Barrel of Monkeys
Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) is an ensemble of actors and educators that creates an alternative learning environment in which children share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations. BOM accomplishes this through creative writing workshops and in-school performances of children\'s stories from said workshops. BOM also engages the broader community in the visions of children though public performances of their work. BOM achieves this mission by:

• Teaching fundamental creative writing skills
• Providing a safe and supportive learning environment
• Building self esteem and confidence in children
• Adapting stories written by children for the stage by professional actors
• Presenting a smart, funny theatre experience.
• Building a community that respects the value of each child\'s personal and artistic contribution, and the diversity of his or her perspective


Barrel of Monkeys was founded in 1997 and grew out of Griffin’s Tale, a wildly successful theatre company at Northwestern University. Griffin’s Tale adapts and performs stories sent to them by students from North Shore schools. Barrel of Monkeys founders Erica Halverson and Halena Kays both performed and directed Griffin’s Tale. After graduating, they wanted to bring a similar program to schools in need of literacy and self-esteem programs. BOM’s process is based in research that shows that stimuli provided through pictures, song, movement and play-acting are essential in child development in order to facilitate creative expression. Studies also show that drama games work to improve the quality and consistency of writing and literacy skills. Halverson, who received her Ph.D. in Education & Social Policy at Northwestern University and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin, developed a curriculum for BOM’s school-based residency program with the aforementioned research as its foundation. BOM piloted its program with the Heartland Alliance and then partnered with Chicago Communities in Schools to bring BOM to the Chicago Public Schools.


BOM\'S sketch comedy show (written entirely by children, and performed by adults) inspires ages 5-85. This collaboration of child-author and adult performer is the essence of Barrel of Monkeys. While children are the primary audience-base, the show is not marketed for children; rather, it shares the stories of children. They are collaborators in the creative process with. This collaboration creates a performance that is told from a child’s perspective to create worlds of extreme drama filled with joy, death, absurdity and delight. Our performers execute the children’s stories with a giddy enthusiasm and high respect for the material, which inspires children -- and adults -- to engage in creative expression.

Barrel of Monkeys is currently running “That’s Weird, Grandma” (TWG) at the Neo-Futurarium Theater in Chicago. TWG opened in April 2001 and has continued its successful run ever since. The show currently is performed at 8pm on Monday


Source: Heidi Thompson, Executive Director, Barrel of Monkeys
E-mail, July 5, 2007

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