The opening lines of the introductory song of the long-running Monday night "That's Weird, Grandma" sum up perfectly the aim of Chicago's very own Barrel of Monkeys:
"Every story that you see as written by a child (uh huh). And every child was taught by the Barrel of Monkeys (well well). First we take the stories and perform them in the schools. Afterwards we share them with the world (you are the world)."
The Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actors that teach creative writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools. They adapt the stories into sketches and songs, which are performed for the school and every Monday evening at the Neo-Futurarium.
I recently took two tweens - my son and his friend, ages 10 and 11 - to a Monday evening That's Weird, Grandma show - and all three of us found ourselves bursting into uncontrollable laughter throughout. It was a gift to hear the unique voices of the school kids that penned the stories. Some of the memorable characters included a crazy man waiting at a magical bustop, a boy who transformed into a werewolf during standardized tests, and an evil-doer who turns feet into heavy stones
Starting in October, this hilarious group of talented actors will join with other key members of Chicago's theater scene to bring more outlandishly creative stories to the stage. The one-hour-long That's Weird, Grandma show morphs into Chicago's Weird Grandma. You'll still have the chance to experience the creativity of storytelling school kids in an offbeat, one hour show - only now the players will include members of some of the most acclaimed theater companies in the U.S., from the Tony-Award winning Lookinglass to the Steppenwolf. And because the show changes weekly, the material is always fresh and fun.
Catch "Chicago's Weird, Grandma" on Mondays, October 8 through December 17 at 8 p.m. at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. To reserve your tickets, click here.