PlayMakers Laboratory (PML) is pleased to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its popular sketch comedy revue That’s Weird, Grandma with a free digital special on Thursday, August 5 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. PML will host an in-person viewing party at The Annoyance Theater, 851 W. Belmont Ave. (proof of vaccine required) in Chicago or guests may stream the show on Facebook Live.
The production will feature 20 digital stories that reflect the last 20 years of That’s Weird, Grandma, directed and performed by current PML company members, emeritus members and board members and hosted by company members Tom Malinowski and Laura McKenzie. Donations will be accepted, with all proceeds benefiting PlayMakers Laboratory’s arts education programming. For additional information, visit playmakerslab.org/events.
Over the past two decades, That’s Weird, Grandma has been performed year-round for the public on Monday nights at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Throughout the pandemic, the show has continued weekly virtual performances streamed via Patreon.
That’s Weird, Grandma features adaptations of stories written during PlayMakers Laboratory’s creative writing residencies in Chicago elementary schools. PML’s ensemble of professional actors, comedians and musicians bring the young authors’ stories to life as raucous sketches, songs and movement pieces, performing first for students in their schools and then year-round for the public at the Neo-Futurist Theater. These stories – from hilarious dialogues between unlikely characters to poignant pleas for social change – resonate with adults while celebrating the imaginations of young people.
Collaborators for the 20th anniversary production include Jillian Abinanti, Jen Allman, Juanita Andersen, Kaitlyn Andrews, Noah Appelbaum, Rebecca Jackson Artis, Ashley Bland, Bryan Bosque, Lizzie Bracken, Brennan Buhl, Beth Bullock, Kaylyn Carter, Nancy Casas, Brandon Cloyd, Nick Crothers, Ida Cuttler, Linsey Falls, Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, Emjoy Gavino, Sonia Goldberg, Colette Gregory, Aissa Guerra, Erica Halverson, Mary Winn Heider, Gaby Hirsch, Jen Johnson, Halena Kays, Cedar Larson, Arielle Leverett, Diana Lawrence, Robbin Major, Tom Malinowski, Philip Markle, Jonathan Mastro, Marika Mashburn, Laura Mckenzie, Meredith Milliron, Shá Norman, Lee Peters, Mo Phillips-Spotts, Kristala Pouncy Smart, Jason Sperling, Kayla Pulley, Jonathan Lee-Rey, Geoff Rice, Joseph Schupbach, Zoe Schwartz, Brad Stevens, Graig Tertulien, Mary Tilden, Gwen Tulin, Rawson Vint, Rachel Wilson, Bhak Yongwoo and more. The production also features stories previously created by Breda Arellano, Kurt Chiang, Gavin Damore, Oona Hatton, Marika Mashburn, Jonathan Mastro, Deanna Myers and Mike Tutaj.
About PlayMakers Laboratory
Since PlayMakers Laboratory’s inception in 1997 as Barrel of Monkeys, its teaching artists have served more than 60 Chicago Public Schools. Over 15,000 elementary school students have participated in the PlayMakers programs, which aim to build students' writing skills, improve self-esteem, and instill confidence in their ideas and abilities.
PlayMakers Laboratory is sponsored in part by Wintrust Financial, Allscripts, Inc., Ernst and Young and Punchkick Interactive. It receives generous support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; the Chicago Community Trust; Crown Family Philanthropies; Alphawood Foundation of Chicago; the Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation; Polk Bros Foundation; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; the Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.; The Saints; The Topfer Family Foundation, and many other generous individuals and foundations.