There is a special category of people. People who come to this world to heal it. Not literally, of course, but still leave something in it that definitely makes it a little better. Their views, their actions and values.
Today we present you a clear example of such a person – Camille Berring. A sunny girl from France, who despite her young age, is not only a creative nature, but also an incredible pacifist, able to reveal the light even in the darkest situations…Curator of a project that reveals new musical and theatrical talents. Head of a unique musical about deep social problems … Fancier in Broadway and Russian literature. And this is not taking into account her excellent vocal skills and past as a ballerina! But about everything in order… We are sure that you will smile more than once, and you will be sad more than once.
—So, firstly tell us a little about yourself for the readers of the magazine.
Hi! My name is Camille Berring and I’m a French musical performer. I’m kind of a Disney princess in my everyday life and I’m a cat person. I change my hair colors too often and when I’m not dancing I’m singing. I love drawing ghosts and horror stories. I think all of that tells you a lot!
— Yes! it is speaks of a creative nature! Perhaps this is why you are participating in the Agency “Acte C Scène M”, where young people can reveal their vocal and acting skills… Tell us how this idea came about.
The idea came out at the end of our musical school: after getting our diploma we already had started to work on «Populaire, le musical» and we needed an associative structure to support the project. Lauriane Fouchier and Jérémy Lacombe-Bienfait, true imaginative geniuses, had already both in mind one musical each they wanted to write and put on stage. That was an evidence for them to get together and found «Acte C Scène M».
— What is the main goal of the project?
«Acte C Scène M» is a theatrical company which produces musicals and plays. What is really. Interesting about them is that they work with professional and amateur artists to give the opportunity to everyone to get on stage. Here in France, it’s really hard to find musicals outside of Paris so the main goal is to build a musical scene in Lyon, where we all live.
— Why did you choose to do musical theater? Have you always had an aspiration for creativity?
I fell in love with musicals while watching Mary Poppins and until this day I’ve never ever got tired of seeing Julie Andrews perform. What I love the most about my work is being able to tell stories to people and bring them with me in whole other worlds. I also really enjoy the physical challenge: being a musical performer is very demanding because you have to train and take care every day of your voice and your body. Even, and maybe especially, when you’re not playing a lead role.
I think as far as I can remember I’ve always sung. My grandmother was an incredible singer, she had an Edith Piaf alike voice and she used to perform for veterans. From her I got my fondness for cabarets and operetta. When I was 5 years old my Dad would sit me at the piano next to him to make me sing while he was playing… So I guess it’s a family thing. I also did ballet for 8 years when I was young, so that’s always been a part of my life.
— What was the first performance you saw? Do you remember these impressions?
The first musical I saw live was «1789, Les Amants de la Bastille». My mom was listening to the album on a loop. I think that’s when I fell in love with Camille Lou’s voice – that woman is so naturally and amazing… At that time, I hadn’t made my mind about being a musical performer myself but I remember that’s when I realized the better part of playing in musicals: it’s to use your voice to convey emotions while being someone so different from yourself, it’s to have the opportunity to be one day a queen, the other a thief and the next a high school student.
Living so many lives… That’s what I love the most.
— Let’s talk about your project Populaire le musical. How did you decide to put on a musicalperformance specifically on the topic of bullying among teenagers?
«Populaire, le musical» was written because we really wanted to raise awareness among young people and their families about bullying. When we were at school ourselves we all witnessed or suffered from harassment and some of us had a very hard time dealing with insults, violence, sexual harassment, aggressions or homophobia. This show is as cathartic for the actors as it can be for the audience.
We chose to place the action in an American university so our scenery could be pop and colorful and look alike what young people like to watch on television, on Netflix series and in the pop culture. Our main goal is to make people wonder about themselves while watching the show
«Did I live a similar situation? Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted it…»
«Did I miss someone lending me a hand to help me? Maybe I shouldn’t be so afraid of others…»
«Did I already do something like that to someone? Maybe I hurt people without noticing…»
«Did I feel something was wrong with my students/children? Maybe I should have asked them…»
The show addresses very difficult issues (bullying, insults, teasing, loneliness, sexual assault, suicide attempt) so we compensate for these hard moments to watch with joyful and funny scenes the audience expects to see when it comes to American universities, such as American parties, typical classrooms, cheerleading, etc. These elements bring balance to the show so it can convey emotions but never become too hurtful to watch so everyone can go home feeling moved and more thoughtful.
— Sounds interesting. Tell us a little about the story.
«Populaire, le musical» takes the audience at the heart of Inspector Simons’ investigation. He’s in charge of solving the tragic event which took place in Red Oaks University. Through the interrogations, the students reveal their true faces and the reality appears more perverted than what Inspector Simons thought at first. In this class, friendships and treasons get mixed up until the point of no return.
— What advice would you give to people in a similar situation?
I was a bit bullied at school myself even if it wasn’t violent fortunately. I was very lucky because I could talk about everything with my parents, so my first advice is not to be ashamed to talk to them or another adult you can count on (your uncles, aunties, cousins, big brothers and sisters, teachers, babysitters or school nurses).
I also had things I loved to do at home and that helped me create my own happy place: I played music, I sang, I read a lot, I played video games, I wrote and I drew.
The more important thing to know is that high school is just such a tiny part of our lives that we mustn’t give up and always keep in mind the wonderful things to come, even if, I know, when we’re in there we aren’t able to imagine a world outside of school.
— How was the preparation for the play going? Has the pandemic affected the creation process? For better or for worse?
The pandemic was our first problem as we were supposed to start rehearsals on March and to premiere on June 21th. Of course that didn’t happen. In France, we were on lockdown on March 17th and theatres were still closed in June. We managed to postpone the premiere to September 13th. We started rehearsals as soon as lockdown broke, by the middle of May and worked around 18 hours a week on the show.
But before that we did many things during lockdown. Marie-Charlotte Le Morvan, Lauriane Fouchier and I are the choreographers of the show so we recorded ourselves and sent videos to every artist so they could start learning the choreographies. That took a lot of time to record, then to correct the videos the artists were sending to us and of course we also had to send videos to each other.
That was tough. We also got altogether on Zoom every Saturday afternoon to read the whole play and work on our lines. At that time, we started to outline our characters’ traits. Finally, we took time to record two promotional videos: a «Don’t rush challenge», which is an Instagram challenge where people transform themselves so we did it to present our characters; and we also recorded a lockdown version of our song «La Fête» («The Party») as if we were our characters having an online party. That was fun.
So that time was pretty special but I think it was for the best because when we finally played in September we were enriched by all this work.
— What was the audience’s first reaction to the musical?
It was amazing. While playing we could genuinely feel the audience feeling exactly what we intended them to. During the cheerleading ballet they were cheering and singing and having so much fun. During our cyber bullying ballet we could feel them suffocating just as our main character. And at the end, we could hear them opening their packs of tissues because they were crying. They were living the show with us. That’s the most beautiful thing for an actor I think. And I just won’t ever forget how warm they were and how moving it was when we got out talking with them after the show and some of them were cheering or still crying in the hall.
— What is your favorite moment in «Populaire»?
I can’t tell it without spoiling the show. So… SPOILER ALERT. Don’t read those lines if you want to see the show.
My character, Sam Olivers, dies at the end because she sacrifices herself to save her friend Ally who attempts suicide on the railroad. For the last song, “N’oublie pas” («Don’t Forget») I come back as Sam’s ghost, wearing a beautiful white dress and I walk in the classroom among the students. They don’t see me but I touch them, each differently depending on their relationship with Sam, and they react as if they could feel me. The last person I go to before singing “Ne m’oublie pas” (Don’t forget me) is Ally, I take her into my arms and she feels my ghostly embrace. Maëva Bouchet, playing Ally, and I have become close friends too in real life so that’s just a loving and caring moment. On the pictures of the show I saw her cry while I hold her and it’s just so beautiful.
— Wow!!!! It’s unexpected, exciting, and very sad… So… If you could describe your musical in one word, what would it be?
Not to brag but… Powerful.
— – Describe your character in more detail?
I play Sam Olivers. She’s a cool kid, she’s rock’n’roll and seems not to care about anything until the day she meets Ally, becomes fond of her and does everything she can to help her get out of her shell. She can’t bear injustice and puts all her strength in helping her friend to go up against her bullies. However, she isn’t perfect and at a time in the show she misjudges Ally and turns her back on her. That’s the beginning of the end for Ally.
I love Sam with all my heart because I spent so much months with her that she became a part of me. She’s everything I’m not in real life. I’m not masculine, nor chill nor rock’n’roll and I’ve always admired people like Sam, with such strength and confidence. However, I took some of her good sides and I’ve noticed that in my personal life I worked so much to play the part that I took some of her confidence, rock’n’roll and chill attitude. And that’s great. She’s inspired from Chloe Price, from the video game Life is Strange (one of my favorites in the entire world) and that’s also a cool thing about her.
— What is more difficult for you – to manage the process, write music, or play on stage?
Definitely not playing on stage, that’s just the best part and what we were all meant to do. The hardest I think is to manage to work as a team. We’re very lucky because everyone in the cast is a true kind person, always willing to reassess themselves, but we all have our own personalities and flaws.
It is very difficult if you don’t communicate with each other to keep a good mood and good relationships even when you work for so long on such a stressful project, with its ups and downs. Twice during the creation process, we sat down altogether and talk to each other for hours: it was the time to hear difficult things we have to say to one another and to talk about what upset us even if it was someone in particular. That allowed us to say everything with kindness face to face and not talk behind each other’s back. I think that’s what got us through the whole process and what created such an amazing team spirit the audience was able to feel on stage. That’s the cherry on top for a play!
— How do you see the future of the project?
We are currently making contacts with high schools in France. It is our main target. We’d love to be able to play in front of whole schools because we really created the show for teenagers, thinking about them and what we wanted to say to them. That’s really important for us. Then we’ll see! We hope to play it in theatres, if Covid 19 allows us, in fall 2021.
— We really hope that your project will really affect the solution of a problem that affects all countries and cultures… And what would you personally like to change in the world?
There is one thing I think that would change many things… I’d love people to accept one another despite their cultural, sexual, religious, philosophical and physical differences. I think that if we could at least just live our lives without trying to order the others’ lives when they’re harming no one, we would make a great step towards acceptance, peace and happiness.
— What else would you like to make a musical about?
I really don’t know… I have my own company with which I work on original Broadway musicals called «Un Verre de Broadway» («A Glass of Broadway») and for example we’re playing the Rocky Horror Picture Show right now.
But in «Acte C Scène M», Lauriane Fouchier is writing a musical about women in the 1920s. It tells the stories of three women and how they struggle each in a different way against patriarchy. Jérémy Lacombe-Bienfait has written a play about artificial intelligence and humanity called Chemins («Paths»). It will tell the story of a future where we all have personal servants and question the frontier between artificial and human intelligence. It will be played next Spring!
— This is a lot and serious. I wish you good luck with them! Since we are a Russian magazine, and many of our readers are very fond of France, French performances, etc. I should ask: what do you know about Russia?
I should have visited Moscow in Summer 2020 and I hope I can postpone that wonderful road trip with a friend to Spring 2021. As a former ballet dancer, I’m very fond of Tchaikovsky and Olga Khokhlova and I’ve always dreamt of seeing a Bolshoi Theatre in Russia. At the university I specialized in History so I know a bit too about Russia’s History: I hope it’s not too cliché but I really enjoyed learning about Catherine the Great. And I must confess I love Russian literature: the last Russian book I read was «Oblomo»v that I really enjoyed. But firstly I’m a big reader of Gogol, I can’t get enough of his stories, especially «Dead Souls», «Saint-Petersburg Tales» and the play «The Inspector General». That always makes me want to pour some russian grappa in my tea.
— Have you seen any Russian plays, musicals or films? What can you say about them?
I’ve only seen one Russian movie, but it’s one of my favorite: «Polina, danser sa vie», a collaboration between France and Russia made by Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj. It takes place in 1990 Moscow. Polina is a young Russian ballet dancer and she is able to enter the Bolshoi, but the strict discipline of her professors and her lack of freedom push her into applying to a contemporary dance academy in France. In the end she amazingly manages to take the best of both worlds and become a great artist.
This movie conveys the idea that dances is a never ending learning process out of time and out of an ever understanding present time. The beauty of it is found in the unsaid things, the absence of her father, the sensuality of the dance, etc. However, I unfortunately don’t know if that kind of movie and that way of filming is typically Russian or not.
— What films, musicals, or plays would you recommend to the Russian audience? Can you create your personal top 5?
As I said, my first inspiration is Julie Andrews. So if you haven’t seen «Mary Poppins», «The Sound of Music» or «Victor-Victoria», you totally should! My other top four musicals are only Broadway musicals but they inspire me greatly. That’s a bit cliché for a Russian audience I guess but «Anastasia» is wonderful (my favorite song is «In My Dreams», I sing it so often). Also, two classics which are very important to me are «Hair» (especially Milosh Forman’s 1979 movie) and «Moulin Rouge» with the ever wonderful Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. At last I recommend you to see «Mean Girls» the musical. It’s very funny and is also about bullying so that’s great.
— And the next question is very difficult to answer in such a difficult time, but still: what are your plans for the near future?
As I said before, concerning «Acte C Scène M», Lauriane Fouchier and Jérémy Lacombe-Bienfait are both writing and setting on stage one musical each. Stay tuned and follow us on social media to discover the amazing things they have in store. The next one to come for spring 2021 is «Chemins».
As for me I put together a company called «Un Verre de Broadway». We create and play iconic Broadway musicals on stage, with all our hearts and fondness for the great American entertainment. Our project is to translate into French our favorite musicals and play them on stage for French people or French lovers.
We will also be launching very soon a YouTube Channel to shoot music videos with French musical performers, professionals and amateurs to bring just a bit of Broadway dream and sparkle with a little French chic, a «Verre de Broadway», like a glass of Bordeaux wine. So stay tuned for it too because you will be able to follow us from Russia and I can’t wait for that! No one yet knows what we are preparing to play next but I can give you exclusive clues: we’ll play for Valentine’s day month and our play and first three music videos are going to involve some Summer lovin’g and “Chang chang changitty chang shoobop”!
—Sounds intriguing! And our final traditional question:what would you wish to our audience?
I wish them to have dreams bigger than themselves and to rush after them as we did. It’s so hard but so worth it: knowing why you get up every day, that’s priceless.
Interview made by: Katerina Novak
Special for IZKULIS.ru