Off-Leash Writing






**One of the Don’t-Miss-Shows of the 2017 New York Musical Festival**

-       Time Out New York

-       Playbill

-       Spoiled NYC


 “I absolutely loved The Fourth Messenger… This show helped heal a piece of me. I hope it finds producers and a home to show the power of our fragility and of our strengths. We need more shows like this to heal our world.”

Times Square Chronicles

“A work of wit, grace, and…enlightenment…Telling this story requires worldliness as well as soulfulness; miraculously, the cast, crew, and creators of The Fourth Messenger pull it off.”



With a strong score, interesting book and thoughtful lyrics…I was totally captivated and emotionally invested.”

Theater Reviews From My Seat


“A compelling story of redemption and release. The rich enduring themes of reclaiming and embracing one’s story, searching for and discovering the truth despite the costs, and the importance of accepting life’s challenges suffuse the show’s musical numbers…Under Matt August’s skillful direction, the cast delivers compelling performances.”

Theatre Reviews Limited


 “The music was haunting and the harmonies were complex and memorable.  The lyrics were clever and resonant and fit the moments beautifully…The second act delivered the emotional and intellectual payoff that playwright Shaffer was gunning for…”

Front Row Center


“By the end of the musical I was a complete puddle of emotion. This is an original musical that speaks to our need to find enlightenment in these troubling times.”

- Hi Drama



**One of the Top Ten Shows of the Year**


- Theater Dogs


“An exciting and ambitious project, driven by Teng’s eclectic score, Shaffer’s inspired rewrites of the Buddha story, and their punchy, provocative lyrics…Hilarious and moving production numbers… imaginatively staged by Broadway’s Matt August…An absolute delight.”

- San Francisco Chronicle


“Intelligent and skillfully crafted…A hugely ambitious and refreshingly original musical that demands the attention of any serious theatergoer…Driven by Teng’s propulsive score, Shaffer’s musical has the audience emotionally involved and on the edge of their seats…Teng is a fresh and exciting new theatrical talent with a distinctive voice of her own… Highly recommended.”

- The HuffingtonPost


“A satisfying and remarkably entertaining new musical that takes on spiritual life with wit and emotional resonance… Funny and touching in all the right places…[The Fourth Messenger] seems sure to catch fire if the outside world gets a chance to hear it.”



“The Fourth Messenger is a triumph…Beautiful, ambitious and with the kind of depth we’ve come not to expect from musicals…Compelling from beginning to end… Shaffer’s book brims with intelligence and wit and Teng’s music feels rich in original ways, full of melody and intricacy… It’s time for The Fourth Messenger to…share its own nirvana with a much wider audience.”

Theater Dogs


“An exceptional new musical… unique and captivating… Shaffer’s masterful and compelling story, both timeless and contemporary, puts a fascinating spin on the idea of a Buddha-like sage negotiating the sort of headline scenarios that make up today’s world…The Fourth Messenger strikes a balance of passion, intensity, light humor, profundity and quiet, almost serene, resolution…”

- Stage and Cinema


“Profound and profane, combative and compassionate, The Fourth Messenger has everything and more for a musical worth seeing… Teng’s complex harmonies and inspired melodies …stick with you long after the curtain goes down… “

- Art Animal


“With a lively book and lyrics by Tanya Shaffer and a collection of stirring songs by Vienna Teng, Messenger delves into the world of self-proclaimed gurus, whose virtuous charisma may, or may not, be justified by their private lives.

- Pacific Sun



**One of the Top Ten Shows of the Year!**

- San Francisco Chronicle

- Oakland Tribune

- San Jose Mercury News


A captivating inquiry into love and freedom... Thrives on a witty, probing clash between freethinking modernity and tradition."

- San Francisco Chronicle


“A bundle of cross-cultural joy… Marries the breezy cynicism of the now with the eternal power of India…[Shaffer's] ear for mod-groovy lingo gives the play a to-die-for sparkle.”          

- Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News


“Filled with a savvy traveler's enthusiasm for the cultural and historical rewards of her journey.”

- Chad Jones, Oakland Tribune


“Depicts the characters in all their contradictions and with such clarity that the humorous result is full of delicate reflections on caring and family.”

-  Silicon Valley Metro


“It's refreshing to come across a playwright who is able to write so honestly about life... Witty, poignant and frequently funny... It's hard not to get swept away.”

-  Mountain View Voice


“Provocative and true, laced with snappy dialogue.”

- Palo Alto Weekly


“A beautiful play… ...[Shaffer] has brilliantly integrated theatricality through the story of...the building of this famous fairy tale palace.”

- Richard Connema, Talkin’ Broadway


"****... Perfectly spiced with quirky characters, humor, and romance.”

- Janet Bein, Tango Diva


Somebody's Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa

**One of the Best Books of the Year**

- San Francisco Chronicle

"Perhaps the best of [recent] adventure books penned by women... These incredible characters...form a vivid pastiche."

- Vogue


 “[Shaffer] writes essays with knife-sharp perception…She captures the details that tell the larger story about Ghana and Africa, a place of stunning beauty, shocking poverty and loving people so often ravaged by violence and disease.”



" [Shaffer’s] observant recollections clarify her intimate, soul-searching journey and give texture to the narrative, with a candor and tenderness that render it immediately accessible.... Shaffer's focus is on the people she meets, colorful Ghanaians whose stories and actions bring present-day Africa alive."

- San Francisco Chronicle


“Shaffer is a natural storyteller and she evokes the villages she visited and the people she met masterfully. Readers…will be enthralled by her tales.”

- Booklist


“A wonderful light touch... Shaffer walks through the world with the most delightful, open fluidity."

- Los Angeles Times


"There is an exuberant and frank quality about Shaffer’s writing that will have readers booking flights to West Africa."

- The Skanner

“An adventurous memoir…described with humor, feeling, and vivid detail.”

- Library Journal


“Shaffer's vivid memoir captures scenes of Kenya, Mali and, most notably, Ghana, rarely seen by American tourists…Her tales are rich in visual and cultural explication; villages and hamlets too tiny for names come to hot, vibrant, scent-laden, insect-thrumming life.”

- Publisher's Weekly


Let My Enemy Live Long!

**Winner!  Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Award for Solo Performance**    


"Riveting, funny, and life-affirming."

- American Theatre Magazine


"...A bright, lively, moving and beautifully performed monologue, as captivating as it is gently but insistently thought-provoking. ....Beautifully supported by elegant, eloquent percussion and string accompaniment, Shaffer creates vivid, instant portraits of the men, women and children that populate her tale.... Through all its comedy and conflict, "Enemy" subtly raises questions about racism and privilege that leave a provocative aftertaste."

                                                            - San Francisco Examiner


"...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. ..."

                                                            - San Francisco Chronicle


"***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."

                                                            - Oakland Tribune


"A smooth, seductive, and thoroughly entertaining evening of theatre."

                                                            -Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union-Tribune


"Touching, funny, exciting, well-written, satisfying... A damn fine evening."

                                                            -Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle (columnist)


"...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."

                                                            - San Jose Metro


"A wonderful surprise... (Shaffer) seems to strip off her Western veneer and reach the core of such issues as racism, guilt and betrayal... "

                                                            - San Jose Mercury News


"Storytelling at its best!"

                                                            - Seattle Post-Intelligencer



Banner photo of Tanya Shaffer and Vienna Teng by Cheshire Isaacs.