Shakespeare in Prison relies on a skilled, passionate team of facilitators, supporters, and advisors to provide the very best experience for our ensemble members.

This is that team.

King Lear, Frannie (as Cordelia), and Matthew (as Knight) in King Lear.

Matthew (as Feste) with Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Maria at work in the men’s ensemble.

Sebastian, Olivia, and Lauren (as Fabio/the Priest) in Twelfth Night.


+ Frannie Shepherd-Bates

Director of Shakespeare in Prison

Frannie is the founder, director, and lead facilitator of Shakespeare in Prison. Frannie began Shakespeare in Prison (under the auspices of Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, which she led from 2008-2014) as its sole volunteer facilitator and administrator, personally handling every aspect of the program. Since those early days, Frannie has worked with the women’s ensemble to develop the structure, objectives, and pedagogy of the program. In 2015, SIP moved from Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company as it dissolved to Detroit Public Theatre as it was founded.

In addition to her prison work, Frannie has served as Director of Programs for Detroit Public Theatre and Director of Education and Development for Water Works Theatre Company. She has directed productions and staged readings for Detroit Public Theatre, Williamston Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, Shakespeare in Detroit, Planet Ant Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Water Works Theatre Company, the Abreact, Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus, and the Roeper School. She has taught, directed, and/or coached for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company, and Royal Oak High School.

Frannie has been recognized for her work as an artist and arts advocate by the Wilde Awards (Critics' Choice 2013; Best of the Bard 2015; Best Play nomination 2016), the Pulsar Awards (Best Play 2017), and CBS Detroit, and she accepted an Arts Achievement Award on behalf of MGT from WSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. She has spoken about prison theatre at conferences such as Shakespeare in Prisons (2013), Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (2017), Art X Detroit (2015), and Human Rights Through Education (University of Michigan, 2013). She has been featured numerous times in local, regional, national, and international media for her work in prisons and as an artist.

+ Matthew Van Meter

Assistant Director of Shakespeare in Prison

Matthew Van Meter is an author, journalist, and educator. A graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University School of the Arts, he is overjoyed to return for a fourth season with Shakespeare in Prison. His writing about criminal justice and other topics has appeared in The Atlantic, Longreads, The Awl, Forbes, Friends Journal, Russia Magazine, and others. Currently, he is writing a book about the riveting story behind Duncan v. Louisiana, the landmark Supreme Court case that enshrined the right to jury trial for all, due out in 2019 from Little, Brown.

In addition to his work as a writer, Matthew has been involved for years in prisoner advocacy in Michigan, both with Shakespeare in Prison and the Michigan Criminal Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization. A lifelong Quaker, Matt has worked in various capacities with Quaker groups in Philadelphia.

Matthew has taught high school and college English in the United States and Russia, and taking new, fresh looks at Shakespeare has always been at the heart of his pedagogy.


+ Lauren Montgomery

Facilitator at WHV

Lauren Montgomery studied acting at Wayne State University from 2003 to 2008, where she earned an Alumi Association award, and was an apprentice and understudy at The Purple Rose Theatre Company from 2008 to 2010. Lauren has designed costumes for many productions in Metro Detroit, earning a Wilde Award nomination for her work on Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company's 2013 production of Soul Mates.

From 2010-2012, Lauren served as a board member for Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, helping organize fundraisers, monitoring yearly budgets, and attending monthly meetings regarding the functioning of the company. Lauren also worked with the children's theatre at Novi Civic Center from 2012-2015 as a stage manager and director. She is currently the wardrobe supervisor for Michigan Shakespeare Festival, where she has also designed Drivng Miss Daisy (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2011), and Henry IV parts I and II (2015).

Lauren has been a SIP co-facilitator since 2013 and attends meetings once per week throughout each nine-month season. In addition to theatre work, she has an associate's degree in human services, summa cum laude, and is currently studying psychology. She has spent time with Team Wellness Center in Detroit, doing theatre with adults with severe mental illness and cognitive impairments. Lauren has also worked with LGBTQ youth with Affirmations in Ferndale.

+ Emma Rodgers

Second Year Facilitator Apprentice

Emma is a research lab manager at the University of Michigan who is passionate about human development. In her free time, Emma enjoys instructing indoor cycling classes, going to the public library, and bothering her friends.

+ Kyle Stefek

First Year Facilitator Apprentice

Kyle Stefek is a performer, arts administrator, and experienced workshop facilitator. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he has supported several non-profit arts organizations in Ann Arbor and Detroit. He currently works with the amazing team at Detroit Public Theatre as the Development & Administrative Associate; since 2016, he has facilitated workshops with adolescents and their families on consent, romantic relationships, and sexual health.

Outside the hours of 9 to 5, Kyle fills his heart through his work in Shakespeare productions throughout metro-Detroit. Highlights have been Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew), Romeo & Juliet (Mercutio), The Tempest (Trinculo), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Flute/Thisby), and Hamlet (Guildenstern).

He’s grateful to have the opportunity to meld his love of Shakespeare with his passion for advocacy and change-making through meaningful dialogue, education, and art.

+ Maria Tejada

Second Year Facilitator Apprentice

Maria Tejada is a professional stage manager and lover of Shakespeare’s plays. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a BA in Theatre and Spanish. Her favorite productions as a student were performing in Hamlet and Bard To Go: All’s Fair… a traveling show of Shakespeare scenes for high school students.

Maria has worked at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., for six years, traveling with one production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Macau, China. She has also worked at several Michigan Theatres including Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, the Abreact and Planet Ant Theatre.

Alumni Advisory Council

+ Jessica Christopher

Jessica Christopher is an alumni member of Shakespeare in Prison. While an ensemble member of SIP, Jessica played multiple roles, including Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew, Iago in Othello, and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III. Jessica is currently the teen program coordinator of Extended Grace, a non-profit, grassroots social lab that builds community while solving problems. In the fall of 2019, Jessica will be co-facilitating a Shakespeare program for individuals in the LGBQT community, in which participants will use theatre and the works of Shakespeare to explore what it means to be human.

+ Nichole Frederick

Nichole Frederick is an aspiring actress and alumna of Shakespeare in Prison. She re-discovered her passion for acting during her four years in SIP, with roles such as Trinculo in The Tempest, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Emilia in Othello. Nichole began her professional artistic adventure in 2017. Since then, she has appeared in two commercials, several short films, a Sato48 Hour Film Challenge, and the concept trailer for the upcoming film Vincent's Vow. Nichole is studying acting with Acting for Real in Springfield, Missouri, and is a member of IMDBPRO. She also served in the armed forces for 11 years, culminating in one tour in Iraq.

+ Justin Greenlaw

Justin Greenlaw is an alumni member of Shakespeare in Prison and one of the Original 12, SIP’s founding ensemble at Parnall. During his time with SIP, he played Malcolm in Macbeth and Iago in Othello, becoming a mentor for the ensemble during its exploration of King Lear. Currently, Justin is pursuing his master’s degree in Public Health, intending to explore the intersection of public health, incarceration, and criminal justice issues. He plans to start a consultation business to help incarcerated individuals and their families through challenges of navigating the criminal justice system, including those of physical disability, mental illness, and deafness. Justin is excited to continue his relationship with SIP as a member of the alumni advisory council, offering whatever insight and guidance he can for a program about which he is truly passionate.

+ Asia Johnson

Bio to come!

Program Support

+ Hope Bernard

Support Costumer at SMT

Hope is a California native putting down roots in the Midwest. She has a passion for theatre and education and received her PhD in Theatre from Bowling Green State University.

After teaching theatre at the university level for several years, Hope started to miss the excitement of live theatre and transitioned to working in wardrobe. Hope worked in wardrobe positions at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, and Carowinds Cedar Fair Theme Park in Charlotte, NC. Currently, she is the Wardrobe Supervisor for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

Hope continues to publish and present academic research about the negotiation of space in performer/spectator relationships and how spatial dynamics make meaning in theatrical moments.

+ Kyle Fisher-Grant

Facilitator Emeritus and Research Advisor

Kyle studied acting and directing at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in Liverpool, England, from 2002-2005, where he received his BA (honours) and was the 2005 recipient of the Paul McCartney Human Spirit Award for service to the community.

In 2015, Kyle completed a Master’s Degree in Education in the Urban Environment with the Detroit Teacher Project at the University of Michigan Flint. He then taught mathematics (and a Shakespeare class!) at Henry Ford High School in Detroit and is now teaching mathematics at Ypsilanti High School.

Kyle is passionate about his work with Shakespeare in Prison and is developing ways to assign research-based and data-driven evaluation techniques to the work we do.

+ Patrick Hanley

Stage Combat Coordinator

Patrick Hanley is a very busy stage manager, fight choreographer, performer, and, now, facilitator with SIP. He earned his B.F.A. in Acting from Wayne State University, where he was on the Varsity fencing team for four years, including two as captain.

Patrick has facilitated at Parnall Correctional Facility and in Youth Arts Alliance workshops—and may do so again! He has worked with many Metro Detroit theatre companies, including Detroit Public Theatre, Matrix Theatre, Planet Ant Theatre, and Shakespeare in Detroit. He is Director of Education with Water Works Theatre Company. Credits also include years of working in educational theatre as fight choreographer, director, and producer.

+ Chuk Nowak

Official S.I.P. Photographer

Chuk Nowak is a Detroit/Ann Arbor-based photographer who considers himself "the most insider theatre outsider," bringing a uniquely acquired visual language to promoting and documenting stage productions. Chuk is humbled to be the eyes into the process of SiP, providing a document for the rest of us of the work being done. ALL of the photos on this page are by Chuk, many more of his SIP photos can be found by clicking here, and you can see lots of his other wonderful work by clicking here!

Many, many thanks to past facilitators Elizabeth Barnes, Catherine Coffey, Alastar Dimitrie, Ciara Garrett, Assata Haki, Bethany Hedden, Gaia Klotz, Dominique Lowell, Hannah Manela, Clearie McCarthy, Molly McGuire, Vanessa Sawson, Jamie Weeder, Sarah Winkler, and Emily Wilson-Tobin. Your passion, hard work, and dedication have been vital as the program has grown.

Thanks to Ashley Lucas of Prison Creative Arts Project, Niels Herold of Oakland University, and Curt Tofteland  of Shakespeare Behind Bars for the endless advice, support, friendship, and inspiration.

Thanks to all of the staff at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Parnall Correctional Facility, and the Michigan Department of Corrections for the incredible support that enables us to keep doing this work.

And, most of all, thank you to all of the peoplethose who are still behind bars, and those who are notwho have made this program what it is. We've shown up with books, ideas, and enthusiasm. All of the truly hard work has been yours.

Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside you.