top of page

Laertes Word

Laertes Word
Crime is easy. "Hamlet" is hard.


Written & performed by James Word

Directed by Rachel Tibbetts

Assistant Directed by Summer Baer

Dramaturgy by Nick Ryan

Lighting Design by Erik Kuhn

Videography by Lucy Cashion

Co-produced by Prison Performing Arts and The Coldharts

James Word has been acting all his life; he just didn’t know it – that is, until he’s cast in his first play – while serving a 30-year sentence at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. This is the story of how 'Hamlet' changed his life.


"Laertes Word," the first solo storytelling piece by James Word, is a story of tragedy and redemption; of a man who spent much of his young life trying to be many things to many people, seeking to fit in, and becoming utterly lost. Until one day, when he walks out of the prison yard and into the role of Shakespeare's "Laertes."

These performances are the World Premiere of Laertes Word, followed by a run at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.


James Word is an artist and storyteller based in St. Louis. His mission is to help people understand that it’s never too late: they can change their life for the better and live a joyful life that they can be proud of. This is his first collaboration with PPA as a returning citizen.

For over two decades, Prison Performing Arts has helped prisoners, returning citizens, and justice-involved youth build second acts through engagement with the arts.


The Coldharts is a touring theater company founded by Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan in Brooklyn, New York in 2012.

bottom of page