Photo Flash: Barrel of Monkey's BOM

Barrel of Monkey's eighth annual Fancy Schmancy benefit will be held on Friday, October 16, 2009, 7-11 p.m., at the Chicago Cultural Center, G.A.R. Hall and Rotunda, 78 E. Washington St., in Chicago. Sponsored this year by Katten Muchin Rosenman, and Ernst & Young, the evening offers fancy food, fancy monkeys and fancy hats, and features live and silent auctions (detailed below), plus a special performance of "That's Weird, Grandma." All proceeds support BOM's programming in under-served communities and the Chicago Public Schools. Single tickets are $75-$100, two VIP seats are $200, and a table for ten (including wine and extras) is $1000, which are available at https://barrel-of-monkeys.ticketleap.com/ and 773-281-0638.

Fancy Schmancy benefit auction items offered for the October 16th event include roundtrip airfare for two plus special Saturday Night Live tickets (not available to the general public); a one week stay in a South Padre condo; book club reading events for seven with Chicago authors including James Kennedy (The Order of the Odd Fish), J. Adam Oaks (Why I Fight) and Claire Zulkey (An Off Year); an opportunity to play a role in BOM's stage production "That's Weird, Grandma;" plus American Girl items; Chicago Filmmakers and Chicago History Museum memberships; Field Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright home tour, and Shedd Aquarium tickets; Hyde Park Art Center and Paper Source classes; as well as numerous restaurant certificates, and theatre, movie, stand-up and music event tickets.

BOM and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs will present a special day of interactive Halloween workshops and performances for ages 7-13 on Saturday, October 31, 2009, between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. "HallowEd Halls: On Stage!" is free and open to the public (coming in costume is encouraged), located at 78 E. Washington St. in Chicago, and includes mask making and costume accessorizing (to add to existing costumes, 10 a.m., Rotunda); participants write, rehearse and perform a short play (11 a.m., G.A.R. Hall); culminating in a speciAl Halloween performance of BOM's hit "That's Weird, Grandma" (12:30 p.m., Cassidy Theater). Details at www.dcatheater.org/shows/show/hallowed_halls_on_stage/

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 600 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 on January 25 and February 1, 2010. Special holiday surprises will be included in the shows around Halloween on October 26 and November 2; Thanksgiving shows on November 23 and 30; and holiday shows on December 21 and 28.

BOM will also take part in Chicago Sketchfest, the world's largest sketch comedy festival, on Saturday, January 9, 2010, 2 p.m., at Theatre Building Chicago (chicagosketchfest.net).

In spring 2009, Barrel of Monkeys partnered with EPIC, a nonprofit organization of "creatives" from the ad/design industries. EPIC helped Barrel of Monkeys develop new marketing materials including a brand new logo (on letterhead above), Web layout and event invitations; as well as new and advanced marketing strategies for the organization. BOM will be utilizing the new designs and strategies in the coming year.

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 children 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 Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The Alphawood Foundation, Peoples Gas, Maurice and Meta Gross Foundation, and The Mardi Gras Fund. 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.

Photo credit: Erich Nerger

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