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

Halloween in January

Posted by Kassi on January 20

The Super 7 Girls of Willa Cather Elementary love scary stories. And we are having a great time adapting those spooky tales into thrilling plays. In “The Day it was Halloween” by Nakiya B., the tension build will have you shaking… More

Columbia Explorers Show (2015)

Posted by Bradford on January 12

In case you’re wondering, (and I know you are); what a typical Barrel of Monkeys school show is like….Well, it goes a little something like this… Wake up in the wee hours of the morning and kick it… More

My Decade at Barrel of Monkeys

Posted by Amanda Farrar on December 29

Greetings! It’s me, Joseph Schupbach, the new and fifth Artistic Director of Barrel of Monkeys. I am delighted and honored to be in this role.  I am already having an incredible time watching artists work, teach, and create… 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