BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas. For a more comprehensive perspective, check the BmoreArt Calendar page, which includes ongoing exhibits and performances, and is updated daily.

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fools and madmen | Neighborhood Tour
Tuesday, May 22nd – Thursday, May 24th

Motor House / Cohesion Theatre / Mt. Vernon Place Church

fools and madmen is a mobile hip-hop adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. The show will be primarily toured to Baltimore City Public Schools throughout the month of May. There will also be three ticketed evening performances for the public to attend, located at three venues in three Baltimore City neighborhoods.

The goal of this project is to bridge the gap between Shakespeare and Hip Hop as artforms. The adaptation contains both classical Shakespearean text and original hip hop lyrics and music. The resulting show is a lyrical and rhythmic mash-up of classical and modern language, of poetry and music.

The project was created by Caitlin Carbone and Josh Thomas, who received the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts Creative Baltimore Fund grant to write and produce the show.

The show is performed in the round, to an audience of 40-70 people no more than two rows deep. The ensemble cast includes performers of diverse artistic disciplines – classical actors, modern actors, spoken word poets, and hip hop artists. The music is played live onstage by three musicians. The play has been cut to fit a run time of an hour and a half.

The fools and madmen Neighborhood Tour runs from Tuesday, May 22 through Thursday, May 24 at three locations in three neighborhoods in Baltimore City. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at

This project is funded by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts Creative Baltimore Fund.

For more information about the project and show, visit


Lynn Silverman: Still Light // Trace Miller: Cut from Nature | Opening
Wednesday, May 23rd · 6-8pm

Goya Contemporary
3000 Chestnut Avenue, Mill Centre #214 : 21211


Life or Theatre? — new work by Carly J. Bales
Thursday, May 24th – June 17th

The Annex Theater
219 Park Avenue : 2121

Life or Theatre?
Written and Directed by Carly J. Bales
Based on the life and work of Charlotte Salomon

MAY 24 – JUNE 17
219 Park Avenue

$18 – $25 General Admission
$7 Student ID / EBT Card Holders

Life or Theatre? explodes the work and subconscious of the 20th century expressionist painter Charlotte Salomon on stage, fusing her autobiographical prose and expressionist painting with classical music, cinema, and theatre into a singular expression of her self – a demand by a young woman to exist in a world that demanded otherwise.

Between the years of 1941 and 1943, Charlotte Salomon, an enigmatic young German-Jewish artist painted a massive autobiographical tome of 1299 individual gouache paintings chronicling her life in Berlin and exile to Cote d’Azur, France. The expansive work transformed her and the individuals in her life into characters in a melodrama, revealing a dark family inheritance of suicide and mental illness; secret obsessive loves; troubling personal relationships; and Salomon’s tumultuous struggle with fate to define her own destiny against the backdrop of Weimar and Nazi-era Berlin. In isolation, Salomon then edited the pieces down to 796 paintings with 340 vellum overlays of text and musical cues to create a unique visual work she called Leben? oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life? or Theater?: A Song-play) “This is my whole life,” she said giving the work to a family friend only months before her deportation and murder at Auschwitz.

This uncategorizable, ferocious body of work survives today and dark, unresolvable questions about Charlotte’s life remain. Was she embroiled in a secret affair with a family friend? Did she murder her abusive grandfather? How believable is her story? When does the line between truth and fiction become irrelevant? While Salomon’s work parallels that of the famed Anne Frank, and the scope of her work is the largest singular body of work by a Jew during the Holocaust, her legacy remains relatively unknown to larger audiences. However, “the themes of her work are compelling, pressing, and ever-relevant nearly a century later – a woman tackling and defining her identity on her own terms, battling her supposed social inheritance and fate, and confronting what it means to create in a destructive world,” says writer/director Carly J. Bales.

One hundred years after Salomon’s birth, Baltimore artist Carly J. Bales is realizing a new stage work called Life or Theatre? based upon Salomon’s short life and work. “The play builds upon and expands the intention of the source material as a deeply intimate and contradictory Gesamtkunstwerk – which is an ideal ‘total work of art’ melding poetry, music, and visual arts – by incorporating new and classical compositional music, filmmaking, poetry, philosophy, and visual art into a live performance piece that explores the deeper universal existential underpinnings of the work,” says Bales. “I wanted to grab the hands of audience members and plunge them down into the depths of her subconscious as she embarked on an Orphean journey toward the creation of herself through art. I’m very excited about my artist-collaborators helping me realize this vision.”

Known for highly inventive, multi-disciplinary performance work and her fearless approach to realizing her ideas, Bales is “a perfect artist to tackle the rich and complicated world of Salomon,” says Evan Moritz, Annex Theater’s Founding Artistic Director, “and we are thrilled to bring Bales’ first full-length play as a writer and director to our intimate space.”


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