While starting as a young actor in DC theatre, Gwen found herself frequently cast in roles that involved physical transformation, humor, and playing a variety of characters.   At about the same time, she got to know Sabrina Mandell and Mark Jaster, who were creating their own physical theater company.  The rest, as they say, is history.  She was first brought on board as a supporting character / stagehand for a remount of PRUFBOX that played at the Smithsonian Art Museum, then toured to Salem, MA.  Gwen then worked with the group occasionally thru the next few years, performing in Cabaret Coo Coo, the original Cabaret Macabre I and II, both remounts of Manifesto!

Happenstance Theater formed a permanent company ensemble in 2012, including the multi-talented Sarah Olmsted Thomas and Alex Vernon, as well as musician Karen Hansen. This group of six created many new works together and performed non-stop for many years.  Shows include: Cabaret Macabre III, Vanitas, Cabaret Macabre IV, Impossible! A Happenstance Circus, Cabaret Noir, Moxie! A Happenstance Vaudeville,  Threshold, BrouHaHa, Bon Voyage! A Happenstance Escapade, Slapstick Jukebox, Preposterous! A Pocket-Sized Clown Circus, BAROCOCO, and PANTHEON.  Musician Karen Hansen retired in 2018, and the group has since worked with guest musicians.

Gwen has been so delighted to work and tour with Happenstance, where she has found an artistic home she never imagined possible.  Performing together, Happenstance has travelled to many locations: New Orleans Fringe, the Capital Fringe Festival, the Acadiana Arts Center in Lafayette, the Arts and Ideas Festival in New Haven, the New York Clown Theatre Festival, the Next Now Festival at the Clarice, the Staunton Music Festival, The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Theater for the New City in NYC, Touchstone Theater, the Celebration Barn in Paris, Maine, and the legendary Bread & Puppet theater in Vermont.

Below are trailers from the majority of Happenstance’s new works.  You can see more over on their Vimeo page at https://vimeo.com/happenstancetheater – Please enjoy.







Slapstick Jukebox


Bon Voyage! A Happenstance Escapade


Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit


Cabaret Noir: 

Impossible! A Happenstance Circus

Cabaret Macabre


The 3rd Annual Cabaret Macabre

HAPPENSTANCE THEATER, founded in 2006, is a professional company committed to devising, producing and touring original, performer-created visual, poetic Theatre. Our ensemble has been developing work together since 2012. We are multi-talented performers who craft all aspects of our pieces from concept to realization. Under the Artistic co-Direction of Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell, we harvest imagery from the past and re-contextualize it in performances that address eternal themes of life, death, and the ephemeral. With the simplest means – movement, silence, theatrical clown, music, text, physical comedy and beauty – we seek to elevate the moment when the performers and audience meet, to lift the encounter beyond the daily and pedestrian into the realms of dreams, poetry, and art. Meaning is often discovered by happenstance.
More info: http://www.happenstancetheater.com/

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