"The Nickel Shakespeare Girls captivated audiences better than anyone else performing at the Folger Shakespeare birthday celebration" 


-- Jim Bovard, award winning author and writer for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post

Meet the girls

The Nickel Shakespeare Girls started in 1999 at the North Carolina Renaissance Faire where Carmen and a group of students were cast members for the first time.  They realized that because of their varied theatre backgrounds they knew speeches from several of the Bard's plays, so they began interacting with patrons by offering them their choice of a small rock or a bit of Shakespeare. 

 

After giving away quite a lot of rocks, they sat down to rethink their strategy.  They realized that it might be more appealing to offer a speech from ANY one of Shakespeare's plays so they set out to encompass the entire canon.  Then they ramped up the clowning aspect, added some hand-balancing and stage combat, and began asking for nickels (or any denomination higher) for their hard work.  The high energy and unusual, quirky presentations made the newly named Nickel Shakespeare Girls unforgettable.

 

In 2006, Carmen decided to take the act on the road and developed it into an internationally known, award winning troupe.  At present, we dispatch 2-3 girl troupes from our base in Raleigh, North Carolina! 

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Carmen Mandley (Creator, Founding Artistic Director)

Carmen-maria attended National-Louis University in Chicago Illinois and continued her training at Shakespeare & Company, studying with master teachers and scholars such as Tina Packer, Dennis Krausnick, Susan Dibble and Kevin Coleman. She then continued her training at the Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre with Master Clown teacher Ronlin Foreman. She has been actively directing, teaching and performing Shakespeare for more than 20 years. Bringing the physical, textual, and spiritual to Shakespeare’s works is her passion. Recently an educator/actor at Shakespeare & Company, she is now the Education and Literary Manager at Portland Stage Theatre in Maine.  She is exhilarated to be able to bring this work to all who are willing to play. She thanks her partner in crime, Rebecca, as well as all of those who have helped us along the way.

Photo by Kevin Hedgecock Photography

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Rebecca Blum (Artistic Director)

Rebecca grew up in rural North Carolina . Unlike most of the students in her high school English classes, she fell for Shakespeare just as Romeo fell for Juliet. She studied theatre at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC and, though her career mostly focused on contemporary works, she was first able to perform in a few student Shakespearean productions. In 2005, she began working as a principle player with Bare Theatre in Raleigh, NC . She is most proud of her performances as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (a dream come true), Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Emilia in Othello.

Paying bills and creating a family have taken priority over pursuing a career in performance, but she is ecstatic to have a creative outlet in the Nickel Shakespeare Girls. She joined the troupe in 2006. Performing Shakespeare for those who already love the Bard is wonderful, but nothing compares to evoking joy from those who previously thought Shakespeare was best left on a shelf gathering dust. She is forever grateful to Seth, Eowyn, Havana, Scarlett and Carmen for indulging this love of her life.

Photo by Kevin Hedgecock Photography

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Spencer Powell (Managing Director) is a 2011 graduate from Meredith College where she received a BA in theatre, concentrating in musical theatre.  While pursuing a degree in musical theatre, Spencer represented the Meredith College Theatre program on multiple occasions at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival as an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominee as well as performed with the Raleigh Symphonic Orchestra as a winner of the 2011 Concerto Aria competition.  Her favorite roles at Meredith College include the stunning historic figure Nell Gwynn (Playhouse Creatures, April de Angelis).  Spencer later published her honors thesis based on the life and works of the remarkable actress.  Upon completion of her degree, Spencer went on to perform with the cast of the Tony Award winning Lost Colony in the choir and in the role of Jane Jones.  She now spends works with Autistic children, teaches theater, and is thrilled to fulfill her artistic passion as a member of the Nickel Shakespeare Girls.

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Joanna Herath joined the Nickel Shakespeare Girls ensemble in April 2012.  She can also be found on stages across the Triangle.  Her recent performances include The Leader, One Night of Absolute Dismay and Much Ado About Nothing (Bare Theatre) Creeds (The Playground), Noises Off! (Theatre in the Park), Oh Baby! A Cycle of Fertility Plays (FATE), Ruby Red, Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Love Bits & Bites: The Sixth Sense (Cary Players).   In November 2012, Joanna completed a term on the Cary Players Community Theater Board of Directors.  Her previous acting experiences were with Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA and Project Challenge Playhouse in Anderson, SC.  When she is not performing, Joanna serves as the Service Line Administrator for the Division of GI and Hepatology at the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals.

Photo by Scott Suter

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Tara Pozo is a native of Raleigh, NC and one of the original NSGs. She graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, with a BA in Education and her teaching license for Elementary Education. She began her training at Raleigh Little Theatre where she first met Carmen and learned Shakespearean Clown technique. She followed Carmen to the NC Renaissance Faire and Bare Theatre where she performed in twelve productions including roles such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Brutus in Julius Caesar, and Feste in Twelfth Night. She continued her passion for theatre at Hampshire College acting as Secretary for Theatre Board, and performing in college productions including Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Taraalso used her comedy skills with the Natural Disaster Club, Hampshire College’s longest running improv troupe. She worked in MA schools and after school programs with children and teachers as the assistant to the Executive Director of Enchanted Circle Theater.

Photo by Kevin Hedgecock Photography

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Bev Schieman graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Communications, received her MED in Education from UNC-Greensboro, and is close to finishing her PhD in Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. Some of her favorite performances were in The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and the zombie/Shakespeare mash-up William Shakespeare's Land of the Dead. She is also a director, working on productions of Cymbeline, Two Noble Kinsmen, and Measure for Measure.

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Tara Nicole Williams is a proud mother of a litter of Shakespearean named animals. She's also the proud owner of a car who is named after a suspected muse of the bard. Needless to say, she's got a thing for ol' Willy. So when she was asked to join the coolest kids in town, she sewed her own knickers in honor of the occasion. Now she's super basing all the other bases...cause she's all about that base. And she's so thankful to be a part of this amazing group of talented and inspirational women. "How far [this] little candle throws [her] beams"? We shall see.

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Eowyn Blum is so excited to be a Nickel Shakespeare Girl in training aka a Penny Shakespeare Girl.  She debuted in her first Shakespeare production at the tender age of 11 months as the Changling Child in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  She began reciting speeches from Henry 5, Hamlet, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet at 2.5 years old (around the time her mom became a NSG) so she was ready for her first speaking role as the prince in A Winter's Tale with Bare Theatre in 2010.  An established Shakespeare lover, she requested a Shakespeare theme for her 8th birthday party.  Her favorite part of being a Girl is being upside down!

Photo by Richard Rose

 

Girls from the past:

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Caroline Calkins is having a great time playing with the NSG Berkshires crew of awesome ladies. This summer if you go to Shakespeare & Company you will find her wearing her fairy wings in the woods or running around on the Rose Footprint Theater. Caroline is an actor and teaching artist hailing from Gloucester, MA. She graduated from Brown University with a BA in Theatre Arts and has also studied at Shakespeare & Company and the National Theatre Institute. She is grateful to all the other sisters in stripey socks for continuing to spread the mischief.

Photo by Enrico Spada

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Elizabeth 'Lily' Cardaropoli is excited to be a part of this Shakespeare Sisterhood! When not in a bodice and puffy pants, Lily can be found as the Assistant to the Director of Training at Shakespeare & Company. Lily graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a BA in Theatre and Arts Management. At MCLA she was a part of Yorick (The Shakespeare Club) all four years. Some of her favorite Shakespeare roles she has played include Ophelia in Hamlet, Lavinia in Titus Andronicus, Desdemona in Othello, Celia in As You Like It, and Lucentio in The Taming of The Shrew.

Photo by Enrico Spada

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Maura Clement first fell in love with Shakespeare when Carmen cast her as bloody, bloody Macbeth during camp the summer she was 15. She began to tour with the Nickel Shakespeare Girls in 2007 and had great flippin' fun touring the southeast. Maura headed off to school and received a BFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. She plans to pack up her britches and her tap shoes and head where ever the work takes her. 

Photo by Steve Ross

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Samantha Corey(Team South) received her BA in Theatre performance from Appalachian State University. She has taught Shakespeare to kids in grades K-12. Some of her favorite recent performances were in Henry V (on trapeze), Molly SweeneyMetamorphoses, and Seascape. In her spare time she teaches low-flying trapeze and performs with a local circus studio.

 

Photo by Jason Raitz, Photographer

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Jessie Earl joins NSG this year and can't wait to don her stripy socks. Jessie is also an Educator, Stage Manager, and Company Manager for Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. Jessie's Shakespeare career started in New Hampshire with Advice To The Players where she also wore many hats. Jessie graduated from Plymouth State University with a BA in Theatre Arts.

Photo by Enrico Spada

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Athena Garner (Team South) is a native of Raleigh with a degree in Theatre from Meredith College.  She cut her acting teeth on Shakespeare as a child and so is understandably thrilled to be a part of NSG.  Her favorite of the Bard's plays isTwelfth Night, which she has so far appeared in three times.  Athena adores NSG's devotion to making Shakespeare fun and accessible.

Photo by Richard Rose

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Anna Gettles started busking on the street as a Nickel Shakespeare Girl with Carmen-maria Mandley and Linnea Emigh. After the first year of NSG, Anna was hooked and performed on and off with these beautiful ladies for about 7 years. Anna has a BA in Theatre Performance from Appalachian State University and is now currently living and working in Portland, OR. Shouting Shakespeare to the sky while upside down is one of her most favorite things to do. One of her favorite Shakespeare quotes is "I fear too much rubbing, Good night my good owl". 

Photo by Ashley Gilleland

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Laura Jernigan is originally from the Raleigh, NC area, she joined NSG for a brief but wonderful time in her life. Laura grew up working with Carmen and was present at the birth of the NSG at their first NC Renaissance Faire. It has been absolutely amazing watching the girls grow and change into the amazing enterprise they are today. Laura is proud to have been a part of this group and continues to wow people with her ability to recite at least one speech from every play in Shakespeare's canon. And a few sonnets, too!

Photo by Andy Parks

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Caitlin Kraft is ecstatic to be a part of NSG up in the Berkshires! Caitlin is an educator and actor with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. She graduated from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI with a degree in Theatre, and has been working and clowning around in Shakespeare ever since. Her favorite roles include Pisanio in Cymbeline, Portia inMerchant of Venice, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.

Photo by Enrico Spada

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Diana Cameron McQueen is an actor, singer and model working in Raleigh. She's lived in over ten cities (so far), and had the privilege of beginning her acting career in Brooks, Maine, at Marsh River Theatre. Appearances include: Queen Elizabeth for The Lost Colony 2013 (the 76th year)out in Manteo, NC, Rosencrantz in The Marowitz Hamlet, Jo March in Little Women, Germaine in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Rhonda, Marcy and Waitress inAlmost, Maine, a clown researcher in Bare Theatre's The Leader, and Dr. Jason Posner M.D. in Wit. She's performed with Waterville Operahouse, ACAT, Bare Theatre, Koka Booth Amphitheater, HistoryStage, Lost Colony/RIHA and now Nickel Shakespeare Girls! She's excited to be a member of the troupe and can't wait to get out there and spread the words of the Bard far and wide, preferably upside-down!

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Kacey Schedler (Team South) was one of the "Girls" for several years. Dealing with "Macbeth thighs" after a weekend may have been a low point, but who can't fall in love with: being with the best Girls for some quality time (six hour car rides to Georgia), free-weight lifting exercise (Midsummer and Titus poses), and luxury outdoor living (listening to owls while snuggled next to another girl on an air mattress in the woods). She is so grateful to have been able to help bring the fun of Shakespeare to so many! While not lifting another girl over her head, Kacey works in the non-profit sector trying to save the world, and snuggles at home with her big dog, lovely husband, and adorable son.

Photo by Kevin Hedgecock Photography

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Susannah Skiver enjoyed a few brief, glorious days as an NSG in 2005, but often wishes her tenure had been longer. Since then she has lived in France, gotten a degree and worked at a nonprofit organization soliciting nickels (and checks) in a much more conventional, and much less fun, manner. She will soon travel abroad once again in search of further higher education, but would probably drop it all in a heartbeat to stand on her head reciting Hamlet. Vive les Nickel Shakespeare Girls!

Photo by Laura Jernigan

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Heather J. Strickland is the Artistic Director of Bare Theatre. She has been working with Bare Theatre since 2005 during which she has directed, performed in, choreographed and produced several productions including Titus AndronicusHamletA Midsummer Night’s DreamTwelfth NightOthelloThe TempestRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and The Crucible.

Heather received a degree in Theatre Arts from Flagler College and is a certified member of the Society of American Fight Directors, studying stage combat for over eight years under Fight Master Jeff A.R. Jones. Heather has worked with many local schools and performance groups as a Fight Choreographer and teacher, including Deep Dish Theatre Company, Ghost and Spice Productions, The Nickel Shakespeare Girls, Duke University, Durham School of the Arts, Durham Academy, East Chapel Hill High School and, of course, Bare Theatre.

Photo by Kevin Hedgecock Photography

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Alice Turner (Team South) has been an actor since she could talk, and a lover of Shakespeare since, well, middle school. She graduated from Elon University's BFA Acting program in 2010, and has been working in the Raleigh area ever since. Professional credits include: What Every Girl Should Know (Little Green Pig), My Name Is Rachel Corrie(Burning Coal), The Innocents (Commonwealth Endeavors), The Gaming Show (Urban Garden), Romeo and Juliet(Koka Booth Amphitheater), Titus Andronicus (Delta Boys), Nathan the Wise (Deep Dish), and Comedy of Errors (Bare Theater).

Photo by Greg Tarsa

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Rosa Wallace is native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Rosa began performing at the age of 4 in her church choir. She was heavily involved in educational and community theatre by the age of 11, and she continued that involvement during her attendance at WG Enloe High School for the Performing Arts. After dabbling in rock bands, visual art, and computer programming, the die was cast, and she subsequently earned her BA in Theatre with a Musical Theatre Concentration from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. Rosa has been living, working, and traveling at home and abroad for the past four years. She currently hails from New York, NY and prides herself on being adaptable and well-traveled. She spends any and all free time on her other real job as a singer/songwriter.

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Richard Butner

Richard attended his first renaissance festival in 2005, where he saw--or rather, experienced--the Nickel Shakespeare Girls. He found them enchanting, inspiring, and hilarious. In 2007 he joined the troupe, performing in the lanes at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. Or, actually, a two-year-and-seven-month-long dream. He's easy to spot: the Nickel Shakespeare Girl not wearing a bodice. Whether flapping his arms in a fairy ballet or rebuking the gods as King Lear, he is honored to promote Shakespeare power and girl power whenever and wherever he can.

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Sarah Schmitt

Olivia Griego

Gina Kelly

Kalyne Lynch

Katie Anderson

Amanda Stewart

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Linnea Mugford

Claire Wagner

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