September 24, 2013



Shanara Gabrielle is a midwest-based artist working in a wide variety of theatrical mediums. As an actor, director, musician, aerialist, and performer Ms. Gabrielle is keen to find these arts’ points of intersection and discover new ways to shape the future of the American Theatre.

Interested in creating new work, Ms. Gabrielle has been fortunate to work closely with playwrights, directors, actors, and translators on the premier of a number of new plays in the past year. She has also recently had the pleasure of exploring the great classics, from Shakespeare to Noel Coward.

Ms. Gabrielle has worked at theaters across the country including: The Guthrie Theater, Great Lakes Theatre, Northern Stage, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Metropolitan Playhouse, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Theatre for the New City, Hollywood Playhouse, Musicals Tonight, The Black Rep, American Heartland Theatre, Upstream Theater, and been an ensemble member at The Great River Shakespeare Festival. She has appeared in film, television, and commercials. She is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and Screen Actor’s Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

You can see more about Shanara by watching her slate

Artist Statement:

Actors are artisans. Theatre is a craft. A skill. It is not easy. I create representations of humanity. I seek truth. I am a theatre artist.

Actors must remain flexible, changeable even. Therefore, I believe in the task that is set before me: be it comedy, tragedy, musical, drama, classical, contemporary, devised, or new form.

I believe actors are athletes. Professional actors, like professional athletes should be at the top of their game, in peak physical form.

Language is a palpable force in our world. Words are action. I believe in the power of language.

I believe in entertainment. Entertainment is exciting, joyful, tragic, calamitous, terrifying, riotous, tactile. It amuses. It takes us outside of ourselves with spectacle and play.

I believe in new work. I believe in great work seen anew. I believe in classics. I believe in tradition. I believe in devised performance. I believe in re-imaginings.

Theatre promotes and exalts the practice of transformation. Transformation is change. Change is a good thing. I believe in transformation.

I am a Midwestern artist, from the center of this country that so often falls short in it’s artistic values and creative exports. Nonetheless, my heart is midwestern to the core. I believe in Roots.

The scramble of show-business diminishes the real work. How many shows you do, how much work you have lined up, does not create proper value as an artist. I believe in quality, not quantity, although I also believe that ample work over a long period of time makes for better work. Longevity itself is vital to creating great work in the theatre. The scramble, the business, and the wear-down are enemies of a long career in the Theatre. I believe in longevity.

Actors practice the highest form of empathy. Our job is to walk a mile (or 2 hours and 15 minutes) in someone else’s shoes. Our job is to do this without judgement and with full trust in the inherent goodness of the other. Lack of empathy errodes our society. I believe the best way to create an empathetic, compassionate society is to demonstrate empathy, to show it skillfully practiced, and to inspire others to practice it as well.

I believe in Uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is the place that helps me grow as an actor, helps me to push through human frailty, to create anew, and to discover what I uniquely can offer the world around me – what I can contribute to the swath of the American Theatre, the World of the Arts. Because I believe in Uncomfortable, I believe also in Failure. 

Gestation is important. I believe rehearsals should be long. That art should gestate. It takes 9 months, 10 really, to make a human. Why do we try to do it in 3 weeks?

I wish for my art to engage a conversation with the audience. A conversation that prods them to reflect, urges them to look at their own humanity, charges them to belly laugh with a stranger, and plants the seed of recognition in them of our shared humanity. I believe in conversations about the big things in life.

I think it’s wrong that I couldn’t afford to go to the theatre if my friends didn’t just always get me comp tickets. I believe theatre is for everyone. I also believe no one should be tortured by the theatre. Theatre should never allow you to nod off. It should require more. It should offer more.

Every artistic community needs leaders of artistic superiority, excellence in their fields. I strive to be one. I believe in artistic excellence.

We are meant to seek understanding in this world. To create order and space and fill that space. In the words of one of my favorite writers: to create Cosmos from Chaos. I believe in cosmos. I hope my work inspires others to create and re-create their own cosmos.

I believe in the likeness of all human beings. Only when we wholly understand our commonalities can we appreciate and be excited by our individuality. Only when we see others as we see ourselves can we aid, recognize, and save our human race. When we sit in the theatre (or maybe not…what other performance space could it be?), when we sit in the theatre together in the dark (or maybe in the light!…wouldn’t that be exciting?), when we sit in the theatre together in the dark with excited anticipation, this sitting together creates connection. In a world that prizes isolationism, shut-down, privacy, and separateness, it is vital to create spaces that nurture basic community, interaction, neighborlyness, public engagement, and commonality. I believe in likeness, wholeness of humanity.

I believe in the transformative powers of all creative arts. I value partnering outside of my specific artistic field – to inspire me, to drive me, to challenge me, to excite me. I seek to discover the points of intersection between these arts. I am interested in where color meets word, where landscape architecture meets set design, where aerial dance meets heightened theatre text, where LeCoq meets film, where Dvorak meets devised performance…

I am influenced by living a full life, by engaging in new adventures. I am influenced by challenge. I am influenced by the 90% of people I encounter that never go to the theatre. I’m influenced by the progressive work of many international companies exploring new models for theatrical performance. I am influenced by institutions exploring alternative forms of ensemble in the American theatre. I am influenced by humans. I am influenced by physical engagement. I am influenced by current events. I am influenced by history. I am influenced by Old Actors. I am influenced by extraordinary shows of technical skill. I am influenced by bad theatre, boring theatre, theatre seats full of homogeny.

I believe in making stories that create a bigger mind and a kinder spirit.

I believe in the Funky, the groove, the Blues of theatre, the belly, the guts.

With credit due to Ben Franklin, I seek to increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interests and to strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates.