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Joseph Schupbach (center) in "The Strange Story," with company members Jennifer Johnson and Rachel Wilson, part of the company's anthology show "That's Weird, Grandma" (photo by Evan Hanover)

Joseph Schupbach Named Artistic Director of Barrel of Monkeys

Longtime ensemble member succeeds Molly Brennan at helm of Chicago arts education theatre company.

Schupbach (photo by Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)

CHICAGO: The arts education theatre ensemble Barrel of Monkeys has a new alpha primate: Joseph Schupbach, a longtime ensemble member who has served as the company’s education coordinator since 2011, has been named artistic director—BOM’s fifth since it began in 1997. He succeeds Molly Brennan, who stepped down in September after serving for three years.

“Since 2005, when Joseph Schupbach began his internship at Barrel of Monkeys, he has lived and breathed the mission to celebrate the power of children’s imaginations,” said BOM executive director Amanda Farrar in a statement. “By embracing collaboration, a teaching model based on positive affirmation, and an ensemble of actor/educators who challenge one another artistically in the classroom and rehearsal room, Joseph has achieved great things in Barrel of Monkeys and beyond. Barrel of Monkeys’ artistic vision is in caring, capable and ambitious hands.”

Schupbach—who has worked all over Chicago as a teaching artist and performer, for such companies as Lookingglass Theatre, Murakami Sound Machine, InGen Productions and the Neo-Futurists—will team with BOM’s program director Elizabeth Levy to continue the company’s mission. BOM leads creative writing workshops with third- to fifth-grade students in underserved Chicago public schools, then turns their stories and words into professionally performed shows, presented both in school and for the general public. Barrel of Monkeys annually performs more than 300 student-written stories for the students in their schools and 175 stories on the stage for the general public.

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