Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows

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In September 2009, Barrel of Monkeys began its twelfth year of serving at-risk Chicago public school students with writing workshops that lead to professionally-performed theatrical presentations in the show That's Weird, Grandma. This show has produced over 700 stories and musical numbers since April 2001, when the stage run began. That's Weird, Grandma will continue at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago, every Monday night at 8 p.m. (except for the periods 1/25-3/1, and 4/12-19/10). Special holiday surprises will be included in the shows during Thanksgiving on November 23 and 30; winter holiday shows on December 21 and 28; Valentine's Day on February 14; and Easter on April 4 and 5.

For the first time during the winter/spring season, BOM will bring their popular Sunday, That's Weird, Grandma matinee series back for a limited run, between February 7 and April 4, 2010, at 2 p.m., also at the Neo-Futurarium (so there will be shows both on Sundays at 2 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m., from 3/7-4/5). There will be a performance hiatus for all shows on April 12 and 19, with regular Monday, 8 p.m., shows returning on April 26, 2010.

BOM headlines the kids' portion of Chicago Sketchfest, the world's largest sketch comedy festival, on Saturday, January 9, 2010, 2 p.m., at Theatre Building Chicago (chicagosketchfest.net). The next Monkey-O-Kee benefit will be held on January 31, 2010 (details TBA).

BOM's October 16th Fancy Schmancy benefit grossed $35,000, including a special audience donation of over $3,500 following a speech by Karen Love, a participant in the BOM program and literary coach at Kohn School. All benefit proceeds support BOM's programming in under-served communities and the Chicago Public Schools. BOM's HallowEd Halls event on October 31st at the Chicago Cultural Center taught 40 kids in their workshop, and presented That's Weird, Grandma to over 300 audience members. The Chicago Tribune featured BOM on October 14, 2009, saying, "That's Weird, Grandma is an assemblage of random thoughts and concerns of Chicago children, sculpted into theater, but so respectful of how kids think ... veering into lunacy, social criticism, even poignancy ... a show that seems to understand intuitively the pandering and exhausting tendencies of children's entertainment, and comments without sacrificing the innocence we associate with children's entertainment ... it demands respect."

Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actor-educators whose mission is to create an alternative learning environment in which children share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations, and have served more than 7500 students in 38 Chicago public schools. BOM accomplishes this through creative writing workshops and in-school performances of children's stories. BOM also engages the broader community in support of the visions of children through public performance of their work.

The staff includes Amanda Farrar, Executive Director; Luke Hatton, Artistic Director; Elizabeth Levy, Program Director; Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, Company Manager; Laura McKenzie, Musical Director; and Sarah Goeden, After-school Program Coordinator. Barrel of Monkeys is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Polk Bros Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, The Alphawood Foundation, Peoples Gas, Maurice and Meta Gross Foundation, The Mardi Gras Fund, and the Efroymson Family Foundation. This project is partially sponsored by a CityArts Program 2 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, The Chicago Public Schools, and hundreds of individuals.

Photos by James Geneske

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Matt Miller, Emjoy Gavino

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Brennan Buhl, Nick Caruso, Lauren Ludwig, Michael Govier, Lisa Barker, Tai Palmgren, Tom Malinowski, Lauren Sharpe, Emjoy Gavino, Desiree Castro, Elizabeth Levy

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Lauren Ludwig, Desiree Castro

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Emjoy Gavino, Lauren Sharpe, Lauren Ludwig, Desiree Castro, Curtis Williams, Michael Spatafora

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Lauren Sharpe, Desiree Castro, Tai Palmgren, Lisa Barker

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Brennan Buhl, Lisa Barker, Desiree Castro

Photo Flash: BOM Announces Holiday Shows
Matt Miller, Emjoy Gavino

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