Tanya Shaffer: Writer, Performer, Traveler
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"Suffering from burn-out, I decided to take a year off and volunteer in West Africa... Just before I left, I appeared in a reading of Octavio Solis' play "Santos and Santos" at the Magic, sharing the stage with some phenomenal actors. The language crackled and sang, creating a vibrant, muscular rhythm. It was exhilarating and confusing. Confusing because, although "Santos" could certainly be considered a political play, its effect on me had little to do with message, and everything to do with artistry. The miracle of language in the mouths of fine actors made me revise my worldview."
- "The Circle Game"
In addition to her solo work, Tanya has starred in productions ranging from musicals to Shakespeare to experimental new work. Companies she has performed with include San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, the California Shakespeare Festival (now called California Shakespeare Theatre), TheatreWorks, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, the Willows Theatre Company, the B Street Theatre, Pacific Repertory Theatre, El Teatro de la Esperanza, and many others. She also spent several years touring children's shows to hundreds of schools in California and South Carolina. Favorite roles include Maria in "The Sound of Music," Isabella in "Measure for Measure," Lady Percy in "Henry IV, Part 2," The Woman in "Scotland Road," Lala in "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" (for which she won a Dean Goodman's Choice Award for Principal Performance), and Jackie in "Jackie: An American Life."
View Tanya's Acting Resumé
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MENTOR'S CORNER:   Read a Q & A with Tanya from the website Myroad.com about choosing a career in theatre.
For "Come, My Beloved" (A Traveling Jewish Theatre)
"Tanya Shaffer is magnetic as the young woman. Pensive or joyous, flushed 'in the fever of love' or enticingly sensuous in a solo dance, she captivatingly depicts the surprise, fears and delights of passion."
- Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
For "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" (TheatreWorks)
"Shaffer gives a fine, emotionally naked performance. She sees right into Lala's obtuseness, whether she's callow or sulking or raging at her cousin for dressing too nicely at Lala's father's funeral: 'That was supposed to be my tragedy.'"
- Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
For "Much Ado About Nothing" (California Shakespeare Festival)
"As Lady Margaret, Tanya Shaffer is fresh and exuberant. But her quiet shame when she realizes she's been the pawn in the plot that undoes her mistress is eloquent in its understatement."
- Mari Coates, SF Weekly
For "Under Milk Wood" (TheatreWorks)
"Here is what I will take from it: …the pure sex appeal of TheatreWorks newcomer Tanya Shaffer, whether as Captain Cat's Rosie, the self-repressed schoolteacher Gossamer Beynon, or the wild gypsy-woman Mrs. Dai Bread Two…"
- Michael J. Vaughn, Palo Alto Weekly
For "The Sound of Music" (Willows Theatre Company)
"An astoundingly talented cast… Tanya Shaffer plays Maria as a sassy sort of young woman who wears the novice's habit like an uncomfortable pair of shoes… When she doffs the habit…her entire personality quickly sparks into high gear."
- Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times
For "Pericles" (Pacific Repertory Theatre)
"Tanya Shaffer brings sweetness, strength, and wisdom to the nicely drawn role of Marina, the daughter who endures an attempt on her life and bondage to a bawdy house."
- Barbara Rose Shuler, The Monterey County Herald
For "Scotland Road" (Old Globe Theatre)
As The Woman, "Shaffer centers the piece with a stillness and femininity that become seductive."
- Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union-Tribune
For "Measure for Measure" (Contemporary Shakespeare Company)
"Tanya Shaffer makes a lovely Isabella*; she's sweet and demure but passionate in her moral convictions."
- Dean Goodman, Drama-Logue
*Critic's Award for Outstanding Performance
For "Breaking Up" (B Street Theatre)
"Johnson and Shaffer…hurl themselves into Cristofer's torrents of speech and emotion. They honestly capture the Sisyphean seesaw of ecstasy and anguish that fills in the space between making up and breaking up."
- Karen D'Souza, Sacramento Bee
For "Scapin" (California Shakespeare Festival)
"Shaffer is a delightfully dimwitted Bo Peep of a Giacinta, a walking, baby-talking, badly spoiled doll of an ingenue."
- Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Examiner
For "Scotland Road" (Center Rep)
"'Scotland Road' blooms after intermission, helped in good measure by Shaffer's forceful performance."
- Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
For "Voir Dire" (TheatreWorks)
"Shaffer, as a prim transplant from Nebraska, gets her smug assumptions tattered in a well-played scene."
- Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
For "Breaking Up" (B Street Theatre)
"Shaffer and Johnson, two talented actors, save the day. They have good stage chemistry-full of fun and playfulness and dueling repartees, and they make us care about their future, whatever that may be."
- Staff, Sacramento News and Review
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