Only 2 matinees left and preparing for C2E2!

Posted by Meredith on April 16, 2015

We are getting ready for our exciting performance at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) at McCormick place on April 25th!  In preparation for the big day, we are adding two new stories that will fit right in this week.  Check them out before the big convention this Sunday at 2:00pm!  Also, you only have two more weeks to catch us at 2:00pm Sundays! 

Untitled Halo3 by Victor R. Cleveland
I would like if our city wouldn’t have Halo3 games
First, because Halo3 effect the mind of all the kids that play.
Second, the kids will want to kill in their minds.
Finally, I would like to play but now its not for me.
In conclusion, this way the world would be better with Halo games

Not So Much Pressure By Lazaireus P, Morton Elementary
I am Batman and I believe that I shouldn’t save the world every day.
One reason why I think I shouldn’t have to save the world every day is because I is saving the world every day and he has a life and it should not just be about saving people because he could probably die just like other humans could.
One more reason is because while he is outside trying to save the world who will save his family from danger because it’s not like he could teleport.
The end

The Code: Say “Teleport” To Ambar at the box office for discounted Tickets.

See you at the show!

Meredith (guest director)

The Monkey Minute!

Posted by Amanda Farrar on April 16, 2015

The Monkey Minute School Residencies Company Members

There is a predominant concept in improvisation which is “Yes, and!” The idea is that if your partner presents an idea, your job it support the idea and add to it. Barrel of Monkeys embraces this concept in all of our work, and ask any Monkey and they will tell you that Tom Malinowski is the embodiment of “Yes, And”. More than a concept to be used on the stage, Tom encourages us all to use it in our lives day to day. The following is the “How To” guide from the “Yes, And” guru! Enjoy.

You can practice your “Yes, And” skills with Barrel of Monkeys! For example: “Yes! I will read this article AND I will come to the matinee performance of That’s Weird, Grandma on Sunday at 2pm!” OR “Yes, I will come to the matinee on Sunday AND I will make a donation to support the imaginations of children!”


Yes, And: A Lifestyle
By Tom Malinowski

Journeys can take on a multitude of forms – a trek across the cosmos, figuring out how to drink a purple ocean, and even changing a square tire.  Hesitation is normal and natural when it comes to embarking on journeys, both strange and familiar.  Barrel of Monkeys helps foster creativity and confidence through writing and acting.  During the 1st day of a Barrel of Monkeys elementary school residency, the kids are apprehensive yet eager to participate in the activities – warming up, brainstorming characters and ideas, and finally creating a story.  Even though we try our best to create an atmosphere of openness and ‘just write anything,’ there’s that pause a student can have when it comes to having such a boundless imagination.  “Can I write about my sister who picks on me?”  “I don’t know if I want to write about dragons eating cars or cats liking cheese.” “I think all children should have free video games.”  We say YES to these ideas AND we want a bit more.  “Yes to your sister, and can you describe her”  “Yes to both dragons and cats, and what kinds of cars do the dragons eat?”  “Yes to free video games, and is it ok if adults like free video games too?”  A little bit of detail goes a long way.  We accept their ideas which are amazing and funny.  We want to be clear to them too why we like what they’re creating.  “I like how you describe the lake because it reminds me of a vacation I took when I was your age.”  “That’s funny because a bug would say that to the bird!” 

Tom, Rani, and Lacy

When the performers and educators take to the stage and adapt a child’s story, we continue our “YES, AND” philosophy.  We want to stay true to the story and not overstep any boundaries, nor do we want to make the story simplistic.  Barrel of Monkeys has been around since 1997, and that in itself shows that we have succeeded in helping so many ideas come out of the best place: a child’s imagination. And one way we celebrate this is by bringing it to the stage.  The actors are in a constant flux of give and take, which is the ultimate YES, AND.  These stories deserve to come alive in the best way possible. 

At first I was hesitant in teaching for Barrel of Monkeys, but it opened my eyes to the whimsical, hilarious world of kids.  I was also nervous about auditioning for Barrel of Monkeys. But in the end I said yes, and ended up teaching and performing with Barrel of Monkeys for over 13 years. Being a performer and educator helped me to choose the path of a librarian.  I now reside in Boise, Idaho and I’m one of the Branch Librarians for Boise Public Library.  Although I miss my comrades and being in the classroom, I’m still doing YES, AND with my story times, outreach programs, and dealing with the public.  “YES I can help you find that book, AND may I make a suggestion as well?” 

Where are my props?!?!

Posted by Mary T on April 15, 2015

School Shows

Listen. Come a little bit closer. Lean in close to your computer monitor or laptop or teeny tiny phone screen or large computer-sized phone screen. I’m going to tell you a secret. Here it is: Barrel of Monkeys runs on PROPS. That’s right! You heard me right! Props! “What do you mean?” you’re saying to your screen, “I thought you were all about stories!!” Well, the REAL truth is WE ARE. We ARE about stories, but we are also all about props. We love props. Props help us tell the stories that we adapt even more vividly and help us create beautiful, engaging, and hilarious stage pictures.

The imaginative team of actors(including me!!) for Lorca Elementary’s upcoming show has been hard at work preparing a fabulous set of stories to be presented next Monday. So far we have been focusing on honoring the stories’ fun characters and imaginative plots, so we have yet to even use props to tell the stories. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been thinking about props, though! We’ve been thinking about what props we will need to rehearse with in our final dress rehearsal so that when the day comes, Maggie knows what props to bring to our rehearsal space at Loyola Park. It’s important we get at least one rehearsal in with the props so that we know we are using them in the most effective way possible and so we know where to place our props before the start of the show. This helps us to not lose our props so easily. (I have lost props before. It is not fun.)

Here is a list of props I am most looking forward to using in this show:

1. The boat, the shark and the other boat in the story “Boat” by Robert V.
2. Fake mud in the story “The Four Sisters and Stepsister” by Selena L.
3. Abraham Lincoln’s beard in “John and the Awesome Meditation” by Ian O.

That is just a mere TASTE of the great props we will be using for this show. A beautiful row of organized props before a Barrel of Monkeys show. The calm before the storm.  Lindsey plays the Boat President, getting thrown out of her boat. (Boat prop coming soon!)

I love props! I can’t wait to bring the show to life with all the props we are going to be using. Wait. I have a question for you, though. Where did I put my props?!?!

The Monkey Minute!

Posted by Amanda Farrar on April 9, 2015

The Monkey Minute That's Weird Grandma Company Members

Barrel of Monkeys has upwards of 65 active members. These company and ensemble members lovingly refer to themselves as “Monkeys”. Monkeys act as teaching artists in the classroom, adapt the stories written by the students for the stage, perform them for the students in the schools, and finally, perform for YOU at That’s Weird, Grandma almost every week.

Each Monkey is paid for their work in the schools, but donate their time to perform in That’s Weird, Grandma to allow the revenue generated from these public performances to support our arts education programs in schools that need them the most.

Below, Lacy Campbell describes what it’s like to walk into a show that has been going on almost nonstop since 2001. You can see her and all her Monkey friends Sundays at 2pm through April.


It’s Hard To Be Laura McKenzie
By Lacy Campbell

One of the [many] joys of being in That’s Weird, Grandma is that as a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, you can hop in and out of shows. Have some time on your hands? Sign up to do the show for six weeks! Want to do a play with another theater? No problem, sit the next one out and someone else will step in for you. 

However, since the cast is constantly shifting in a fruitbasket turnover of tangled wigs and tutus, this means that many of us end up sharing roles. For example, Laura McKenzie won’t be in the next few weeks of That’s Weird, Grandma, so I’m taking over a few of her roles.

But here’s the real problem:
I can’t be Laura!!!

The facial expressions!? The physical comedy!? Her reaction when Horsewolf eats her hair and she’s initially furious, then realizes it’s Horsewolf and beams with pride and delight?* …Guys, I have huge shoes to fill.

But that’s the thing. I gotta fill them, and somehow, I will. On Sunday at 2pm.

Last weekend, in our seven-hour “learn, stage, and perform an entire show!” frenzied sprint that is New That’s Weird, Grandma Cast Weekend, the entire cast took on this impossible task in different ways. Mary Winn has to be Ryan in I Am A Butcher and I Love Meat. Gwen has to take over for Jen in Tragic Fireworks, and some poor soul has to step into Donnell’s role in Princess Who Don’t Like Ketchup.

Mary Winn Heider, Lacy Campbell & Rachel Wilson in
In Monkeys, we are constantly raising the bar for each other by trying to be as wonderful as the person who went before us.

Who was the first dog you saw in The Dog Was Dead? I can no longer remember if the first dog I saw was Kristie, Molly, Erica, or Emjoy.  They all are fantastic. They all are hilarious. I guarantee they all felt terrified that they couldn’t possibly be as amazing as the dog who went before.

They all were.
We all are.
Show’s at 2:00pm on Sunday. See you there!

*all these things actually happen. Please see Horsewolf, it’s such a good story.

Do you like brothers?

Posted by Meredith on April 8, 2015

Hello Again! 
At Barrel of Monkeys, we teach our students to write persuasive arguments.  In 2010, Dariyell W. from the Stockton School, wrote an argument that has stuck with me for years and years. We are excited to share it with you this week in “That’s Weird Grandma”.  Come out and see it at 2:00pm on Sunday.  Bring your friends, bring your brothers!

Untitled (Brothers Argument) Dariyell W. – Stockton
I do not like brothers because they always messes with me.
I never get alone with my brothers because they tries to messes with me.
Sometime we get alone but I do not like them.
They always messes with me and I tell my mom.
Do some people like brothers?

The Code: Say “Do you like Brothers?” To Ambar at the box office for discounted Tickets.
See you at the show!
Meredith (guest director)