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Work Samples


Cleveland, directed by Bales, is a dark, genre-bending comedy written by Mac Wellman. Part after-school special, part sci-fi horror, the play is like riding the waves of late-night television straight into outer space. Cleveland was named the Top Stage experience of 2016 in the Baltimore City Paper.


Bales co-wrote and performed in this adaptation of Matthew Thurber's cult comic series for the Baltimore Annex Theater. “One part American wholesomeness, one part latent oblivion, and two parts holyfuckingshit. [...] This play may be as close as some of us will ever come to seeing a Jack Smith theater/performance piece in the flesh.”

The Maids

The Maids
Bales was lead performer in this adaptation of The Maids. In it, Genet’s “whirligig of being and appearance” has spun out of control, pieces of his text have flung away like accessories in a manic cosplay, and the remembrance of the outside world is failing.


About Carly

Baltimore City

Carly Bales's picture
Carly J Bales is a performance artist, director, and arts organizer based in Baltimore. Her work explores femininity and gender dynamics, power and control, intimacy and strangeness, through performance, and often, a healthy dose of humor in media ranging from live performance and experimental theater to video and film. Since 2010, she has become "DIY theater’s most go-for-broke performer" and "an integral actor/performer in both the city's do-it-yourself theater and experimental performance art... more

Life or Theatre?

Written and directed by Carly J. Bales, 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.

  • A daring, experimental work of visual and aural bravado
  • This is the most engaging, provocative piece of performance art I have seen in some time. [...] Stunning and achingly beautiful, timely, relevant, poignant and poetic...
  • It’s compelling on many levels, capturing a struggle to define a self within imposed identities, all while trying to physically survive in a destructive world. It’s not a happy play, but it’s real and it’s important.
2018. Annex Theater | Baltimore, MD

Red Death

A lifeguard embarks upon an obsessive quest to find the origin of hate, the root of denial, and the basic human weakness that causes us to fear death - and finds it in Michigan. Carly Bales stars in and Cricket Arrison directs this strange murder mystery cum bureaucratic nightmare by Lisa D'Amour. The performances were designed for a roving audience of only twelve members per night.

2017. Late Night Theater Series | Baltimore, MD

The Tempest

A ship wrecks on this island that rests between galaxies – somewhere between the rational waking world and the magic dream world. Inhabitants from both these worlds collide as a sorcerer is now forced to confront their past life and conquer their deep-seated lust for vengeance. Bales performed the role of Trinculo in this beautiful rendition of Shakepeare's The Tempest.

  • A perfect marriage of Annex Theater aesthetics and stellar Shakespeare performances”
  • A beautiful piece of art… a much-needed dose of beauty
  • Unlike any [production of The Tempest] I’ve seen before
  • WOW!!! We saw The Tempest last week and we were BLOWN AWAY by the visionary directing and incredible cast. You did amazing work with a challenging script. We’re still talking about it a week later. Can’t wait to see more productions. Thanks for making top quality theater so affordable.
  • "Most entertaining of all is the drunken partnership formed by Margulies’ Stephano and Bales’ Trinculo"
  • "Bales’ physical comedy is spot-on" "[Bales and Marguiles] elicit laughter in every scene they touch."

2017. Baltimore Annex Theater | Baltimore, MD

2017. Best Design | Annex Theater | Baltimore Magazine


Bales was commissioned to adapt this play from Matthew Thurber's cult comic series, 1-800-MICE, alongside director Sarah Jacklin. This expansive and psychedelic comic series was transformed into a free-wheeling, anticapitalist satire seeped in dream logic and inspired by the aesthetics of exploitation film and the Theater of the Ridiculous. Bales also performed the role of Aunty Lakeford, a new-age megalomaniac bent on cultural dominance and immortality.

  • “One part American wholesomeness, one part latent oblivion, and two parts holyfuckingshit. [...] This play may be as close as some of us will ever come to seeing a Jack Smith theater/performance piece in the flesh.
  • [Bales’ performance] rides the knife’s edge that separates the deadly serious from the utterly preposterous, where you laugh at reality’s absurdities to keep from flinging yourself under a bus
  • "Taking on the challenge of adapting and staging a bizarre comic with a cult following like 1-800-MICE was a risk, but it is one that paid off beautifully. 1-800-MICE is a smart, absurd comedy that manages to be thought-provoking and topical while hurtling you through space at the speed of a meteor headed straight for Earth. Loosen your grip on narrative realism and go take this ride."


  • 2016. Baltimore Annex Theater | Baltimore, MD.
  • 1-800-MICE

    1-800-MICE, Annex Theater, Carly J. Bales, Baltimore
    Show art and documentation from 1-800-MICE

Stupid Ghost

Bales directed this world premiere from Chicago-based playwright, Savannah Reich. Walking the knife's edge between comedy and horrific tragedy, this piece was heavily inspired by teen melodrama films of the 1950's - 1980's, screwball comedies, and the different ghosts that haunt each of our lives. Featuring ghosts, doomed girls, dance numbers, possessed mothers, and the 1985 hit song, Head Over Heels.

More about the piece

The Ghost lived in the woods, Minding Her Own Business and definitely Not Haunting Anyone, until one day she saw a Pretty Girl and followed her home. It totally wasn’t even a thing. The Girl was probably not even going to notice.

Stupid Ghost is a dark comedy about ruining the lives of the people you love.


  • 2016. Baltimore Annex Theater | Baltimore, MD


Bales directed the sold-out run of this dark, genre-bending comedy written by Mac Wellman. Part after-school special, part sci-fi horror, the play was like riding the waves of late-night television straight into outer space. Commissioned for the Late Night Theater Series.

  • [Carly Bales is] our DIY theater’s most go-for-broke performer, who appears to have encouraged the cast to reach for the preposterous—and then see what might lie just on the other side of that.

2016. Psychic Readings | Baltimore, MD

2016. #1 Play | Top Ten Stage of 2016 | Baltimore City Paper

  • Cleveland

    Cleveland, Baltimore, Carly J. Bales, Mac Wellman
    Mother-daughter bonding between actors Cricket Arrison and Madison Coan.
  • Cleveland

    Cleveland, Baltimore, Carly J. Bales, Mac Wellman
    A mysterious man. Played by actor Evan Moritz.
  • Cleveland

    Cleveland, Baltimore, Carly J. Bales, Mac Wellman
    A gaggle of wholesome teen girls.

In Taking Space

A collaboration with dancers Noelle Tolbert and Alex D'Agostino. This durational, movement-driven performance piece was commissioned for ROOM, an exhibition of oversized inflatable sculptures, at MICA.

The piece explored the body taking physical space as an inherently political act -- both oppressive and emancipatory -- in response to the pure geometry forms in ROOM. The piece invited itself to evolution or deterioration over the night. Audiences asked to come and go, touch and not touch, witness or ignore. The performers at times slammed their bodies together, climbed atop each other, or became ensconced within the same oppressive structures within the space. The interactions became struggles between independence and dependence, power and weakness, failure and success, the individual and the group. The living sculptures they created rose and fell, supported and antagonized, ebbed and flowed.


  • 2016. ROOM exhibition. MICA | Baltimore, MD
  • In Taking Space

    In Taking Space
    Performers Carly J. Bales, Noelle Tolbert, and Alex D'Agostino created living undulating structures in the space of the exhibition.

Sin Eater

Strange intimacy and transgression transference. Closeness in the open. Participants are asked to pay a small fee. In exchange, the artist will eat their sins and absolve them of any guilt. Over time, the residue of the sins accumulate into a new form and body.


  • 2016. Labbodies Retrospective exhibition, curated by Ada Pinkston and Hoesy Corona. Spacecamp | Baltimore, MD
  • 2016. Fields Festival performance series, curated by Cricket Arrison. Fields Festival | Darlington, MD
  • 2014. Of screens, remainders, and holds..., curated by Andrew Glenn Shenker and Michael Benevento. Current Gallery | Baltimore, MD

The World is Round

Adapted from Gertrude Stein's children's novella, The World is Round combined Stein's non-linear narrative and playful lyricism into a new ensemble-driven piece with original music from Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner. This co-production between Annex Theater and Acme Corporation was directed by Lola Pierson and featured a "wildly dynamic ensemble cast".

2015. Performer | Annex Theater and Acme Corporation | Baltimore, MD

2015. Best Adaptation. Baltimore City Paper.
2015. Top Stage of 2015. Baltimore City Paper.
2015. Top Stage of 2015. Baltimore Sun.

New Rituals of Power

New Rituals of Power
Experimental collaborative performances with Emilia Pennenan.

  • Performances
    2016. Fable, for Parts and Pieces curated by Noelle Tolbert and Alex D'Agostino. EMP Collective | Baltimore, MD
    2016. Superwomen, featuring Marcelline for GRL PWR. The Crown | Baltimore, MD
    2015. Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring Michael Wasteney Stephens for Tidal Swell. EMP Collective | Baltimore, MD
    2015. Tidal Swell, for Tidal Swell. EMP Collective | Baltimore, MD

soft. pricking. painful.
A seduction. A danger. A trick. A soft, smothering obliteration. With Emilia
Pennanen and Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters.

  • Performances
    2015. The Sun is Softly Setting / the world it simply turns, curated by Michael Wasteneys Stephens. Penthouse | Baltimore, MD

We hope you enjoy our performance.
An absurdist cabaret of beauty, gender, and violence. With Jacob Budenz.

  • Performances
    2014. Femininity and the Feminine Image. Pulse Performance Series | Baltimore, MD
    2015. The Praxis Series. Little Berlin | Philadelphia, PA

hopelessly devoted 2 U
A site-specific work including bathtubs, beautiful ladies, ritual gone grotesque, and
the song stylings of Olivia Newton John.

  • Performances
    2013. LADYPARTS, curated by Alexandra “Rex” Delafkaran and Eames Armstrong. Aether Art Projects | Washington, DC

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Carly's Curated Collection

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