My experience at Les Cours Florent in Marseille, France.
Read below sixth former Carla's experience of attending the prestigious French acting school, Les Cours Florent, made possible by our MFL Sixth Form Scholarship.
Les Cours Florent is a very well-known acting school in France. It’s like the Oxbridge of French theatre. Actors such as Diane Kruger, Isabelle Carré, Pierre Niney and Audrey Tatou have studied there.
When I found this course, I originally had the choice to go to Paris and do an English acting course, doing some Shakespeare or go to Marseille and do a course completely in French. I decided that it would be interesting to try the course in French seeing as I had never done acting in French before.
I was lucky enough to get a MFL scholarship which meant the school gave me a certain amount of money to pay for this course.
But the real benefit was that the scholarship gave me the opportunity to explore options for expanding on my language ability through a huge number of different avenues. In the end I chose a theatrical option because it combined my passion for language with my ambitions in acting. So, I would really recommend that you apply for a scholarship, too.
Before starting the course, we were told to read a book called ‘Roberto Zucco’ which was going to be the script we were going to act out.
When I found out I had to do this, I was quite worried as I thought I wasn’t going to be able to understand the book (due to it being a difficult text but also because French isn’t my first language).
As soon as we got into the class and started reading the script all together, I realised straight away that everyone was really getting into it and vocally acting out their roles which meant that you had to read the words quickly, understand the context and be in your role. Due to French not being my first language, speaking fast can be quite difficult so that took me a while to get used to.
It wasn’t until our tutor began to illustrate what she meant that I started to appreciate the differences in style between English drama style and French drama style. I noticed that the French have a much more expressive way of performing a role. For example, my tutor would use her body in a very expansive way and almost filled the room with her gesturing, her facial expressions and the precise articulation of the words and the way she projected them.
It’s interesting to observe that the English culture is much more reserved than the French, so I suspect that the French style of acting reflects the French passionate and emotional culture. For example, you would expect a passion scene performed by English performers to be very subtle in its expression, whereas my French tutor was very physical in the way she interpreted a romantic scene.
At the end of the course, we had prepared a monologue which we had to perform in front of a camera. We had all assumed that this was simply a way of consolidating our week into a video – until the Head of The Cours Florent from Montpellier appeared. It was then that we realised we were about to audition for a place at the school.
Thankfully I was awarded a place and have chosen to go to Montpellier instead of Paris – as it has a better reputation for training actors. I begin my studies in September.
Beyond the discoveries I have made into the differences in acting styles between us and the French, the challenge of performing in French rather than English has definitely improved my resilience and boosted my confidence.
The nerves I felt at the beginning of the course quickly evaporated once I realised that everyone with me felt the same – and were really nice people, and I remain friends with them and will be seeing many of them when I get to Montpellier.
Written by: Carla, Year 13