INTERVIEW: Learn French & English Theatre & Improv with Act’in Theatre

Are you looking to learn drama, improvisation or cinema this September in either English or French? Well, look no further because the first term of Acti’in Theatre begins on the 19th September and there are lots of lessons on offer, including ones for children as well! The theatre is located in Old Paradise Yard in London. Today we speak to the Director of Act’in Theatre, Candice Desmet about brand new lessons that are available this September.

Hello Act’in Theatre tell us a little bit about yourselves!

Act’in Theatre, created by Candice Desmet in 2015, is a London-based bilingual theatre company that offers drama, improvisation and cinema workshops for everyone in London, whatever the experience.

It has a reputation for providing quality service in a friendly and no judgmental atmosphere in the vibrant heart of the English capital.

Ac’tin Theatre is for people who want to practice an artistic activity. The small group aims to offer space for total freedom, where creativity and expression are the keywords.

The company make a point of honour respecting the students’ rhythm, accompanying them to discover themselves, and surpassing themselves with the help of exercises and techniques, especially tailored by Candice Desmet and our teachers’ team. 

How did Act’in Theatre start?

Act’in Theatre is a company created by an actress with and for the students. Candice Desmet, aged 33 years old, is a French actress. She started taking acting classes in France while studying biology. Her theatrical career began in Nantes (West of France), where she joined Guenaël Morin’s troupe in 2011. Later in her career, she revisits the great classics of Sophocles. The success is such that she will even perform it on the stage of the Théâtre de la Bastille in Paris. 

When she arrived in London in 2012, she got her first role in the feature film NABORI and joined an improvisation troupe with which she did shows in London, France and Morocco and theatre companies. Realising that something was missing in the theatre bilingual scene in London, she opened Act’in Theatre in 2015, and invested a lot of her time and energy, in overcoming the difficulties of setting up and running a business in a country that is not one’s own. 

Now in 2022, Act’in Theatre offers no less than 7 weekly drama classes in French, 2 in English, 3 improvisation classes for adults in both languages, and 2 weekly classes for children every Saturday. Act’in Theatre welcome around 100 students per week, at different locations in London (near Waterloo and in Kentish Town) and is one of the three largest French-speaking theatre company in the English capital.

You can attend a workshop in French or English and if your fluency is still a work in progress, then, we will adapt to you. All tailored classes! 

Candice Desmet,  Director, Act’in Theatre

Let’s talk about the Drama Workshops for adults – what is on offer and what can people learn from them?

Acceptance and expression are the key words here. A drama session is a valve of freedom. Act’in Theatre’s drama programme focuses on relaxation and self-centeredness. For two hours a week, you take time for yourself and only for yourself. It is an opportunity to work on your voice, body expression and emotions. Guaranteed 100% fun and 0% pressure, a drama workshop, whether it is in French or English, will help you let off steam and accept yourself completely and without restraint. We always work in a friendly environment without any kind of judgement. So, don’t be afraid or shy, everything is done with care and at your rhythm. During the year, we will work on different objective like develop your game, help you progress while respecting your desires, help you to take up certain challenges and create a close-knit and enthusiastic group.

There is a strong link between drama and everyday life and all we work on during the workshop can help and be very useful at work, home, with family or friends. You will work on breathing, concentration, confidence, interaction with others, voice in all its form, how to embrace and control your emotions, awareness of the space, … with good tips to reproduce in an important meeting or family dinner.

Acting is a school for life, and with Act’in Theatre, you can do it in your mother tongue or immersing yourself in a new culture. The theatrical adventure has no borders… so no more excuses!

You offer new Children Drama workshops as well! Tell us about them!

Our children’s drama workshops are called Les P’tits Act’ and take place on Saturday mornings in Kentish Town. It is no more than a moment of expression, creativity and 100% fun in French for children aged 8 to 15 years old.

As we all know, a child is full of energy and creativity! Drama classes are ideal for expressing them with fun through improvisation techniques. 

As for the adult sessions, we only work in small groups. And we focus on acceptance, caring and expression. Those exercises and practice will allow the children to work on their emotions and energy, finding the right balance between control and letting it go. A real moment of fun with friends when you dare to try, laugh, cry, be afraid, and enjoy it! And, cherry on the cake, depending on what the children fancy to do or play, there is a show at the end of the year, when the children hit the stage in front of a real audience.

Favourite lessons to teach in both French and English?

What I enjoy the most is probably the first lesson when the students understand the link between drama and everyday life. I also like the sessions where they discover their text for performance.

The Phoenix Remix is a website that aims to promote improvisation, so we have to talk about your workshops on offer! 

Of course! 

We offer 3 different improvisation workshops every week.

One (on Saturday mornings) is for level 3 improvisers, who now form the Improzac troupe and perform on stage with shows every 5/6 weeks. So, to join this group, you need a real experience in improvisation and to meet the members of the Improzacs to make sure you can fit in. Don’t worry, they are all very kind! And they welcome new members often, the last addition was made in April.

If you prefer an improvisation group for another level (beginner or intermediate), then we offer Wednesday evenings or Saturday afternoons.

Wednesday evenings (6.30-8.30 pm) is a beginner’s group (level 1), in English, with Guillaume Desqueyroux, an excellent improviser, member of The Parentheticals and who has been teaching at Act’in for several years now.

Saturday afternoon (4-6 pm) is a group for level 1 and level 2, in French, with Candice Desmet.

Act’in Theatre presents a public show at the end of the season for people wishing to experience the power of the stage.

In all three cases, the sessions are guaranteed to be fun, energetic and with a view to relaxation and fun. That will allow you to learn improvisation techniques. In addition, you will learn how to stimulate your imagination, you will see the rules of improvisation matches and the different themes. And those workshops are beneficial for everyone since they will allow you to reveal your body and oral expression, self-confidence, and creativity and reveal the unpredictable characters that lie dormant in you. Two hours per week of release, expression, stimulation, and 100% self-assurance… Let’s go!

Are these classes solely for people who are fluent in French or can intermediates and beginners join too?

Everyone is welcome at Act’in Theatre! You can attend a workshop in French or English and if your fluency is still a work in progress, then, we will adapt to you. All tailored classes! 

There is a strong link between drama and everyday life and all we work on during the workshop can help and be very useful at work, home, with family or friends.

Candice Desmet,  Director, Act’in Theatre

How different is improvising in French to English?

The difference between improv’ in French and English is mainly cultural, the humour is not the same so the sketches will be different. In French improvisation, there is an advanced mastery of the language whereas English improvisation will be mainly through the body and the tempo of the sketches (more comical, burlesque).

The short form remains the most mastered style of improvisation and is preferred by the French, whereas long form is a technique dominated by the English. 

But in improvisation nothing is determined by nationality, there is no label. It remains an international discipline which evolves through time and the inspirations of the moment.

There is starting to be a thriving French comedy circuit, especially improv’  in London, this must be a very exciting thing to be a part of?

Yes, it is. As London is one of the “big French cities”, it is important to be present and to develop the art. Improvisation is a young discipline which only needs to develop. That’s why we’re very proud to be one of the initiators of French improvisation in London.

If people want to find out more about your courses, where should they visit you on social media?

You can find us on different platforms! Our website is the place to go with all details, info on enrolment, next shows, troupes, and various videos, …

But you can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube with the Act’in channel.

Finally in three words why should people enrol in your courses?

Dare to try, I guarantee you you won’t be disappointed!

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