Deborah Frances-White, London, England
Deborah Frances-White is the co-founder and artistic director of The Spontaneity Shop, the UK’s premiere improvisation company. The Spontaneity Shop is exactly the same age as the CIF and they are enjoying their tenth birthday parties in the same month. The company was started with a view to creating great improvisation where the comedy comes from the stories and the characters. They haven’t always succeeded but they’ve had lots of goes and lots of fun in the process. Deborah and her co-founder Tom Salinsky learnt to teach improvisation to form their own company of like minded players. They often teach at RADA and The Actors Centre. They work to Keith Johnstone’s methods but see them as a starting place not a set of rules to be followed religiously. They are always looking to develop new formats and methods and are currently writing The Definitive Guide to Improvisation for Continuum publishing house.
The company has travelled all around the world, memorably to the CIF, the New Zealand TV2 Laugh Festival (where they worked with Wade Jackson) and to festivals in Atlanta, Orlando, Amsterdam and as guest performers and teachers all over North America, Europe and Australia. They learn more every time they travel or host an international festival. In 2000 Deborah created DreamDate which was a hit at The Edinburgh Festival and has since been made into a TV pilot in the UK and bought by Fremantle Media (American Idol) with a view to making it in the States and then worldwide. Deborah’s personal approach to improvisation is to trust your obvious, start positive, stop trying so hard to be good and have fun. She owes much of her ethos to Keith Johnstone and the fabulous Patti Stiles who is now the AD of Impro Melbourne.
Deborah just sold her screenplay, co-written with Philippa Waller and Monica Henderson, to Fox Searchlight. She is taking her second stand-up show “How to Get Almost Anyone to Want to Sleep With You” to the Edinburgh Festival in 2007. With The Spontaneity Shop she performs weekly shows, runs an ever expanding workshop programme and regularly does corporate training. She is delighted to be an artistic associate of the CIF.