Words & Pictures

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About

Playwriting. Writing. Teaching writing. Photography. Theatre. Travel writing. Wild writing. Off-leash writing. Musical theatre. 

zoom out

in which an anonymous narrator
summarizes my professional accomplishments
in laudatory terms

Tanya Shaffer is an award-winning playwright and author of the acclaimed travel memoir Somebody’s Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in AfricaHer plays Baby TajLet My Enemy Live Long!, Brigadista, and Miss America’s Daughters have been produced by major regional theatres such as Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and ACT Theatre (Seattle); received Bay Area Theatre Critics' Awards and been nominated for a National Theatre Critics' Association Steinberg Award; and toured to more than forty cities in the U.S. and Canada.

 

Tanya's musical The Fourth Messengera collaboration with composer Vienna Teng, enjoyed sold-out runs in Berkeley, Taiwan, and the New York Musical Festival (Check out the soundtrack album)She has also co-written two shows for the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Her stories and essays have appeared on Salon.com and in numerous anthologies.

 

Over many years as a regional theatre actor, she was privileged to perform with wonderful companies like the Old Globe Theatre, the California Shakespeare Theatre, TheatreWorks, and many others.  She is a former Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwright and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors' Equity Association.

 

 

zoom in

in which i tell you a few things
about myself and what i'm up to now
 

Last fall, I moved with my family from the San Francisco Bay Area to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I cut my hair short and dyed it shades of turquoise and blue to honor nearly thirty years of living by the ocean.

 

In addition to writing, I'm mom to two beautiful boys and two stunning dogs. One of my human children is on the autism spectrum. I'll explore some of the gifts and challenges of that journey, along with ruminations on creativity and more, in my blog.

 

Travel is a lifelong passion - I love roaming the earth and sinking into cultures other than my own. I'm also in a passionate, if complicated, long-term relationship with Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Since, as a parent, I don't get to wander as much as I used to, I try to approach everyday life with the same wide-awake quality that travel inspires. Success varies, but I keep trying.  Writing helps. So does photography. (Check out A Winter's Tale - my photographic exploration of the snowy Michigan winter.)

 

In January, 2017, I wandered into a workshop called Wild Writing, taught by the wonderful Laurie Wagner. I went because I thought it would be fun, and because my daily writing practice had fallen away. From the moment I walked into the room, which was filled with warm colors and light and smelled of coffee and cinnamon, I knew I’d stumbled across something truly special. Through this apparently simple process of listening, writing, reading, and bearing witness, I felt the full range of human experience enter the room. It was more than a writing practice – it was a living practice – and I was immediately hooked. I enrolled in the teacher training so that I could bring my own version of this extraordinary experience—Off-Leash Writing—to my community, both virtually and in-person. Learn more and sign up for classes here. 

 The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

 My hair in ocean colors

My hair in ocean colors

 Snow like ocean waves

Snow like ocean waves


Banner photo by Karen Shih.