shows.

Make New Friends

Posted by Rachel on February 26, 2016

School Shows After School Program

One of my favorite things about school shows is working with old friends, like Geoff Rice and Sarah Goeden, whom I’ve known since college in 19-hmm-hmm-hmm. The current Loyola Park show features them along with four amazing friends of Barrel of Monkeys, current volunteer teachers, Katrina Dion and Sarah Sterling, and former volunteers, Patrick Poulin and Michael Whitten.


They are all nailing it.

And so are the Monkey veterans. The whole world deserves to see Sarah Goeden singing Kiran P.‘s “The Day the Family Pets Died” as a series of ukulele-backed, Gorey-esque cautionary tales.

And Geoff Rice has adapted Xitlaly G.‘s modern myth, “The Mountain Top,” into an epic ballad. Kassi Bleifuss plays Ocean, the girl who cries blood when her boyfriend Blue breaks up with her. Patrick will be playing that conflicted jerk, and both of them will be supported by some brazilliant blood puppets. Yes, I said blood puppets. 

Over the river and through the woods

Posted by Bryan on January 15, 2016

School Shows

As BOM teachers, we are often taken on spectacular journeys to faraway fantasy lands through the stories that our students write. This past fall, however, we were taken on a literal journey outside our typical stomping grounds of our beloved CPS school districts.
Minecraft interstate road travel
The road was a figurative minecraft—er, um, minefield of literal snow drifts, for November snowfall had collected from the previous days. Well, to say it was a minefield might be stretching the truth… In actuality, our teams of Monkeys traveled with no trouble and arrived safely and warmly at the wonderful Hough Street Elementary School, in the beautiful, historic Village of Barrington! The Barrel of Monkeys were guests in ten classrooms that day, and in each of them, we were completely floored by the amount of enthusiasm and imagination among the students!
I’ve had the distinct pleasure of going on this journey into the Hough classrooms and all the way back to BOM headquarters, the new stories, like precious gems, safely in hand—some of them…

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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

It’s our first school show!

Posted by hpalmer on May 24, 2015

School Shows

Hey there, everyone! James and I (Hailey) are doing our first Barrel of Monkeys school show! We’ve been having a lot of fun in rehearsals, learning about how the Monkeys adapt stories from journals into an entire production in just a handful of rehearsals. In the Dixon show, James is playing everything from a plotting caterpillar to Dave Parker, a man who resorts to eating his own clothes. I get to play a daughter who swaps bodies with her dad (pictured below), the side an epic mountain, and a lot of other things that I can’t wait to show the students.

James and I sat down and had a real conversation about our experience as noobs in a Monkey show. Here are some things we learned about each other:

1. We were both new Monkey teachers at Dixon during our residency there this spring. We both found the experience really inspirational.

2. Both of us learned a lot from the Monkey agreements that we talk about with the students everyday, specifically every idea is a good idea and respect yourself and others. We talked about how applying those agreements in our own lives helps us live more positively and openly.

3. James mentioned how much he appreciated how there has been no ego involved in the rehearsal process. I totally agreed.

4. I mentioned how I found rehearsals to be uplifting. James agreed. We talked about the importance of play and honoring what the student authors write.

5. James’ favorite word is histrionics. Mine is ghoul. We liked learning this about each other too.

Rehearsals have flown by and we’re pumped to be in our first Monkey show on Tuesday morning!

Dixon rehearsal

North Lawndale, or “Teamwork makes the Dream Work!”

Posted by Bryan on May 15, 2015

School Shows

Hi, internet! This is your good friend Bryan letting you know all is well—nay, FANTASTIC—with the North Lawndale school show adapting process. And I’ll have you know that it’s especially thrilling for me to be in on this collection of stories, having been one of the teachers at one of the school involved. Yes, having just finished our in-the-classroom workshop residency at Chalmers School of Excellence, Monkey Courtney and I are lucky in that we get to jump right into the making of our students’ freshly-writ stories into plays.

In fact, this school show is unique in that it teams-up four amazing schools, all in the North Lawndale area and each with their own residencies, into one big show. Chalmers School of Excellence, Dvorak School of Excellence, Herzl School of Excellence, and Johnson School of Excellence are all on the roster of this Avengers-level superhero troop, and I’m glad I get to be a part of this display of community.
superhero team silhouette
Here’s a moment in rehearsal where monkeys Ashley, Elisa, Evie, and Geoff are a group of friends jamming out to their boombox, but I feel like they could easily be a quartet of supe’s warming up to battle some evil foe.
line of groovers
**Note to self: Explore a writing activity where we act out a story from a picture (a la Picture Day), take a snapshot of the acting, then write a totally new story based off of the snapshot. Lather, Rinse, Repeat until infinity!

Now that I think of it, the world could use a superhero team like that, with the energy, talent and creativity of all of our student writers, to overcome a fearsome cataclysmic event like the one depicted in one of our stories we’ll perform in the show, which I leave you with now:

The Ancient Attack
by Justin S., Johnson School of Excellence

Day 13 12:30pm April 15th. One night a war started. The dead dinosaurs came back alive. Every civilan in U.S.A. moved to other places. Cops soldiers and vehicles blocked the bridges to U.S.A.

Day 40 9:50am December 4093. Dead bodies and dead dinosaurs were everywhere
Eagle Wing 3: I just found 10 pterodactyls
Eagle Wing 2: Captain I’m going down. A dinosaur is inside my osprey!
Warthog 6: Our vehicles are destroyed but they have now turned into barriers when the T Rex stepped on them. Oh no we’re under attack run run run!!!

To be continued