Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FRIGID New York Interview - Christel Bartelse of "ONEymoon (A Honeymoon for One)"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Christel Bartelse
Show: ONEymoon ( A Honeymoon for One)
Website: www.christelbartelse.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

At the age of three my parents put me in a recreation dance class, and from there I had the bug. I became heavily involved in dance (tap, jazz and ballet); till the age of nineteen I was performing and competing. Meanwhile in my teens I also started taking drama lessons and was heavily involved in theatre in high school. I was a very high energy kid and liked putting on performances for family and friends in the neighbourhood. I continued my studies in theatre after graduating high school, and was also introduced to improv and clown, and have been doing it ever since.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences are my parents who have supported and pushed me, and encouraged me to do this from a young age.

I’m also very influenced by amazing female performers/comediennes who I watched growing up. I love Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett.

Several years ago, I was introduced to Mump & Smoot (Michael Kennard & John Turner), the incredible clowns of horror, and I started working with them very intensely. I studied clown for many years and had the chance to perform with them in Mump and Smoot in Something Else, and Mike has directed me in several shows. I still continue to use clown, dance and physical theatre in all my work, and develop my shows out of the techniques I learnt from them.

Karen Hines, of Pochsy fame, is someone I admire and look up to, and she really inspired me to develop a one-woman show after seeing her work.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

ONEymoon ( A Honeymoon for One) is a one-woman comedy about a woman who decides to marry herself. With ambiguous feelings about the institution of marriage and unwilling to commit to anything less than perfection, solo performer “Caroline” opts to reinvent a long standing social convention. The audience joins Caroline, her family and friends on her unusual wedding day, and follows along on her beach vacation - her honeymoon for one. Filled with zany wit, improv, dance and song, Caroline pokes holes in our notions of “wedded bliss” but ultimately finds that even a long term relationship with herself has its pitfalls.

What inspired you to write it?

Like most people, I have had my share of relationship challenges. In January 2010, while packing for a restful trip to the Bahamas which my partner (and co-writer/director), Jimmy Hogg, could not share, he joked that he felt like I was going on “honeymoon for one”. Out of that chance comment sprung the idea of ONEymoon. An exploration of the joys of independence and the fear of being alone; of the acute awareness of the imperfections of a partner and even worse, the imperfections of yourself. Oneymoon is my second solo show.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Jimmy Hogg, my partner, co-wrote and directed my in this show. He is also a Fringe Festival favourite having performed on the performed Fringe Festival Circuit for the past five years with hit shows such as Curriculum Vitae (played at Frigid Fest in 2006), A Brief History of Petty Crime, Like a Virgin and Wisdom: Part 1.

Shawn Byfield did the tap choreography on this show. Shawn is an award winning dancer and choreographer having won a Dora Mavor Moore award for his choreography in the hit Toronto musical, “I think I can.” I met Shawn over ten years ago taking his dance classes.

Sarah Doucett, the other choreographer on the show, and I have developed several independent dance routines that I have performed in cabarets around Toronto. Sarah was part of the hit dance group Holy Body Tattoo and is choreographer who has worked all over the States and Europe

Kathryn Rose's hit song “I married myself” is featured in this show ONEymoon. After a mutual friend heard of me doing this show and knew that Kathryn had written this song, we met and she gave me the freedom to use this song however I wished in the show. Kathryn is known for her artful, cerebral brand of sexy-sad-funny cinematic pop. Her reputation also precedes her as one of Canada’s top “go-to" voices in film, TV and radio and on the albums of countless other artists. To name a few: Barenaked Ladies, Kevin Breit, Dan Bryk, Meryn Cadell, Change Of Heart, Damhnait Doyle, JD Fortune, Lennie Gallant, King Cobb Steelie, Kyp Harness, James Hill, Joel Kroeker, Sarah McLachlan (2004 world tour and live DVD), Oliver Schroer, Andy Stochansky, Ben Sures, Dave Wall, and an ongoing side project trio with Emilie-Claire Barlow and Melanie Doane.

All of my productions are managed by Sheila Sky, Management. Sheila and I have been working together since 2008. Since founding Sky Arts Management she undertaken management, strategic and logistical planning, marketing, publicity and fundraising for multidisciplinary company Theatre Gargantua, South Asioan theatre company Rasik Arts, Christel Bartelse’s cross Canada tour of CHOATICA (Canadian comedy award nominee) and the extreme outdoor opera of R. Murray Schafer for Patria Music Theatre Productions.

Michal Kennard (Mump in Mump and Smoot) is my creative consultant. We have been working together since 2003 when he was the director of my hit two women comedy duo “The Burnt Marshmallows” having directed us in our hit show STUCK. I have studied clown with him intensively.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

After Frigid Festival, I will continue teaching physical comedy at Humber College until the semester ends in April. Then I will be taking my two solo shows, CHAOTICA, and ONEymoon to festivals. Chaotica is headed to Diva Fest in Indianapolis in March 2011, and will be playing London, ON & Toronto Fringe Festivals. ONEymoon will be performed at Winnipeg & Edmonton Fringe festivals this summer.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

This show is for anyone in a relationship, who has been in a relationship, wants to be in a relationship, or does not want to be in a relationship - and by that I mean even a relationship with yourself.

I had expected this show to strike a chord with women, but the response from male audience members and reviewers has been just as enthustaitc. I’ve learned that ambiguous feelings about marriage are universal and are shared by all, even the already and happily married. This show is a lot of fun, filled with comedy, audience improv, dance and song.

ONEymoon (A Honeymoon for One)
Created & performed by Christel Bartelse
Presented by Dutch Girl Productions Toronto, ON Canada

UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place)


Wed 2/23 @ 6pm, Sat 2/26 @ 7pm, Sun 2/27 @ 2:30pm, Mon 2/28 @ 7:30pm, Wed 3/2 @ 10:30pm, & Thu 3/3 @ 6pm

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