Acting Team

Stephen Atkins

Stephen is a passionate and gifted teacher. For Blue Egg, Stephen teaches Adult Acting, Voice, Movement, and Performer training. Additionally, Stephen acts in an advisory capacity to Blue Egg regarding performance training and programs.

In teaching, Stephen draws on techniques form several methods to tailor the experience of the student and meet individual goals. His training is a mixture of physical and psychophysical methods including the Meisner Technique and Practical Aesthetics. He has also trained in studios that use the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, The Viewpoints and Meyerhold as well as voice and creative movement techniques.

Stephen’s 24 years of experience as an acting coach helps him to identify and target specific goals in your training and apply them to the big picture.

Read more about Stephen Atkins

In Canada Stephen has taught, directed and/or devised theatre for Capilano University, Simon Fraser University, Circus West, Main Dance and Tooba Physical Theatre Centre. In Australia He has worked with Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre, and Queensland University of Technology. He has also worked for short periods on Projects and workshops in London, Prague and Hong Kong. He is a theatre artist with experience in production for film and web-based media.

Stephen is the co-founder and Creative Director of Human Theatre Collective (HTC). HTC is a Vancouver-based arts society involved in community performance. Their approach is multi-disciplinary in training and creative development. Human Theatre Collective’s works consist of collaborative, devised theatre, performance and live art. Blue Egg is a proud partner of HTC.

Stephen has an MFA in theatre and film from Simon Fraser University and is currently undertaking doctoral research in the Creative Industries faculty of the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Raïna von Waldenburg

Raïna recently moved to Vancouver after having been full-time faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she taught a physical approach to acting based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski at the Experimental Theatre Wing for the past 17 years. Presently, Raïna is a sessional instructor of Acting in the Theatre Department of Simon Fraser University School for Contemporary Arts.

Founder of the Center for Embodied Performance Raïna has taught workshops in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. Trained under Stephen Wangh and Ryszard Cieslak (Jerzy Grotowski’s principal actor and protégée), Raïna served as research assistant and editor for Stephen Wangh’s book An Acrobat of the Heart: A physical approach to acting inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski, published by Vintage Press.

A performer in the downtown NYC experimental theatre scene for the past 13 years, Raïna has recently been nominated for the New York Innovative Theatre Award for her Outstanding Solo Performance in Oysters Orgasms Obituaries produced at La MaMa E.T.C. in December 2011. She has worked closely with director Zishan Ugurlu as principal actor in other productions at La MaMa E.T.C., including The Father, Request Programme, and The Last Supper, as well as Enescu and Youth (WFMT Live Radio Network/Romanian Culture Institute).

Raïna is a captivating and infectious performer with a remarkable ability to share her passion and knowledge. Click here to view clips of Raïna’s performances.

Gabriella Minnes Brandes, Ph.D

Gabriella (Gaby) has been teaching the Alexander Technique since 1988. She is the co-director of the Vancouver School of the Alexander Technique and teaches the Alexander Technique in the Theatre Department at Capilano University. Additionally, Gaby maintains a thriving private practice.

Gaby is the recent recipient of the AmSAT research grant for the project entitled: Enhancing actors’ interactions on stage using Alexander Technique. She is also researching the connections between Alexander Technique and creativity in the performing arts.

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was the founder of The Alexander Technique. He was an Australian actor embarking on a promising career in the 1890’s when he began to develop voice problems that failed to respond to any conventional medical treatment. After a particularly important engagement almost ended in disaster because his voice got weaker, he was forced to admit that it must be something he was doing in the act of speaking that was causing his difficulties. He set aside his young career and set out to discover the root cause of the voice problems and for a method of overcoming them.

Prominent students and supporters of the Alexander technique include: George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, John Dewey, and the 1973 Nobel Prize winners for Medicine and Physiology Sir Charles Sherrington and Professor Nikolass Tinbergen.

Gabriella holds a Ph.D. in education, informing both her practice and her research. For more information, please see Alexander Technique Centre.

Guest Teachers

Frank Cassini

Guest Teacher, Frank Cassini is a Leo Award Winning Actor, 2012 Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series for Blackstone. A veteran of film, television and theatre, Frank Cassini has been acting professionally for over 25 years. He is a lifetime member of, The Actor’s Studio, in NYC and LA. Frank has performed in over 20 plays including the Dramalogue Award winning, The Jones Boy, in Los Angeles and the Off-Broadway comedy hit, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, in New York City.

Some of Frank Cassini’s film credits include, Little Brother of War, and, A Few Lousy Dollars, both of which earned him Leo Award nominations for Best Actor.  Frank has also worked with Zack Snyder in, Watchmen; Mark Rydell in, James Dean; Martin Scorsese in, Goodfellas; and Norman Jewison in, Moonstruck.

Cassini is a longtime fixture on network television with a regular role in the short lived CTV/CBS, The Bridge and recurring roles in, Blackstone, The Killing, DaVinci’s Inquest, DaVinci’s City Hall, and, Intelligence. Frank’s Guest Starring roles include the following series: True Justice, Stargate Sg-1, NYPD Blue, Millenium, X-Files, and, Miami Vice, to name a few.

Read more about Frank Cassini

Frank Cassini is a produced screenwriter who co-wrote the short, Freedom Park, with brother John, who directed. This earned Frank a Best Actor nomination at the 2001 Methodfest festival in the US. The Cassini brothers collaborated again co-writing their 2005 dark comedic feature, Break A Leg, which went on to win multiple awards in numerous US film festivals. Break A Leg, was directed by Monika Mitchell, now married to John.

To date, Frank has written seven screenplays and a Web Series, which is being developed to shoot in Fall 2011. The web series will be directed by Frank’s business partner, David Langlois, for their production company, Gastown Films. The two are additionally seeking financing for their first feature called, Waiting List, a psychological-horror-thriller.


Joel Sturrock

Joel Sturrock is both student and guest teacher at Blue Egg. He is co-creator, choreographer and actor of The True Heroines live cabaret show and TV series (Season 1 released through Hulu; season two pre-production). Blue Egg is a proud sponsor of The True Heroines.

Joel is a Triple Threat, Actor-Dancer-Singer. He began dancing at the age of five spring boarding him into not only a career but a life of storytelling contemporary and commercial ideas through the art of dance. At the age of 16 Joel left home in Alberta to train at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. With his time there he also ventured into theater, voice and film landing him a role in the TV movie “Hell of Heels; The Battle of Mary Kay” starring Shirley Mclaine. Joel later graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts with a mentorship in Choreography under Jacques Lemay, where he was assistant choreographer for the show “On Broadway”. Joel performed at the Royal Visit of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Victoria, Canada and has appeared in various independent films. One of his most memorable moments was performing with Avenue Q’s Johnny Tartaglia in his Off-Broadway show AD-Liberty.