The Collective

We are teachers, actors, leaders, artists.


Lauren English


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Lauren English served as the resident casting director at San Francisco Playhouse for a decade and cast over 60 main stage and world premiere productions. A founding member and Artistic Associate she works extensively in the new works development: The Sandbox Series. Previous San Francisco Playhouse directing credits: Non-Player Character by Walt McGough, Zenith by Kirsten Greenidge, 123 by Lila Rose Kaplan, Inevitable by Jordan Puckett and The Mystery Plays by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Favorite onstage roles include: Lindsey in You Mean to Do Me Harm, Pilot in Grounded, Sally in Cabaret, and Lisa in The Glory of Living to name a few. Locally, she has worked at The Aurora Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Festival, Custom Made Theatre Company, Word for Word, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Marin Shakespeare Company, The Playwright’s foundation, Playground among others.  Selected New York Theater credits: TACT's Off Broadway Production of The Cocktail Party, Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and The Idealist at The New York Times Theatre. Also in NY she worked at The Public Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, Lark Theatre and Playwrights Realm. Lauren is currently the casting director of The Playwright’s Foundation. She holds an MFA from NYU Grad Acting. 


Patrick Russell


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Patrick Russell is a professional actor and director who has performed in theaters across the Bay Area, including ACT (King Charles III, Once in a Lifetime, A Christmas Carol), California Shakespeare Theater (As You Like It), Aurora Theatre Company (A Bright New Boise, Wilder Times, Body Awareness, Trouble in Mind, Awake and Sing!), San Francisco Playhouse (Noises Off, Red Velvet, Seminar, reasons to be pretty, and the world premieres of 77% and Trouble Cometh), Magic Theatre (Fool for Love, The Other Place), Marin Theatre Company (Othello), Marin Shakespeare Company (Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Three Musketeers, The Comedy of Errors),CenterREP (Old Wicked Songs), and Shotgun Players (Care of Trees). Directing credits include Synesthesium and All My Sons. Film credits include the feature film Being Us, the web series SanFranLand, and the award-winning animated short film Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero. His voice-over work can be heard in numerous radio and Internet ads. As a teaching artist, Patrick has taught in American Conservatory Theater’s Summer Training Congress, ACT's Young Conservatory, ACT Professional Development Training Program, California Shakespeare Theater, Academy of Art University, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Southern Oregon University, and currently teaches acting at UC Berkeley. Patrick is a member of Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA. He holds a B.F.A. in acting from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a graduate of American Conservatory Theater’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Acting.



Mia Tagano

Teaching Artist

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Mia Tagano received her B.A. in Drama from the Ohio State University and her M.F.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program. A member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, she has been working as a professional actor since 1997.

Mia has appeared in theatres across the U.S., and the U.K., including the Lincoln Center, Cherry Lane, George Street Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre (DC), Capital Rep, Hartford Stage, Portland Center Stage, Virginia Stage, Denver Center, and with the Royal Shakespeare Company for the UK tour.

In the Bay Area, she has performed at ACT, Berkeley Rep, TheatreWorks, CalShakes, Magic, SF Shakes, Aurora and Crowded Fire. Her voice coaching is influenced by many master teachers of voice including Patsy Rodenburg, Cecily Berry, and Kristin Linklater, working recently with Annie Morrison at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in the UK.


Meryl Shaw

Advisory Board / Teaching Artist

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Meryl Shaw served as Casting Director at American Conservatory Theater for 17 years and has taught audition technique and led audition workshops for over 25 years. She has taught or guest lectured at several universities, including A.C.T., Rutgers, Carnegie-Mellon, Santa Clara University, San Jose State University, St. Mary’s College, and S.F. Academy of Art, as well as numerous theater companies In addition to casting productions for A.C.T., Meryl has cast for the Magic Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Elektra at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. She has also cast for several commercial San Francisco productions, including White Christmas, Jitney, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Meryl received Positive Psychology life coaching certification from SFSU and offers life coaching as well as audition and acting coaching. She works one-on-one with actors and offers individual coaching and classes that integrate life and acting coaching.


Jim Calder

Teaching Artist

Jim is the Head of Movement at NYU Tisch Graduate Acting. Former students including Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, Tony-winner Nina Arianda, Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown, Golden Globe-nominee Andre Holland, Lauren English and many others.

He is the winner of the David Payne Carter Excellence in Teaching Award – Tisch School of the Arts. Artistic Director of La Pietra Summer Theatre Festival – Florence, Italy, Directed works in New York City at Lincoln Center Institute, Pearl Theatre, Classic Stage Company, with workshop presentations at The Public, New York Theater Workshop and HERE.

Jim has been a movement consultant on Pericles at Berkeley Rep, (Director Mark Wing-Davey), Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl (Director Mark Wing-Davey) and Therese Raquin staring Keira Knightley, (director Evan Cabnet) on Broadway. Jim has performed at The Old Globe, P.S. 122, and through out Europe with Treato De La Grappe. He was the lead actor and creative consultant in PBS’s Noddy & Friends TV. Jim trained at Ecole Jacques and performed under the direction of Jacques LeCoq in numerous TV specials in France. 


Devin Shacket

Advisory Board / Teaching Artist

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Devin Shacket is a casting professional, on-camera acting teacher, audition coach, and actress. 

Professional casting credits include the second season of the award winning show House of Cards, alongside Emmy Award winning casting director, Julie Schubert.  Additional casting credits include feature films, (Good Funk, Black Nativity, Three Backyards), and theatre projects, (SF Playhouse). Freelance casting work includes collaborations with casting directors Meredith Tucker, Laray Mayfield, Kevin Kuffa, Rori Bergman, Bess Fifer, Beth Bowling, and Kim Miscia. 

Devin has taught master classes at SF State University, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, SF Playhouse, and Scott Powers Studio.  Recent teaching appointments include assistant teacher to Olympia Dukakis at NYU Tisch, and on-camera faculty at NYU's summer Commedia dell Arte program in Florence, Italy.  She is on faculty at Audition Arts in NYC, and also maintains a private studio in New York.  

Students and private coaching clients have appeared on television shows such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Iron Fist, Happy, Gotham, Switched at Birth, Tyrant, The Deuce, Jack Ryan, Sneaky Pete, Quantico, Jessica Jones, Blue Bloods, The Looming Tower, and more.  Plus, many clients appear on New York and regional theatre stages and in feature films.

Professional acting credits include The San Francisco Playhouse, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and The Lark, in New York City.  Devin is the co-creator of An Unapologetic Mess: A Clown Show at The People's Improv Theatre, and performed in the inaugural six month season. 

Devin holds an M.A. from SF State University, and a BA from NYU.  She has also trained extensively as an actress with master teachers Olympia Dukakis, Jim Calder and Tessa Lang.  Other training includes master classes with Janet Zarish, Philippe Gaulier, Patsy Rodenburg, Bob Krakower, Christopher Bayes, Larry Moss, Terry Knickerbocker, Aitor Basauri, as well as nearly 100 others. Having a passion for actor training, in 2016 she founded The New York Drama Center.


Elena Wright

Teaching Artist


Elena Wright is a bay area actor, fight choreographer, teacher, and director.  She has performed with Theatreworks, SF Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, Marin Shakespeare, Capital Stage, Symmetry Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Shotgun Players, Pacific Repertory Theatre, B Street Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare, Foothill Theatre, and Commonwealth Shakespeare among others.

Some of the institutions she has taught at include Laney College, Berkeley Repertory Theatre,
University of Washington, Napa Valley College, and California Shakespeare Theatre. She is a company member of Playground, Symmetry Theatre, and a member of Actors Equity. She holds an MFA in acting from the University of Washington and a BS in theatre from Northeastern University.


James Donlon

Teaching Artist


James Donlon has been a celebrated master teacher, international performer and director since 1970. He has performed his original physical theatre throughout North America, Europe and Latin America to critical acclaim. James has been on the faculties of acting schools such as The American Conservatory Theater, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, The National Theatre Conservatory-Denver Center, The Yale School of Drama, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-San Diego, and the Oregon Center for the Arts. Among his students have been Broadway star Terrence Mann, award winning director & actor Joe Mantello, and noted writer Peter Hedges.

Donlon has presented residencies with special institutions like El Teatro Campesino, Mexico City 's Bellas Artes, Prague's national Academy of Performing Arts (AMU), Dublin's Gaiety School of Acting, and Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College where he taught Tony Award-winner Bill Irwin and Big Apple Circus icon Barry Lubin.

He has been a film movement coach for Oscar-winners Javier Bardem, Kathy Bates, and Frances McDormand, as well as Benjamin Bratt and David Strathairn. James is the only physical theater artist ever invited to perform with legendary San Francisco street mime Robert Shields of CBS' The Shields & Yarnell Show. He is the first American clown invited to perform in the famed Teatro Dimitri of Switzerland.

In 2009 James founded the Flying Actor Studio, an international center for the study of physical theatre.


Wera von Wulfen

Advisory Board


Wera von Wulfen is a solution seeker, creative strategist, and theater artist. She finished her M.Sc. in Psychology at UC Berkeley after studying at the University of Muenster as well as the University of Goettingen in Germany. She enjoys applying her background in Psychology to the start-up and nonprofit world, and loves people, problems, and solutions. And pasta. After a couple of detours she has found her way home to the theater and couldn’t be more excited and grateful to support Lauren and Patrick in their courageous endeavor to create a safe space for artists. It was through Lauren’s THE WAY IN class that she finally took the leap and showed up for her actor self. Not even a year ago, some wouldn’t have thought it possible. Now she has been on stage at THE EXIT Theatre, participated in TBA’s ATLAS program, and will be understudying in San Francisco Playhouse’s fall production. It’s all happening. And it all started with a class and the magical words of Lauren English. The Actors Space is going to rock your world.