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PlayMakers Laboratory is thrilled to Celebrate 25 Years of Students’ Stories

WE DID IT! We Saved PlayMakers Laboratory and now it’s time to celebrate our 25th year!

While early 2022 was a big bump in the road, we reversed a near shutdown and continued programming for the Spring, Summer, and Fall. We did this with the incredible donations of supporters like you who helped us raise $60,000 on GoFundMe. Thank you!

Where are we heading now? We cut expenses, moved out of our office space, and realigned our organization’s model to focus on our central mission: offering impeccable arts education programs to students across Chicago. We are thrilled to have kept PlayMakers Laboratory alive during this difficult year in order to ensure that the young artists and writers of Chicago continue to share their stories and build self-esteem through literary arts. Here is why we need your continued support.

This year marked our first time teaching in-person and performing live shows for our students since the 2020 pandemic had us pivot to virtual learning. Our artists and the staff who remained to execute these programs in 2022 did some incredible work and our assessment results back it up.

The average writing score for students increased by 31% and…
32% of students improved their writing by 1 level
30% of students improved their writing by 2 levels
18% of students improved their writing by 3 levels or more
Plus 77% of our students demonstrated an increased
knowledge of story structures (up from 45% last year!)

PlayMakers Laboratory (formerly Barrel of Monkeys) was formed in 1997 and has represented the pinnacle of arts education in Chicago for the past 25 years. Will you help us on our 25th Anniversary by making a gift? This kind of work can only be accomplished through the support of generous donors like you and there are a few ways to show your support for this work.

FIRST
, you can give a tax deductible donation to PlayMakers Laboratory by clicking the Donate Now button below.

Donate Now

SECOND, Come see PlayMakers Laboratory’s 25 Years of Students’ Stories: A One Night Only Anniversary Performance at the Neo-Futurist Theater on December 5, 2022! There are two performances at 6:30PM and 8:30PM. Tickets can be purchased for $25 in honor of our 25 years by clicking the ‘Purchase Tickets’ button below.

Purchase Tickets

With warmest regards,
Brandon Cloyd
Executive Artistic Director.

We are also grateful for the support of the following foundations & entities:
Crown Family Philanthropies, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Illinois Humanities Foundation, Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation, Mardi Gras Fund, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Saints Foundation, Siragusa Family Foundation,  National Endowment for the Arts, Paul M. Angell Foundation.

THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: AT THE BEVERLY ARTS CENTER—DIGITAL PROGRAM

PlayMakers Laboratory is pleased to return to the stage and present That’s Weird, Grandma to live audiences at the Beverly Arts Center on September 17 at 5:3PM. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by visiting: The Beverly Arts Center Website

That’s Weird, Grandma: At the Beverly Arts Center—DIGITAL PROGRAM

WRITTEN BY CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS & CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT CAMPERS AND ADAPTED FOR THE STAGE BY PLAYMAKERS LABORATORY TEACHING ARTISTS

Directed By:
Brandon Cloyd
Stage Manager & Production Manager:
Cedar Larson
The Cast:
Nick Crothers, Marianna Gallegos, Linnaea Groh, Barry Irving, Kal Jazeera, Jonathan Lee-Rey, Sam Nieves, Lee Peters, & Micheal Angelo Smith

The Stories:
Michael Jordan’s House
The Bad King The Bad Dinosaur
Duck Sili
Dogs vs Court
Jerry the Tooth Bunny
Ari’s Crazy Life
Happy Gets Sad
The Secret Pilot
Monster’s Belly
Wearing a Pink Dress
The Little Minion and his OJ and his Lemonade
Horsewolf
Monster Monologue

Also, Check us out on Social Media by following our: Youtube, Patreon, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.

THANK YOU BEVERLY ARTS CENTER FOR HOSTING PLAYMAKERS LAB

We are also grateful for the support of the following foundations & entities:
Crown Family Philanthropies, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Illinois Humanities Foundation, Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation, Mardi Gras Fund, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Saints Foundation, Siragusa Family Foundation,  National Endowment for the Arts, Paul M. Angell Foundation.

Brandon Cloyd joined PlayMakers Laboratory in 2007 and has been deeply involved in many facets of the company ever since. Prior to joining PML, Brandon graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Business Institutions. Within PML, Brandon has served as an actor, teaching artist, lead teacher, a member of Teacher Corps, as well as directing shows for schools and public performances of That’s Weird, Grandma. Before becoming the company’s Artistic Director in September 2017, Brandon served as PML After-School Program Coordinator at Loyola Park from 2014-2016 and Program Director from 2016-2017. Outside of PlayMakers Laboratory, he worked as the Associate Director of Camp Echo, where he has spent 13 summers managing campers and staff at a co-ed sleep away camp in Upstate New York. Brandon has worked with other theatre companies including Urban Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Filament Theatre, InGen Productions, ACLE’s Teatrino in Italy and Purple Crayon Players at Northwestern University. Brandon recently joined the Board of Directors for the League of Chicago Theatres.

 

What is That’s Weird, Grandma?

Now in its nineteenth year, That’s Weird, Grandma features adaptations of stories written during PML’s creative writing residencies in Chicago elementary schools. PML’s ensemble of professional actors, comedians and musicians bring the young authors’ stories to life as raucous sketches, songs and movement pieces, performing first for students in their schools and then for the public. These stories - from hilarious dialogues between unlikely characters to poignant pleas for social change - resonate with adults while celebrating the imaginations of young people.

 


Teen Arts Pass logo

PlayMakers Laboratory is excited to be an inaugural Teen Arts Pass (TAP) partner. TAP is a new initiative by Urban Gateways that gives young people ages 13-19 access to $5 tickets to see professional dance, music, and theater performances in and around Chicago. Learn more about the program and sign up here.

Some reviews of the show...

“[PML's performers are] the perfect blend of over the top energy, comedic timing, and wacky facial expressions . . .”

–Bonnie Kenaz-Mara, ChiIL Mama

“[PlayMakers Laboratory] brings its A-game every week. That’s not just devotion to the craft: it’s devotion to the cause.”

–Ian Rigg, Chicagoland Musical Theatre

“[PlayMakers Laboratory] shows, like chocolate chip cookies, are a source of infinite delight.”

–Jessie Bond, Chicago Splash

Read more reviews


That's Weird, Grandma

Jen Johnson, Mary Winn Heider, and Laura McKenzie performing in
Raquel Torre wearing a shark hat performing in

“The most important thing I learned is that everyone can be a great writer—even me!”

–Freedom S., Lorca Elementary