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Shakespeare's Players

Nicholas Tooley (c. 1583 – June 1623) was a Renaissance actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare.
 
Recent research has shown that Tooley was born in late 1582 or early 1583; his birth name was not Tooley but Wilkinson. (In 1623 he signed a codicil to his last will and testament "Nicholas Wilkinson, alias Tooley.") He has been associated with the "Nick" in the surviving "plot" of The Seven Deadly Sins, dated c. 1591. The association, if accurate, indicates that he began as a boy player. He was apprenticed to Richard Burbage, and may have followed that actor to the Lord Chamberlain's Men when that company re-formed in 1594. Tooley is mentioned in a letter of Joan Alleyn, Edward Alleyn's wife, in 1603, and he received a 20-shilling bequest in Augustine Phillips's 1605 will. He became a sharer in the King's Men in 1605, replacing the short-lived Samuel Crosse.
 
Little is known about Tooley's specific roles for the company. He appears in speech prefixes in the First Folio text of The Taming of the Shrew, and in the cast lists for Ben Jonson's The Alchemist (1610), Sejanus (the 1610 revival), and Catiline (1611). In the revival of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi staged shortly before his death, he played Forobosco and a madman.
 
 

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