What’s your deal? Who are you and what’s your story?

Well, my full name, which only a few people know, is Carmen-maria Consuela Jacqueline Mandley. I’m 43. I was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina but as I was a military brat I grew up all over the South, primarily in Florida. I am Costa Rican and American Indian. I celebrated my 22nd year of teaching Shakespeare in 2016. Teaching, directing, and performing Shakespeare has been my life’s work.

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Carmen appears as Amy in Sondheim’s Company. (Photo Courtesy of Burning Coal Theatre in Raleigh, NC.)

My love of Shakespeare began at Orlando Shakespeare when I was a kid; it blossomed at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts where I was a company member and taught, directed, and acted on and off for 14 years. I’ve started two small Shakespeare Companies (that are still going strong); as well as the first all-female American Shakespeare busking troupe which continues to tour nationally. I am also a playwright (nine plays and counting), all of which have been produced. I LOVE talking to people and hearing their stories. I’ve worked all over the country but always seem to land in New England. I guess, I’m home.

What are you most excited about in taking on this job at TAM?

TAM is already doing the kind of work that I want to do. The productions are carefully, mindfully, smartly crafted, and the artists who make these plays happen are wild, kind, and articulate thinkers. The Education tours and residencies provide students and other audiences in communities across Maine with opportunities to not only SEE Shakespeare and other great literature, but to be INVITED in in ways that are accessible, fun, and impactful.

What I hope to bring to TAM is enthusiasm for increasing engagement with our already bustling community. For instance, creating programming for area senior citizens, building deep and broad partnerships with area schools (starting with Monmouth Middle and High School classrooms), supporting the work of other non-profits through the arts, and using our resources to help Maine artists foster new work are a few of the new projects on the horizon.

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Carmen appears as Gus in Dumbwaiter. (Photo Courtesy of Bare Theatre, Raleigh NC.)

Why Shakespeare and community?

Shakespeare seemed to have his finger exactly on the pulse of what it is to be a human. If human were a verb, I would say he asks us to “human” more fully. There is unlimited capacity within his plays for anyone—ANYONE—to find a point of view and share their voice. The themes are universal, certainly, and accessible. Shakespeare can become a rite of passage for anyone who decides to investigate his words. He gives any community a specific, personal, human connection to themselves and each other.

Who is your role model, and why?

I don’t know if I have one role model, but there are many people I consider heavy-hitters in the mentorship area, and I’m happy to say they are also dear friends. First and foremost, Kevin Coleman, Tina Packer, and Dennis Krausnick the founders of Shakespeare & Company are three of my biggest mentors; followed soon after by Susan Dibble, Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, and Kristin Wold. These people challenged me to think wilder thoughts, to dig deep, to cultivate and apply craft, and to trust in the eventual and inevitable extraordinary results. In some ways—running away to the Shakespeare Circus at such a young age as I did—they were part of the village that raised me.

Nickel Shakespeare Girls event at the St. Georges Day Festival in Bermuda. (Photo by Kevin Hedgecock)

Nickel Shakespeare Girls event at the St. Georges Day Festival in Bermuda. (Photo by Kevin Hedgecock)

First impression of TAM?

My friend Max brought me to TAM for the first time to see Fool of the World and the Flying Ship. I was surprised to see so many good friends in the audience, and then I looked up. THE THEATER! I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I then proceeded to laugh, cry, and be moved the whole way through what was thought of as a children’s show, but was really—one of the smartest bits of theater I had yet to see in Maine.

What is your super power?

Bringing the truth forward. I’m also a saver of plants from dumpsters behind grocery stores.

Describe yourself in three alliterative words.

Aware, Alive, Adventurous

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