Young actress soaring high alongside theatre bigwigs

Young actress soaring high alongside theatre bigwigs

By Melissa Cohen

My first impression of Ella Gabriel as we formally introduced ourselves was that of a shy, quiet girl – a real girl-next-door type. As the coffee flowed, Gabriel transformed into the confident and extremely passionate professional that has captured the theatregoing public’s attention right in front of my eyes. The twenty two year old aspiring actress has catapulted herself in to the limelight with one of Cape Town’s legendary comedic playwrights, Nicholas Ellenbogen. I quickly learned that this girl has talent, is driven for success and has an indescribable presence that resonates after only a few minutes of chatting.

Gabriel recently graduated from the University of Cape Town where she studied Theatre and Performance. Although her commitments lie firmly with theatre now, she, until recently, had been undecided about her life plans. “When I was younger I used to want to be everything. I went from wanting to be a detective to a musician, although I have always had a love for acting,” she says.
Throughout her varsity theatre experience and training, Gabriel was chosen for various small, supporting roles in various university productions. “Although I wasn’t chosen as a lead, I am still very grateful that I was given the opportunity to experiment with different roles. This was able to enhance the level of passion that I have for theatre and performance.”

Last year saw Gabriel’s “big break” as she played Blanche in the UCT production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. During that time she was scouted by Ellenbogen, as well as the director of the acclaimed production ‘The View’. She eventually landed herself the two lead roles alongside some of the most experienced and celebrated actors Cape Town has to offer. “I am so honoured to be working with some of the best names in the business. Although it is extremely terrifying at times, it is also very exciting to know that my dream is coming true,” says Gabriel, who by now is talking non-stop and with great ease after a rather tentative start to our interview.

This young actress has really shown her worth as she has been nominated for two Fleur du Cap awards in 2013. “Although I didn’t manage to win the awards, it still feels awesome to know that I was chosen out of so many other great performers. Sometimes I find that I almost have to pinch myself as this whole experience feels like a dream to me,” says Gabriel.

The actress can currently be seen alongside Ellenbogen in ‘Raiders: The Whiskey Trader’, the latest entry by the theatre maker in the long running comedic series. Audiences can catch the fun filled romp at Ellenbogen’s new venue, The Rosebank Theatre. “The theatre is really unique as it is really intimate; it only seats about 40 people. It is a homemade theatre that was actually made from scratch by the Ellenbogen family and is a perfect place for young talent to get exposure and become recognised in the theatre world,” explains Gabriel.
Ellenbogen plans to take the show to the Edinburgh festival later in the year, which should lead to even more exposure for Gabriel. So it is best you go and watch the show before it takes off internationally.

Even though Gabriel is going places in the acting world, she comes across as a really humble person who is giving her all in every acting experience that she is offered. “I must admit that sometimes I get scared, but my aim in life is to remain focused and determined and ensure that whatever I do is fun and exciting,” says the artist.

* The Rosebank Theatre is situated on 16 Alma Street, Rosebank. For more information, send an email to
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