Inside the Monkeys Studio: Interview with Rawson Vint

Posted by Eunice on July 10, 2016

Special Events That's Weird Grandma TWG Weekly Update Company Members

With The Ten Diamonds and Sisters by Michelle A. from the Johnson School of Excellence slated to go into TWG on Monday, I sat down with Rawson Vint, the mastermind behind adapting this story into a song. We chatted about his process and special connection to the story. Read an excerpt from the interview below.

What first drew you to The Ten Diamonds and Sisters in the rehearsal room?
I think I gravitate to those types of stories because of the challenge, the originality of the work, and the chance to experiment. Diamonds in particular was a challenge because I set myself a task to do it word for word. There’s maybe two exceptions, but other than that—it’s verbatim what the author wrote.

Not only did you adapt this story into a song, you also originated the role of the mother. If this song were to be performed on Broadway, which celebrity would the producers hire to replace you? (Not that you’re replaceable but let’s face it, it’s a tough business)
I keep thinking “who’d be the most unlikely person to do this song” and it would have to be Alex Trebek from Jeopardy. Wouldn’t that be weird? And great? Can he even sing?

Does Diamonds tell a larger story? What metaphor or real life connections do you hope audience members take away?
There’s definitely some attachment anxiety going on in this family, not to mention they eat dinner at 10pm. But I think the take away is “take care of yourself and your family….and your diaaaaaaamonds”.

Tom’s 15 Year Anniversary Show TOP 15 LIST

Posted by Joe on April 6, 2016

Special Events That's Weird Grandma Company Members

The That’s Weird, Grandma 15th Anniversary Show is just around the corner! Here is a wishlist list from company member Tom Malinowski!

tom and brennan

That’s Weird Grandma: 15 for 15

Hey! It’s me Tom! And here are my 15 favorite TWG memories! So many great ones, but here you go!

15 Toothless Beaver & Broom - Probably one of the fastest adaptations for a school story I was in

14 Croc & Eggnog - Halena gave us the easy direction of “Do this exactly like Toothless Beaver & Broom.”

13 Funny Bunny - Kristie is my main antagonist who finally gives in to the silliness of the story

12 Superheroes - Only two awesome women have played ?, Lacy and Laura who each bring a similar hilarious yet deliver it differently

11 Magical Place - The only story where I’ve used an annoying high voice over and over and not gotten tired of it

10 The Lobster Factory - The only story when we did it at TWG (5th year anniversary I believe?!) where Beau supplied me a blood packet to burst when the lobster first claws me.  I haven’t used a blood packet since.  Fake blood.

9 The Meat one (with puppets) - I usually held one end of the curtain the puppets hid behind and I continually, genuinely laughed at the ridiculousness of the reasons why meat is good for you

8 The Raven - The only adaptation of a story into a song about a roller coaster by Geoff Rice which is all full of amazingness

7 The one where I’m in a movie theatre and when it was at TWG Jeff did the voiceover - Whenever he mimicked Carol Channing I lost it

6 The Boat War - This might’ve been the first piece I was in where a non-musician did the music on Garageband (Anthony!)

5 We grouped three stories under the umbrella “A Very Scary Scary Story Minute”  We spread this throughout the school show and eventually TWG Green Glob, The Ugly Girl, and one more…..  probably one of the first adaptations where we did something like that.  We came out singing the jingle, said the title of the story, and then the very short story started

4 The Opening - When we first did the opening for TWG, we would change up the choreography constantly as the schtick

3 Closing Speech - Remember when we did the closing speech and we also did the dance while we did it?  That was a first!

2 The basketball one that Jeff and I were in..  - Jeff was the main driving force, and he picked “On to the Next One” song which I hadn’t heard before until he brought the song for rehearsal

1 Old old story I can’t remember the title - But Charlie and I would start on opposite sides, stomp to each other at the center, growl, then I put him over my shoulder and walked off stage.  I haven’t put someone over my shoulder ever since.

More information about THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: 15th ANNIVERSARY SHOW directed by Joseph Schupbach and Halena Kays

Company members old and new will reunite as Barrel of Monkeys celebrates 15 years of its hit revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA with two special anniversary performances on Sunday April 17 at 2 pm and Monday, April 18 at 8 pm at its long-time home, the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available here!

The special 90-minute production will feature 30 sketches and songs, two from each of the 15 years THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA has been performed at Neo-Futurist theater, including plenty of audience favorites. Directed by current Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach and Founding Artistic Director Halena Kays, the 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS will feature long-time company members, as well as out-of-town artists returning to the show they performed in years ago. Back in the booth is Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, who served as the company’s stage manager for ten years. All of the stories are written by Chicago Public School students and adapted for the stage by Barrel of Monkeys Company Members. The 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW cast includes active members Ashley Bland, Kassi Bleifuss, Brandon Cloyd, Anthony Courser, Lindsey Dorcus, Linsey Falls, Michael Govier, Nick Hart, Mary Winn Heider, Jennifer Johnson, Elizabeth Levy, Laura McKenzie, Spencer Meeks, Matt Miller, Meredith Milliron, Shá Norman, Tai Palmgren, Zoe Schwartz, Jason Sperling, Kate Staiger, Brad Stevens, Rawson Vint, Curtis Williams and Rachel Wilson.

Emeritus and out-of-town members include Brenda Arellano, Lisa Barker, Brennan Buhl, Sarah Garner, Luke Hatton (former Artistic Director), Mike Lubin, Tom Malinowski, Philip Markle, Jonathan Mastro, Lauren Sharpe, Eric Silverberg, Mike Spatafora, Kristie Vuocolo (former Executive Director), Ryan Walters and Donnell Williams.

“I am absolutely thrilled about this celebration! I have the incredible opportunity to co-direct with Founding Artistic Halena Kays, who led the company for ten years – and welcome back alumni into the cast. My relationship with ‘Grandma’ now spans eleven years, so I’m delighted to put some of my favorite stories back on stage. Long-time audience members will enjoy some ‘oldies’ and brand new audience will be delighted to see this mega-sized cast perform the written work of Chicago Public Schools students. There will be song, dance, puppets, short films, surprises, blasts from the past and much more. It will undoubtedly be a magical place to spend 90 minutes.” -Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach

Brad’s 15 Year Anniversary Show TOP 15 LIST

Posted by Joe on April 6, 2016

Special Events That's Weird Grandma Company Members

The That’s Weird, Grandma 15th Anniversary Show is just around the corner! Here is a wishlist list from company member Brad!

brad

That’s Weird Grandma: 15 for 15

Hey! It’s me Brad! And here are my 15 favorite TWG adaptations. So many great ones, but here you go!

15. The Haunted Piano: featuring Oona and Luke Hatton. Creepy, yet hilarious!

14. Kool Aid: Matt Miller dressed as a giant Kool Aid man. Need I say more. Mad props to Meredith Ibey Milliron for the

13. Trapped In the Hospital: An oldie but goodie musical number. Saw it for the first time at the TWG 10 Year celebration. Classic!

12. The Ghost Story of the Old Time Country: Immanuel Guest, “I don’t like to be mad in life!” One of the best line readings EVER!!!

11. Ice Cream Man: Laura McKenzie starring down the poor kid with no ice cream. Ha!

10. The Scary Mystery: The first time the Monkey teachers read it in the class room, we knew destined for Grandma.

9. The Long Day: Nick Hart and Curtis Williams were born to play these roles.

8. Magical Place: The song will haunt you in your dreams, but man is it a fun time!!!

7. A Bad Day: Phillip Markle running out in a dress to declare the Cheer Off. Need I say more.

6. The Time I had a Snowball Fight: Curtis Williams does it again with a great adaptation. The Matrix callback…. Classic!!!

5. The Girl Who Had a Monkey: Tim Soszko as the girl, Rawson as the Monkey, and Nick as the poor guy constantly being attacked. Nice.

4. Wanting Meat Loaf: Music by Gwen, Curtis singing, and Miller as Meat Loaf. It Tis Rock Opera Magic I tell you!

3. UNTITLED (Astronauts): This story makes me want to buy a rocket, just to celebrate my birthday in

2. Crying Woman: A tragic, yet beautiful tale told with puppets. Amazing.

1. My Trip To Wisconsin: Curt Chaing combined two fantastic stories to create one of the greatest Barrel of Monkey adaptations ever. Truly a masterpiece!!!

More information about THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: 15th ANNIVERSARY SHOW directed by Joseph Schupbach and Halena Kays

Company members old and new will reunite as Barrel of Monkeys celebrates 15 years of its hit revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA with two special anniversary performances on Sunday April 17 at 2 pm and Monday, April 18 at 8 pm at its long-time home, the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available here!

The special 90-minute production will feature 30 sketches and songs, two from each of the 15 years THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA has been performed at Neo-Futurist theater, including plenty of audience favorites. Directed by current Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach and Founding Artistic Director Halena Kays, the 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS will feature long-time company members, as well as out-of-town artists returning to the show they performed in years ago. Back in the booth is Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, who served as the company’s stage manager for ten years. All of the stories are written by Chicago Public School students and adapted for the stage by Barrel of Monkeys Company Members. The 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW cast includes active members Ashley Bland, Kassi Bleifuss, Brandon Cloyd, Anthony Courser, Lindsey Dorcus, Linsey Falls, Michael Govier, Nick Hart, Mary Winn Heider, Jennifer Johnson, Elizabeth Levy, Laura McKenzie, Spencer Meeks, Matt Miller, Meredith Milliron, Shá Norman, Tai Palmgren, Zoe Schwartz, Jason Sperling, Kate Staiger, Brad Stevens, Rawson Vint, Curtis Williams and Rachel Wilson.

Emeritus and out-of-town members include Brenda Arellano, Lisa Barker, Brennan Buhl, Sarah Garner, Luke Hatton (former Artistic Director), Mike Lubin, Tom Malinowski, Philip Markle, Jonathan Mastro, Lauren Sharpe, Eric Silverberg, Mike Spatafora, Kristie Vuocolo (former Executive Director), Ryan Walters and Donnell Williams.

“I am absolutely thrilled about this celebration! I have the incredible opportunity to co-direct with Founding Artistic Halena Kays, who led the company for ten years – and welcome back alumni into the cast. My relationship with ‘Grandma’ now spans eleven years, so I’m delighted to put some of my favorite stories back on stage. Long-time audience members will enjoy some ‘oldies’ and brand new audience will be delighted to see this mega-sized cast perform the written work of Chicago Public Schools students. There will be song, dance, puppets, short films, surprises, blasts from the past and much more. It will undoubtedly be a magical place to spend 90 minutes.” -Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach

THE MUSICAL ROUND: Two more weekends left!

Posted by Joe on April 1, 2016

That's Weird Grandma TWG Weekly Update

That’s Weird, Grandma: THE MUSICAL is only running for two more weekends! This Sunday and 2pm, Monday at 8pm and the same times next week. Thats only 4 more chances to see 15 incredible stories that have been adapted into songs. Like Barrel of Monkeys classic “IRS Moles” by Ben L. from Hough Street School.

Eeooo! The sirens rang throughout the city. Speakers popped out of buildings. “Run, the IRS Moles are coming” said the speakers. Everyone ran. They knew that moles would make them pay. “Come on” said Harold to his mother as they ran. “But the cookies” said his mother, “we need them.” “We’ll have to leave them” said Harold. “Dang” said his sister. “I say we fight back against this tax collecting” said Bob who was 2 and very smart. No one noticed. He hopped down from his mother and ran back to the house unnoticed by his family. Suddenly out the window he saw a bunch of Moles in tuxedos. “Those must be the IRS Moles” thought Bob. Abruptly one walked up to his house and knocked on the door. Bob found a ladder and opened the door. “You have taxes to pay” said the Mole. Now Bob may have been a genius but he didn’t know what you were supposed to pay taxes with. He knew that he had to give the Mole something, so he went to the cupboard and got some squishy canned peas. When the Mole saw the peas he screamed and ran for his life. Moles have a horrible allergy to squishy peas. All the people came back and told Bob he should be mayor. The only person who did not like this idea was the current mayor. But nobody cared and Bob led them wonderfully.

mole

Don’t miss it!

Use discount code “ITSAMUSICAL” when buying your tickets online for $2 off!

Meredith’s 15 Year Anniversary Show TOP 15 LIST

Posted by Joe on March 30, 2016

Special Events That's Weird Grandma Company Members

The That’s Weird, Grandma 15th Anniversary Show is just around the corner! Here is a wishlist list from company member Meredith!

Meredith

This is my 10th season with Barrel of Monkeys and I couldn’t be more excited to participate in the 15 year Anniversary of TWG!  Picking 15 stories is an impossible task.  My original list had over 30 stories, including most from the 10 year anniversary and Loyola Park Live.  However, painfully I did it.
Drum Roll Please.

Top 15 TWG stories to hit the Neofuturist Theater stage are:

#15 The Bulls Game, Michael E. & Napoleon N.  Paderewski Elementary
I have a video of this on my phone. When I need a good laugh, I watch Tom M. and Jeff T. freak out.  I can’t get enough of this play. 

#14 Untitled (Horsewolf) Tamarra M., Dewey School of Excellence
If you haven’t seen Horsewolf… you haven’t been to TWG in years.  This is a killer adaptation and a killer song.  I love horsewolf.

#13 Girl Who Had A Monkey Parianna B., New Sullivan School
Parianna must have watched Dieter’s Dance Party from SNL in the nineties.  When I read her journal, it was all I could think about.  “Touch my monkey”

#12 Magical Place Dulce H. 4th Grade, CEA
I love nothing more than performing in “magical place”.  Really, I could stay there forever.

#11 The Biggest Fight Ever By Richard R., 4th Grade, Cleveland Elementary 2007
My first year in Barrel of Monkey’s, I took home and adapted a fart joke.  It ended up on WTTW.  Yes, live television.  To all Fart Joke writers- keep writing. Boom Ka Boom!

#10 Attack of the Russian Army Jaycee S, Andrew P, Paco O., Jessica V., Jazmin H, Jose G., 4th Grade, Orchard Place
I’ll never forget Brennan plugging the fan into his coffee mug, or Rachel’s seductive Russian accent, or Tai and Curtis’s Russian henchmen.  “Mr. fan-tastic”

#9 I am Taylor the Rose Naheige L. 4th Grade Cleveland Elementary 2007
Laura Mac’s character work on Taylor is to die for.  I could watch Taylor for hours.  I want to meet Taylor. 

#8 The Dance of Yousail Marcia, 4th Grade Chalmers School 2008
I think this is one of the most unique adaptations I’ve ever been a part of in Barrel of Monkeys; the costumes, the song, the choreography, the characters.  More Joe-Joe please!

#7 My Streets is always Quiet Takayla N. New Sullivan School
Can’t listen to or sing this song without getting a tear in my eye.  It is a life changer.

#6 Everyone Get Married Sade T., Brian H., Eva S., Bailey G., and Israel E., Graham Elementary School
The character work on this piece is magic.  I had the pleasure of choosing this group story for my cast and then directing its adaptation.  I couldn’t stop laughing when i read it at home, and then couldn’t stop laughing when it was performed.  Thank goodness Brandon had those snake eyes in his backpack!

#5 Good Days Julian S. & Damarcus G. 4th Grade, Dixon
From the minute this play hit the stage in rehearsal, we all knew it was a hit.  The weird hand gestures of Chris Matthews and Ryan Walters were only exaggerated by other cast members in its long TWG run.  “gotta get them jordans!”

#4 The Time we had a snowball fight Dionta S. 4th Grade, Kohn
This is mind blowing.  Everyone always asked me- “is snowball fight in”.  Alas, it’s been over 2 years since we’ve seen it!

#3 Untitled (I remember when my uncle dunked on Mr. Blager) Rael W. 3rd Grade, New Sullivan
Both Matt Miller and Kurt Chang made me cry with laughter as Mr. Blager.  “Mr. Blager!!!”

#2 Bunny Madness Roxette, 4th grade Cleveland School
I remember when Laura Mac brought this amazing song into the rehearsal room with a bunch of disclaimers.  After she played it, we dismissed them immediately.  Everyone should be “free outside the toilet”

#1 The Fight Between Franklin and the Mouse By Mae O, Kai C, Ben W, Molly Jo K, Rashele O, Linda L, Jahnese A, 3rd Grade, Lincolnwood Elementary 2012
I got to direct Lincolnwood (our suburban residency in Evanston) two years in a row. I loved this entire show, especially this amazing adaption by Lindsey Dorcus (the only lady in the cast!) & Brandon Cloyd.  I finally got to pick a music track for a story!

See you at the show!
Meredith


More information about THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: 15th ANNIVERSARY SHOW directed by Joseph Schupbach and Halena Kays

Company members old and new will reunite as Barrel of Monkeys celebrates 15 years of its hit revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA with two special anniversary performances on Sunday April 17 at 2 pm and Monday, April 18 at 8 pm at its long-time home, the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available here!

The special 90-minute production will feature 30 sketches and songs, two from each of the 15 years THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA has been performed at Neo-Futurist theater, including plenty of audience favorites. Directed by current Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach and Founding Artistic Director Halena Kays, the 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS will feature long-time company members, as well as out-of-town artists returning to the show they performed in years ago. Back in the booth is Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, who served as the company’s stage manager for ten years. All of the stories are written by Chicago Public School students and adapted for the stage by Barrel of Monkeys Company Members. The 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW cast includes active members Ashley Bland, Kassi Bleifuss, Brandon Cloyd, Anthony Courser, Lindsey Dorcus, Linsey Falls, Michael Govier, Nick Hart, Mary Winn Heider, Jennifer Johnson, Elizabeth Levy, Laura McKenzie, Spencer Meeks, Matt Miller, Meredith Milliron, Shá Norman, Tai Palmgren, Zoe Schwartz, Jason Sperling, Kate Staiger, Brad Stevens, Rawson Vint, Curtis Williams and Rachel Wilson. 

Emeritus and out-of-town members include Brenda Arellano, Lisa Barker, Brennan Buhl, Sarah Garner, Luke Hatton (former Artistic Director), Mike Lubin, Tom Malinowski, Philip Markle, Jonathan Mastro, Lauren Sharpe, Eric Silverberg, Mike Spatafora, Kristie Vuocolo (former Executive Director), Ryan Walters and Donnell Williams.

“I am absolutely thrilled about this celebration! I have the incredible opportunity to co-direct with Founding Artistic Halena Kays, who led the company for ten years – and welcome back alumni into the cast. My relationship with ‘Grandma’ now spans eleven years, so I’m delighted to put some of my favorite stories back on stage. Long-time audience members will enjoy some ‘oldies’ and brand new audience will be delighted to see this mega-sized cast perform the written work of Chicago Public Schools students. There will be song, dance, puppets, short films, surprises, blasts from the past and much more. It will undoubtedly be a magical place to spend 90 minutes.” -Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach