Posted by Amanda Farrar on April 29, 2015
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.
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.
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!”
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?
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.
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.