Barrel of Monkeys’ approach to arts education is a unique hybrid of creative writing and drama. With a team of Monkeys cheering them on each week, students become motivated and excited about writing. Furthermore, they are given the opportunity to see their written works transformed by professional adults, and thus learn that their words are powerful and worthwhile.

BOM’s in-school residency program consists of six 90-minute sessions in each classroom served (usually 1-4 classrooms per school). A unique feature of the program is the presence of multiple teaching artists (5) in the classroom; this allows for immediate react ion and response to students at a greater degree than is possible with only one teacher. Each session allows time for improvisation, group story writing, performance, and individual story writing time, giving students the opportunity both to build community within the classroom and become accustomed to working as a group and independently through a repetitive process.

After each 6-week program, each student has written 6 new stories, a selection of which actors and musicians transform for the stage. BOM returns to the school to present an original performance drawn entirely from the student-written material. Following the performance, students’ notebooks are returned, including comments from teaching artists on every story they have written, and prompts for additional stories to encourage continued writing. Many students continue to write in their journals after the program ends, and BOM teaching artists have had students from prior years approach them to share their new ideas for stories.

The collaboration between child-author and adult-performer creates a performance that is told from a child’s perspective but with the respect and training of a professional performer. The school performances are an opportunity for the child-authors to see their work performed in front of an audience of their peers, an experience that is profoundly moving and empowering for the students.

For more information about our in-school programming, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

From the Blog: School Programs

Monkey Minute: From Page to Stage in 18 Hours or Less

Posted by Joe on July 06

Here is another Monkey Minute from super director Meredith! A Day in the Life: From Page to Stage in 18 Hours or Less Meredith Milliron As we arrive at Loyola Park for the first rehearsal, excitement is in the air. … More

It’s our first school show!

Posted by hpalmer on May 24

Hey there, everyone! James and I (Hailey) are doing our first Barrel of Monkeys school show! We’ve been having a lot of fun in rehearsals, learning about how the Monkeys adapt stories from journals into an entire production in… More

North Lawndale, or “Teamwork makes the Dream Work!”

Posted by Bryan on May 15

Hi, internet! This is your good friend Bryan letting you know all is well—nay, FANTASTIC—with the North Lawndale school show adapting process. And I’ll have you know that it’s especially thrilling for me to be in… More

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“The work is glorious... To my knowledge, nobody is doing this kind of work in Chicago.”

–Greg Allen, Artistic Director, The Neo-Futurists