Tanya Shaffer: Writer, Performer, Traveler
Let My Enemy Live Long!
Written and Performed by Tanya Shaffer
Directed by and Developed with Amy Mueller
With Music by Baba Duru Demetrius
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"You know, I never really understood the way a boat sinks. You see, I thought, with the water coming in so slowly, it'd be at least a half-hour before the boat was really under. What I didn't realize is that when the weight of the water hits a certain critical mass, the boat just goes down."
Tanya Shaffer's solo show "Let My Enemy Live Long!" tells the true story of her journey up West Africa's Niger River to the legendary city of Timbuktu. When a tragic boat accident leaves the survivors stranded in a marshy, mosquito-ridden no-man's-land, they are forced to travel by canoe, relying on the generosity of nomadic fisher tribes for food and shelter. An unlikely trio of friendship springs up between Tanya (the only foreigner on the boat), a soft-spoken aspiring minister named Yaya, and a blustery former drug-dealer named Touré. Passion, friendship, guilt, and redemption intermingle in this startling, often hilarious tale of a white woman traveling in Africa. Acclaimed musician Baba Duru Demetrius accompanies the production on a variety of West African instruments.

"Let My Enemy Live Long!" was originally produced at Venue 9, a small theatre in San Francisco's South of Market district in 1998. Thanks in no small part to an enthusiastic column by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, the show developed a huge following, and ran for over six months in the Bay Area, moving from Venue 9 to the newly reopened Eureka Theatre to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where it attracted rave reviews and garnered a Bay Area Critics Circle Award for solo performance. It subsequently went on to successful productions at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre, and elsewhere.
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Selected scenes
  Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2000
  Directed by Amy Mueller
  Set Design: Mikiko Uesugi
  Musical accompaniment: Baba Duru Demetrius
Lighting Design: Richard Olmsted
  Costume Design: Keri Fitch
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*** Winner! Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Award for Solo Performance ***
FEATURE:   Read an article about Tanya and her work in the women's travel magazine Passionfruit.
INTERVIEW:   Read a Q & A with Tanya on Rolf Potts' Vagabonding website.
"Riveting, funny, and life-affirming."
- Belinda Taylor, American Theatre Magazine
"Touching, funny, exciting, well-written, satisfying... A damn fine evening."
-Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
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"...Bright, lively, moving and beautiFully performed…as captivating as it is gently but insistently thought-provoking....Through all its comedy and conflict, "Enemy" subtly raises questions about racism and privilege that leave a provocative aftertaste."
- Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Examiner
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"...A tour de force of observation and evocation. From the polite agonies of public bathroom etiquette on the open-air canoe to the sharp detailing of the African men and one African American woman she meets, Shaffer's "Enemy" is the next best thing to being there."
- Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
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"***1/2 Captivating; scintillating storytelling... A delight from beginning to end... Alive with cultural intrigue, existential quandary and good humor, Shaffer's "Enemy" is also a showcase of dynamic theatricality... Intelligent, illuminating theater."
- Chad Jones, Oakland Tribune
"A smooth, seductive, and thoroughly entertaining evening of theatre."
- Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union-Tribune
"...Hilarious, ironic and compassionate all at once. "Let My Enemy Live Long!" is not only intellectually stimulating and politically provocative, but also rivetingly entertaining, tackling issues of racism, religion and the search for meaning with exuberant humor and deep respect for human contradictions."
- Michelle Goldberg, San Jose Metro
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"A wonderful surprise... (Shaffer) seems to strip off her Western veneer and reach the core of such issues as racism, guilt and betrayal..."
- Mark de la Viña, San Jose Mercury News
"Storytelling at its best!"
- Leah Kohlenberg, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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"Powerful…takes the audience on an incredible journey of the human spirit."
- Mary Spicuzza, Santa Cruz Metro
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"A one-woman tour de force... Shaffer keeps us laughing as she weaves her tale around the themes of racism, guilt, and the search for self in the other."
- Jeanne Carstensen, SF Gate
"Shaffer triumphs... Treading lightly, and with a sense of irony, she touches upon themes of racism both in Africa and here at home, commenting wryly upon inexplicable cultural differences, and infusing all her characters with dignity."
- Jean Schiffman, Citysearch.com
"A delightful storyteller...Introduces a host of rich themes, from the fallacy of escaping oneself in a different landscape to the pervasive divisions of cultural assumptions...the live musical score by Baba Duru Demetrius is a great source of richness and charm."
- Brad Rosenstein, San Francisco Bay Guardian
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