We’re wrapping up the final production of our 2018-19 season, That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food, this Monday night at The Neo-Futurists Theater - and it’s your last chance to catch a BOM show ‘til October. We’re taking a short hiatus to prep for our next year of teaching creative writing in Chicago elementary schools, and adapting new stories to eventually share with you!
Sadly, this Monday night is the last time you’ll see Zoe Schwartz in That’s Weird, Grandma for awhile. She’ll be moving to Los Angeles within the next two months and heading onto a new adventure. We asked her some questions about the most memorable parts of her eight years as a BOM company member.
What’s a BOM teaching memory that you enjoyed?
One time at Logandale- Avondale, our teaching team approached the school in our BOM shirts and all the kids in the playground went wild like we were mega celebrities. They started screaming and ran to the fence to try to touch our hands. It was pretty special.
What’s a BOM adaptation that you treasure?
So, so many - but if I had to pick ONE it would be “Sad Butterflies at The Wedding,” which was from my first school show and was the first time I was like, “Oh yeah I should be doing this forever.”
Three things you’ll miss about Chicago.
My friends and family
Monday nights at TWG!
Three things you’re so looking forward to in L.A.
Fame and Fortune! JK maybe all the succulents.
What’s a story that’s in TWG now that you’re thrilled to be a part of?
“Nacho At Work” (pictured below).
We don’t want the final blog post of the 2018-19 season to be entirely sad, though! So with food on our minds, we gave the cast and crew a silly task - telling us their favorite (and least favorite) foods. How do you compare?
Cedar likes potatoes, not raw mushrooms. Joe likes corn, not tomatoes. Nancy likes tacos, not pizza puffs. Deanna likes potatoes. Laura likes tacos al carbon, not licorice. Mary Winn likes peaches, not dill. Mari likes tacos de carne esada, not liver. Raquel likes sweet potato fries, not olives. Nick likes shrimp, not brussels sprouts. Rawson likes protein, not spamone. Zoe likes hot dogs, not mustard. Jen likes pizza, not salmon. Jean likes rice and beans, not artichokes. Noah likes Jet Puff marshmallows, not Natto (fermented soybeans). Diana likes cornbread, not eggplant. Tom likes sushi, not liver. Ida doesn’t like stale potato chips.
Many Barrel of Monkeys students enjoy imagining what their food thinks. Their stories explore questions such as, “what emotions does a pizza feel?”, “would chicken sandwiches eat humans if they could?”, and “can pies be cannibalistic?”
In That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food, BOM performers take some of these food-related musings and bring them to life through short sketch pieces. Here are three of our favorites that you’ll see in Monday night’s show!
In this touching piece about a pizza who lives in China, Matthew shows us that family reunions aren’t just for humans. This pizza’s family lives in Texas, so he doesn’t see them very often - and he misses them so much that he can’t help but drown his sorrows in ice cream, all while Celine Dion plays in the background.
Once there was a pizza he was very sad because his family lived in Texas. He lived in China. But he visited them. But he can’t. Pizza was so sad he cried. He only eat his favorite snack ice cream Then he went to sleep. When he wake up he went in the kitchen and saw his family. He was just imagining it. And that was so sad he cried even more. He watched TV all day. He was the saddest pizza in the world. Then not was just a dream. His mom hugged him. He was so happy. THE END.
2. “KFP” by Jacob R., Almani C., Kemani B., Gabrielle S., Monica J., Jala B., and Lashay E. from Dixon Elementary School
Some foods become fed up with constantly being eaten by humans, including Fred, the chicken sandwich in this story. He starts his own offshoot of KFC called KFP - Kentucky Fried People - and his musical talents let him get away with this gruesome entrepreneurial pursuit.
It was a sunny day in Hawaii. Fred, the chicken sadnwich, was opening up KFP (Kentucky Fried People). On the roof was a blow-up chicken that was orange and holding a human heart. Shrimp, the dancing cucumber, went into the kitchen and saw Fred cutting up the food. But the food wasn’t chicken, it was people. She called the police (Devie & Stewie, who weren’t very smart) and when they came, Shrimp starting singing the KFP song. KENTUCKY FRIED PEOPLE, IS PEOPLE NOT CHICKEN *COME ON* The police started dancing. So they didn’t arrest Fred (Who just made his hit single that made $1000, and the album cover had a chicken sandwich with a human in his hand) Instead, Shrimp solved it by eating Fred. Shrimp says, “Sandwish. sw. sw.” THE END.
How would a pie feel if it was forced to eat other pies? Christopher H., another one of our students from Poe Classical School, explores this conundrum in his dialogue between Pieman and pie factory owner, Bob. Bob doesn’t like pie himself - but he does enjoy seeing pies’ reactions to eating their own kind in this macabre tale.
PM:(walk into pie factory) What is all this!?!?
B: It is a Pie factory.
PM: Ahhh. I’m a pie!
B: Not any more (picks up Pie Man)
B: Yesssss. You will have to eat a pie.
PM: Wait you’re not going to eat me?
B: Why would I. I hate pies.
PM: Oh. No…now I will become a cannibal.
B: That is how I torture pies.
Explore the trials and tribulations of these and other food-inspired characters during Monday night’s show at the Neo-Futurists Theater. Avoid the line at the box office and grab your tickets ahead of time here!
Barrel of Monkeys spends one day of each creative writing residency teaching students to write persuasive arguments. Students choose something they’re either for or against, and then they identify three compelling reasons to support that position.
1. “I Believe That Everything Should be Chocolate” by Luis M., Seward School
Like many of us, Luis loves chocolate - and they’re adamant that everything from your house to your homework should be made of it. Barrel of Monkeys company member Laura McKenzie adapted this song into a soulful musical number, capturing just how amazing a world filled with chocolate would be.
I believe that everything needs to be chocolate. My first reason is that you need to have chocolate because you could eat your house. My second reason is that you could eat everything instead of buying it. My final reason is that you could eat you homework and your teacher wouldn’t know what color is your paper. That is why you need to have chocolate.
We all have a favorite local restaurant, and Jamari’s is Buffalo Joe’s. They argue that feeding kids more Buffalo Joe’s barbecue wings and seasoned fries will help them do their homework and chores - even if it turns them into barbecue-addicted, zombie-like people.
I believe people should buy more buffalo joe’s to eat so they can have more juicy (drewling)
Delicious bbq chicken and seasoned fries and when they get their juicy (drewling) delicious buffalo joe’s they can just give it to their kids, then the kids can go to their room and watch tv or play video games and then when their done they can go ask their parents to buy some more juicy (drewling) delicious buffalo joe’s. And when they get they are going to get good grades, behave, cut the grass, and wash the dishes, and also wash their laundry. And then they will freak out. And they will freak out because they’ll get more buffalo joe’s then they’ll had more then they had before. THE END.
Not all of our students argue for more of a specific type of food. In fact, some argue that we should avoid a certain dish.
For example, Samuel at Harold Washington Elementary wrote a persuasive argument condemning chitterlings. We adapted his disgust for pig intestines - and all pork save for pepperoni - into a slow, rolling song that’s a That’s Weird, Grandma audience favorite.
I believe nobody should not eat chitterlings. 1st because, they’re yucky pig intestines. 2nd because, it is where the poop goes. 3rd because, they eat mud. 4th because, they are pork and I can’t eat pork, except for pepperoni.
See our adaptations of these pieces, as well as other food-related stories by Chicago elementary school students, at our next performance of That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food on Monday night. The fun starts at 8, and we can’t wait to share this batch of sketches and songs with you!
Tonight’s the press opening for That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food - so we sat down with the show’s director, Joseph Schupbach (a former artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys) to learn more about the show, the stories he’s excited to share with Chicago theatre audiences, and of course, his favorite foods.
Join us for a delicious lineup of sketches and songs - all adapted from pieces written by Chicago elementary school students - at the Neo-Futurists Theater. The show starts at 8, and you can grab your tickets here. We can’t wait to see you!
Tonight is the first performance of That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food. Not only is it an exciting show because of all the food-themed stories written by Chicago elementary school students, but also, there’s an incredible mix of Barrel of Monkeys company members old and new in the production.
I sat down with one of the newest company members in the show, Noah Appelbaum, to learn more about his summer performing in That’s Weird, Grandma.
How did you discover Barrel of Monkeys?
I had a good friend who was a company member for several years, and it always sounded really exciting whenever she talked about it! Then I became a company member - and she ran away to go to grad school.
Can you describe a memorable experience (or two) you had teaching this year?
Teaching was so fun, and the students I had this year seemed really excited to write and tell their stories. I always really like when kids who tend to be quieter or less participatory in the classroom want to read their stories aloud because they feel proud of their work.
On True Story Day, I got to have a group of fifth-grade reenactors perform the tale of how I broke my arm. They were very thorough and accurate.
What are two stories you’re proud of adapting?
I really enjoyed adapting “The Girl Named Moisture” from Poe Classical School. I was so happy with all of the details the author wrote into the story that we got to include. I got to play a futuristic girl, named Chicken Flavored Seasoning Packet, trying to make friends in the year 9073. Can you ask for anything more?
I was also graced with the opportunity to turn Jordan’s tale from the Poe School’s epic Potato Chip God into a song (featured in That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food!) This story of trying to painstakingly summon The Potato Chip God through feats of strength just seemed really metal to me, so I turned it into a metal song.
Performing it always feels really magical to me, because while I’m playing my guitar and screaming, everyone on stage is so committed. When the Potato Chop God finally shows up, it feels like all of my dreams are coming true.
Noah and fellow Barrel of Monkeys company members performing in the Poe Classical School show.
How did teaching and performing in Chicago’s schools help you get ready for performing in That’s Weird, Grandma?
Teaching and performing at the schools is obviously what it’s all about. You can’t beat the opportunity to perform these stories for the authors and their communities, because nobody else can appreciate them in quite the same way. That said, That’s Weird, Grandma is so much fun, and I love getting to share what I’ve spent all year doing in schools and also getting to share these awesome stories our students wrote with the general public!
Name two things you love about Chicago.
Lots of really good and weird art gets made so constantly here!
[Also], the city is so big and comprises so many diverse neighborhoods and communities! I often forget how much of Chicago exists outside the geographical scope of my usual routine, and it’s always great to be reminded of all the great people and places that are out there.
What’s one non-Barrel-of-Monkeys goal you want to absolutely nail before the end of the year?
I wanted to make a meringue pie, because I hadn’t ever done that before, but I actually just did that recently and it came out great! Boom, goals accomplished!
What are two things you like to do when you’re not performing/teaching?
I practice martial arts—I do wushu and other Chinese martial arts, and recently I’ve been flirting with some BJJ and more MMA-type stuff. It’s just the best exercise, and I really love my martial arts community.
I also really like to play board games. I try to meet up with friends to play some games every weekend if I can!
Noah playing the part of Batman in “Day of the Dark” alongside Meredith Miliron and Kayla Pulley.
See Noah tonight at 8 in our first performance of That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food. We can’t wait to share some of our favorite food-themed stories with you - get your tickets here.