unqualified success

Years ago, the artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys asked me if I'd like to direct, and for years I never said NO, exactly, but I certainly never said yes.

I was too scared. Scared I would compromise the quality of the shows, scared my peers and friends wouldn't like me if I bossed them around or shaped their ideas.
... basically, if I directed them.

I finally directed my first show this week. (Ironically, my first rehearsal was the day I got engaged. Facing fears left and right, yo. Look out.)

The show happened this morning.
It was awesome and amazing, and most importantly, I think everyone had a good time creating and performing the show. I know for a fact that the audience loved it. I mean, a plush sheep and a stinky doll each got brutally beheaded by 500 Clown badass and heartthrob Molly Brennan. AWWWEESSSSOMMME.

It is hard to explain Barrel of Monkeys if you have not seen it.
It might sound a little precious, and not at all like the rock show of dubious morals and pure hilarity that it actually is.

But here's the basic:
Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actor/educators that teaches creative writing workshops Chicago Public Schools. At the end of each residency at each school, they take the children's resulting stories and drawings and adapt them into a sketch comedy show, which they then perform at that school. The authors feel like rock stars, their self esteem and literacy are raised exponentially, and the world is saved.
The end.
ps, also wonderful theater is created.

That's kind of it.

Oh, no, wait. I like to include this part:
"This group is funnier than anything at Second City, more genuinely creative than anything at Lookingglass, and does more good than all the other nonprofit theaters in town put together. If you don't have a good time, there's something wrong with you."
-The Chicago Reader
SEE? It IS good.

Thanks, Chris Piatt. I love you too, even if you wouldn't come see my play at the Cornservatory. I don't blame you. I mean, it WAS the Cornservatory. I get it. And I get that there's a war on between Jersey Boys and, say, Strawdog's original musical about Chicago politics. And I salute you for fighting that fight.

I directed. I was so nervous I nearly lost my big diner pancake breakfast.

There were many wonderful pieces, but my favorite was a dialogue written by two 3rd graders. One of whom desperately wanted to shape history and right a terrible wrong.

It is important to know that 2 kids wrote this. They took turns writing the lines. The dramatic struggle for control within the scene is REAL, folks.


Sora: Hello, Abe.

A.L: Wanta be friends?

Sora: Okay. Do you want to go to the PARK?

A.L.: Want to go to the theatre with me in the balcony?

[dramatic pause]

Sora: [carefully] I want to go to the PARK.

A.L.: Okay.

Sora: Let's go to the PARK and play hopscotch.

A.L.: ...I love pirates. Do you love pirates?




Evan said...

Oh man! That's Weird Grandma remains the most wonderful show I've ever seen. And now you directed it too?! I can't wait! I will be bringing friends.

Justin said...

and they say social studies is dead...