King Lear - Louis B. Murray
Goneril - Charence Higgins
Regan - Shernā Ann Phillips
Cordelia - Dylan McKenzi
Gloucester - Cheryl J. Campo
Kent - Aladrian C. Wetzel
Edgar - Gino Abellanosa
Edmund - Drew Anderson
Fool - Mike Smith

Drummer - Josh Thomas
Guitarist - Justin Lawson Isett
Keyboardist - Matthew Ancarrow

Production Team:
Director - Mari Andrea
Assistant Director & Text Coach - Caitlin Carbone
Music Director - Josh Thomas
Stage Manager - Lydia McCaw
Fight Choreographer - Brad Norris

fools and madmen

Written and Adapted by Josh Thomas and Caitlin Carbone
Directed by Mari Andrea

Baltimore City Public School Tour:
May 14-25, matinees at various schools in Baltimore City.

Baltimore Neighborhood Tour:
Tuesday, May 22 at The Motor House
120 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Wednesday, May 23 at Cohesion Theatre Company
923 S. East Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224

Thursday, May 24 at Mt. Vernon Place Church
10 E. Mt. Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD 21202

fools and madmen is a mobile hip-hop adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, and will be touring to Baltimore City Public Schools and three performance venues in three Baltimore City neighborhoods this May. The goal of this project is to combat racial disparity in classical theatre, and 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 play 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. Carbone and Josh, in addition to sharing writing credits and respective creative roles on the production, are Co-Artistic Directors of the project and share the role of School Outreach Coordinator. Cohesion Theatre Company provided organizational support for the project, which has included fiscal sponsorship, rehearsal space, and administrative support.

“We wanted to produce Shakespeare in a way that we don’t often see it being produced, for an audience that we often don’t see it serving. Shakespeare is often perceived as an artform for an elite group of people, and it shouldn’t be. We believe that Shakespeare belongs to everyone, and everyone should have the opportunity to access, participate in, and own it,” says Caitlin Carbone. “There’s this huge racial disparity in classical theatre, and we felt like the best way to combat that is not only with representation in our cast, but with the voice of the story-telling itself.”

“Representation is huge for us because it has to be,” says Josh Thomas. “It is as important for theatre practitioners to tell stories that resonate with them as it is for diverse audiences to feel represented.”

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.

“By putting Shakespeare and Hip Hop right next to each other in the show, we hope we can bridge the cultural gap between the two artforms,” says Carbone. “Honestly, if you strip away all the production and cultural elements, the two artforms are exactly the same - they’re both just words on a page meant to be spoken out loud. And sometimes they both have really cheap jokes, really bawdy or violent lines, and sometimes they’re both truly profound and make immense statements about the human condition. The only difference is just a huge gap between the two artforms’ cultures - or, as we like to say, 400 years and an ocean,” says Carbone.

Thomas adds, “Shakespeare’s poetic stories have stood the test of time; Hip-Hop is the poetry of our time set to motion...I couldn’t think of a better union.”

fools and madmen has a School Tour run and a Neighborhood Venue Tour run. The School Tour runs from May 14-25 at various public schools in Baltimore City. The Neighborhood Venue Tour runs from Tuesday, May 22 through Thursday, May 24 at three different venues 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