#21 – Christel Bartelse

Christel is an Actor, Comic, Writer, Teacher, and Solo Show creator living in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Program, Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and has studied Clown extensively with John Turner & Michael Kennard (Mump and Smoot) as well as Sue Morrison, Philippe Gaulier and Francine Cote. She had the pleasure of performing with Mump and Smoot in “Something” at the Westbury Theatre in Edmonton.

She is a member of Faustwork Mask Theatre/Prologue for the Performing Arts and performs the show The Mask Messenger in schools regularly.

In 2008 she developed her first solo show “CHAOTICA” which went onto to win numerous awards and garnered rave reviews. She developed 2 other solo shows “ONEymoon” & “Significant Me” and all three solo shows have been nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award “Best One Person Show”. Christel continues to tour her work, and has toured across Canada, to the US & the UK. She has been teaching for over 15 years. She has taught Improv at the Second City, teaches Mask, Clown, Dance, Movement, independently to schools all across the GTA and currently teaches Clown/Movement at the Toronto Film School and teaches and directs Clowns at Humber College in the Comedy & Writing Program.

http://christelbartelse.com/
Twitter:@cbartelse

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Transcript

Transcript auto generated. 

Phil Rickaby
Welcome to Episode 21. I’m your host, Phil Rickaby. On Stageworthy I interview people who make theatre: actors, directors, playwrights and more, and talk to them about everything from why they chose the years and it works process and everything in between. You can find Stageworthy on Facebook and Twitter, it stayed with Todd, and you can find the website at stageworthypodcast.com. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes or Google music or whatever podcast app you use and consider leaving a comment or rating. Cristel Bartelse is an actor, comic writer, teacher and solo show creator living in Toronto. In this episode, Crystal mentions her performance of one a moon in May, which sadly has passed however, a new is All kidding aside will be presented at both the Toronto and Hamilton Fringe Festivals.

Think you’re mostly known as a solo?

Christel Bartelse
Yeah. Which has pros and cons? Of course. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby
of course. I mean, do you find that when people see you for other stuff? They’re like, Oh, she’s just a solo performer?

Christel Bartelse
Um, yeah, I think I think people associate me with being a solo performer. I actually love collaborating. And I would love to do more of that. I think what I love about doing solo work is I’m in control, of course, and I call the shots and I make my own rehearsal schedule, and I booked my own gigs. So I’m in control of everything. The downside is I sometimes, you know, I used to be part of a sketch too. So I do see people do Yeah, improv or sketch troops or being part of an ensemble. And I thought, I think I would love to do that. I have had a few people say, Oh, I thought of you for that. But I didn’t think you would want to do it. Because you do so little work. That does. Yeah, that’s, that does bother me. But at the end of the day, so I found that sometimes I have, you know, read another script or been considered for something. And then as I’m reading it, I think, I don’t want to say these lines, or I don’t actually want to, you know, do this, I want to just do my own work. So I’m kind of trying to find the balance. I would love to have a mix of both. For sure. But that’s I also just kind of what I fell into. And I’m very excited by solo work. Yeah, as you may know, the downside is, you know, you don’t have anyone to kind of guide you. And as you come off stage after a great performance, you celebrate alone, if you have a really shitty performance,

Phil Rickaby
you commiserate alone. Yeah. So that’s one of the things that I’m kind of not looking forward to. This is my first my first solo performance. And every other show I’ve done you come offstage. And there’s somebody else there to be absolutely great show because a great show where like, you could come in the audience just wasn’t with us in solar performing. You’re just kind of, it’s just

Unknown Speaker
you. Yeah. So that’s the hard part. The great part about it is I you know, it is my show, I have the freedom I wrote it. Yeah, it’s my words, I own it. If you mess up on stage, you know, this is also a thing when you’re working with other people, if you mess up, they kind of have your back. Yeah. So on a solo show, you don’t have that. But you also have the freedom to if you really fuck off, you can start on your own and being like, I just, you know, I had it once I had it last year, actually in Hamilton for the first time. I can recall in five years. I blanked on stage. And this is a show I’ve been doing for so I mean, I blanked like you wouldn’t believe, and it was probably 30 seconds, but it felt in my heart like feels like it felt like time. And that was just a wake up call for me in a really hard moment because I realised oh my god, like, I don’t have anyone that can save me or help me and I’ve worked around it. And in the end it apparently people didn’t really notice, but I noticed. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby
yeah. Yes. It’s funny how much we rely on the performers when we’re working with them. Oh, yeah. And how much? I don’t even know what I’m how I would get out of it. If it comes in.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Oh, it’s hard. So hard. But I also I never call it a solo show anymore. I’m really trying to because so many people have collaborate like they’re you always have so many people collaborate. I mean, I have a director now I have a stage manager. On this particular show. I’ve had a lot of, you know, women I’ve chatted with, so I feel they’re part of the show. I’ve had a couple people read the script who’ve given me some notes, so I never feel it’s fully so long. Yes. You know, there’s it’s just people don’t get seen behind the scenes. I guess

Phil Rickaby
it’s it’s funny because I think that there is a in some cases, there’s a little bit of a stigma about solo shows that maybe it’s in a way that some people introduce them at fringes that you hear about I bicarb goes up when I hear it’s about my struggle with x, where I sort of start wondering, okay, so I’m going to pay you $10. And that’s I’m paying, this is your therapy, and I don’t really want to, like there’s a certain way about it. Do you have a is there a certain way that you approach that when you’re talking to people that vote your show? About how you

Unknown Speaker
know? Yeah, you know, I feel I totally agree with you. And I’m always a little bit there is a part of me that goes, I made the biggest narcissist, why should people come and pay to listen to my story? So I guess, I think and I hope that I create work, although it comes from me, I, I hope, and I set out that people can relate to it and still learn from it, and that they’re feeling the same thing that I’m feeling or whatever. So they can you know, relate to that. But I think there’s people that love the art form of the solo show, I’m one of those, I will go to any I will go see any one person show because I’m in that world. So I love it, even in Toronto theatre. Now, if I see there’s a one person show I’m at it, and some I love and some I think yes, yes, therapy. And I don’t want to see therapy, I try not to create therapy, I’m at least over the issues. I think that’s important. People that haven’t, you know, worked it out yet. And that’s dangerous. But I know there’s people that just taped one person shows and then maybe that’s otherwise not my audience. Or I could try and convince them the con, but I also accept if it’s not their thing, it’s not their thing, you know. And what I try to do is there is also the stigma of the one person show is someone just standing on stage alone, with no props, no costumes, you know, and that’s fine. And I’ve seen some incredible storytellers. And I’m fully with them. But I try and always make them a little bit theatrical as well. Yeah. And I hope that that maybe helps engage the audience as well.

Phil Rickaby
What got you into performing as a solo artist?

Unknown Speaker
Well, for some crazy reason, I do recall, like, in my early 20s, I did want to do a one person show, I was actually in a two woman comedy duo called the burnt marshmallows. And we were together for many years, over six years. And we had a lot of success with that. And we actually got our start in fringe in 2002, doing a show. And I think both my partner and I, at the time, we her and I both wanted to create a one person show, but we didn’t want to do that to the other person. Yeah. And then one day, she decided to up and leave to Vancouver. And I thought, you know, I was very hurt by that and like surprise and upset and like, oh, no, my, you know, my comedy partners leaving. But at the same time, I was like, now it’s time to maybe write a show. So I actually took a completely, I took a complete year off and I went travelling and just popped off and just went, I just gotta go, you know, as we do, I’m gonna go find myself flaky for lack of better words. And when I came back, I just thought it’s just what I have to do. I didn’t know where to start, I was fortunate that some people put me in touch with the right people, I got to chat with some people about where to start. And that just kind of started happening. And I thought the first one was for sure the hardest, I almost lost my mind. It was so hard. It was I still say to this day, it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I thought it was crazy. I lost I you know, I lost sleep. I wasn’t eating, I was just it was so much pressure and stress. And I thought I’m gonna do one and that’s it. But then I just I got the bug for it as well. And then after doing what I thought I have to create another. And I will say that it’s always hard, but it does get a little bit easier. So this being my fourth one now, you know, there’s all the roller coaster ride with any creation of new work, but I’m trusting a little bit it’s going to come together and it has to somehow it’s gonna come together because the other three did like Yeah, well, you know,

Phil Rickaby
you were saying that, in when you were in the comedy duo, you had the idea that you wanted to do so like a solo show? What was it that drew you to that? Do you know?

Unknown Speaker
I’m trying to think back the moment I don’t know what it is. I think I don’t have a reason for that. I think other than I was just in that case, I was always used to performing with somebody else on stage. So it’s like now I always perform alone. And I’m hungry sometimes to do a collaboration with another artist. I think it was just being on stage with one other person person the whole time. But yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t have a moment or something. I was I guess there’s some shows I was inspired by. One of my favourite one woman shows is like Claudia. I saw that I think that was for sure. Something that inspired me. Yeah. That’s probably the most vivid memory of a one person show. I saw that I thought wow, that’s just incredible. And she’s doing it all on her own. So probably some of that as well.

Phil Rickaby
For me it was Reading dynamic covers one person job. I’ve never seen one yes farewell tour a few years ago when I finally saw house, but it was reading it that made me think, Oh, you can actually do this and like, yeah, it’s not stand up comedy. It’s like it’s an absolutely.

Unknown Speaker
I also think, Sandra Shamis influence for me as well. Yeah, I love her work. And I had seen her show, I think at the Winter Garden. Yeah, she’s someone else. So now now that we’re talking about, and I’m like, Oh, yes, that’s what it was. Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby
What was that first show?

Unknown Speaker
So the first show and I still, you know, I still love that show. And that was, I guess, the closest to me that show was chaotic, aka. So it’s about a woman trapped in a board game. And just the reason why I love that show, although I don’t tour it anymore, because it was a nightmare to tour. And it’s very sad when people say to me, Oh, that was your best show. Oh, but no, it just it was a very special show. And I think I was very lucky on the collaboration because I was working with Diana colpack. And I have a huge background and clown and So does she. So we understood the language. And that was just an experience, I probably will never be able to have again, we just were fortunate enough. We were in a studio. We had a lot of time. We had I can’t remember. But we had like a good solid like chunk of time. It wasn’t a rush. It wasn’t a crazy deadline. And we just spent so much time doing exploration. I never sat at the laptop and wrote it. It was all created through improv, which is the way I like to create. I find now I’m a little bit forced to sit at a laptop and take but um, yeah, so that’s what that show was. And I did it. I think it was 27. And I did it. I premiered it at the 2008 London fringe. And that was the only festival I was doing. But I just had so much support behind me. I was very lucky I had, I was the most nervous I could ever imagine. And like I said the creation of that almost killed me. But I know that show was very I know, it was really good. I put everything into that show. My the downside of that show is I never had any idea about Turing, or you know, so I did not create that show with Turing in mind, because it had a huge set. It has a million cues. It’s a very complicated show. So the sad part about it is like That’s why I don’t talk often. And it was very personal. And I think I’ve kind of evolved from it. I have said, I’m going to do like the 10 year anniversary show. I think one time I’d love to do that. So that’s what that show was. And then I did that I think I guess 2008 I did tour it to this nine, which I probably spent most of my money shipping the set in moving trucks around friend. It was crazy. I had no idea what I was

Phil Rickaby
doing you so you hadn’t like did you like rent?

Unknown Speaker
I like I literally I shipped it to I think the Saskatoon fringe, I had to rent a truck to get it to Edmonton. It was like everything that you should not do. I just didn’t know. And how can you know if it’s your first time? Yeah, I had no idea. I had no idea. Absolutely no idea what I was doing. But from that experience, I learned so much. And I also you know, I made no money. I lost money, of course lost so much money. But yeah, that’s how I got kind of really into the fringe bag and the touring. That’s how that came about. But

Phil Rickaby
when you were touring that show, I mean, although a lot of your money was going into like leaving, the audience must you must have, like had enough success with it to like make you think or decide that you can keep you want to keep doing it.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, for sure. Yes. Yeah, definitely. I think I felt I’d conquered something so huge. And I don’t think I give myself enough credit, you know, like, and I think a lot of us as sellers. We don’t, as I was saying, I just read my script today for the first time. And I’ve had some crying moments over it. But like, today I went. I wrote 40 pages. I have a show. Yeah. So I’m starting to be more gracious with that. And yes, if audiences are responding, that show did very well. Yeah. My favourite story is at the Edmonton fringe with chaotic and again, I had no idea what I was doing. I was at the catalyst theatre. And I remember walking to my venue and there’s a lineup going all the way around the venue. And I walked in and I said to the tech, do you have any idea? What’s going on outside? Like, what are they lining up for? And she just looked at each for you. That’s for you. Yeah, I’ll never forget that moment. I was a little bit like, oh my god, I wanted to freak out. It’s like, well, it’s what we want. And then it happens and you’re like, I don’t want this right.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Um, so from from chaotic. Yeah. The second show was

Unknown Speaker
one evening. Yeah. And I also just as a side I do create from what’s going on in my life. Okay. had a co op was about feeling very lost. It was like approaching 30s The chaos of my life. That’s where that came from. When a moon was I didn’t know whether I want to be in a relationship or not. I didn’t really know what I was doing. And then I had kind of met someone. And I thought, yeah, I don’t know where this relationship is going. And you know, I’ve just started thinking about is this it? Or is this not it? Definitely was not it. But that’s that show came about? Yeah, just sort of again, in evolved, I was packing to go on a little holiday by myself. And it looked like it was packing for a honeymoon for one. So that’s where that idea came from. And then I went to the beach, and it’s kind of started writing itself. Significant me was the sequel to one email. And that show came about, I actually started working on that show with someone and I had just started dating my husband, who is now my husband, which is crazy. And he had just moved in. And I remember thinking, Oh, my God, and my son, domestic housewife. Now it felt very strange. But the person I was working on the show with at the time, I said, I want to do a show about a crazy housewife who kills her husband. You know, what do I said this to the guy I was dating was like, Oh, my God, get me out of this relationship. But when we started creating it, she said, it’s just a continuation of honeymoons the same character. So I never set out to do a sequel, right. And we can talk about that, because the sequel is a whole nother thing. Again, pros and cons. And and then this show is called All kidding aside, and this is a show about my conflict of wanting to have a baby or not being a woman who kind of needs to make this decision, but terrified and all the reasons why I don’t but maybe deep down, there’s some part of me that does.

Phil Rickaby
So, moving from that first show to this new show, how is the process changed in terms of how you create the show? Its background?

Unknown Speaker
We can do that. Um, how’s the process change? Well, like I said, I think I prefer to create in a studio and improvise, I think, again, as solo artists, especially those of us who do fringe, we don’t have the time we don’t have the budget. Yeah. So I just got very lucky with that first one. So that’s what I mean. And Diana was great to have on board and she had the time and she wanted to do it out of the goodness of her own heart. So we just had a very special thing. I think once the moon, like now I’ve started to just have to write the more I get the idea to start writing. I don’t I don’t really consider myself a writer, although I’ve can you know, I have written for shows. But definitely I always start with a deadline. That is my I always set out I apply to something I get the date. And then. So that’s how I definitely start my work the deadline. But I say it’s more writing, it’s a little bit more writing than going exploring. Sounds like with you. You’ve written your script, now you’re learning it, and then you’ll go to rehearsal. Yeah, I prefer to still do a lot on its feet. But yeah, there, it’s just I’ve never like I said, I keep saying, I’ve never had that first experience again.

Phil Rickaby
I’ve I mean, for me, I mean, I consider myself more of a writer. Okay, so I mean, working with Keystone deer that’s complete. Yeah, Archer the way that we work with there. But for me, I like to write and know what I’m going to say. And then I like to like to do it. But this is the first time that I’ve written anything that just has like one voice. So it’s

Unknown Speaker
very new. And is it you? Is it actually yours that a character is

Phil Rickaby
the character? Yeah. I mean, there’s elements of me. Yeah. But it’s not something that I ever was like, this is this is me telling the story of my life. It’s completely fictionalised. And the elements that I’ve drawn out, and just to, really, they were I put, initially, I wasn’t gonna put anything on myself. And it was like, No, these are the things that I need from me to make the emotional connection. Yeah, put those in.

Unknown Speaker
Okay. I think I always I mean, you might be the same, but I always collaborate by that. I mean, I always find a director. So that’s something else I can talk about every show I’ve done, I’d find a different director. And I do that, although everyone I’ve worked with has been awesome for that show. And for that time, I just do that because I find it very exciting and interesting to work with somebody new every time. And it really shakes it up and changes up. So I don’t always I never worked with the same director, but I have my mentors and my go to people that I work along the way of, you know, can you listen to this? Or can we just go into a studio one day and play so and with this show now, my director was away for a very long time, but I needed her desperately. So I went to another collaborator, Andy massingham was a great physical theatre performer, which is my background. He said, let’s just go into a studio and play and that’s again what I love doing because I got me away from was writing it and I, I learned a lot from that day of just getting it up on its feet.

Phil Rickaby
And working with your collaborators and all the things that you’ve done. Would you consider going back to work on a new show with somebody that you worked with before? Or do you prefer just to always go with the oh,

Unknown Speaker
I for sure what I mean, everyone that I’ve worked with, I think are awesome people. And Oh, definitely, I think yeah, it’s also just a different time or are they get busy as well? Yeah, so that’s the hard part. But it they’ve I’ve all had positive experiences. So for sure. I think it’s funny because I’ve worked with a very close friend last summer before I went to Edinburgh, my friend Paul, and he kind of came in just to help me with the show. And because he’s also a great friend, we had so much fun. So as much as I love my director now, I just saying I missed like little parts of him for sure. And Michelle, who I’m working with, I’m so fortunate that I found her. I didn’t know her before I went to her on recommendation. So that’s been pretty awesome. We’re getting to know each other, but we didn’t know each other at all before.

Phil Rickaby
Which show did you take to Edinburgh?

Unknown Speaker
Wanting moon? Yeah.

Phil Rickaby
How was your How was your Edinburgh experience? Because of all the festivals that I can think of? I mean, I can think of all the Canadian ones. And Edmonton still freaks me out. And Winnipeg feels a little more like a little more comfortable to me for some reason, but Edmonton scares the crap out of me. Edinburgh. Oh, that one makes me want to pee myself.

Unknown Speaker
Okay, well, I have to So going back. I’ll say my favourite festival in the whole world is still the Edmonton Fringe Festival. And I think that came from that was a big major festival. I took chaotic for that. I just got so lucky. But there’s something I just love about the festival and I actually haven’t been back in many years and it’s killing me. Yeah. And I didn’t get in this year. I got offered to do but yeah, a BYOB it was gonna cost me way too much money. So I’m not now having done at Amara, I’m not to take away from Edmonton and Winnipeg at all. But I will laugh if I were to turn back to Edmonton or Winnipeg, I would just laugh and go, This festival is so small, you know, so that that definitely that was the positive. I mean, Edinburgh was the mother of all of all fringes. Yeah. I again, just got fortunate, I think I did it very smart. I did what was called the free Festival, the pbh. Free fringe. So for my first time going, I wanted to go as a tourist who got to be in Edinburgh for a month who got to do my show. And who got to see as much theatre as possible. I was one of the reasons I went. I didn’t care as much as though I, I you know, I should have or I didn’t care about landing a world tour, I didn’t care about the producers seeing me as the next big thing. I just didn’t think that that was going to happen. No one knew who I was. So I went on the smallest investment possible, I had to pay for airfare and a place to live, which was all very expensive. But I didn’t pay for a venue, right. So through the free fringe, they give you a venue. It’s not going to be great. Again, when I first saw the venue, I almost cried. But then I have to say it grew on me it was a nightclub. And then I have to say they put up some curtains and a backdrop. And by the end, I loved it. And it worked out. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. And my last show I was I was like crying. I didn’t want to leave. And yeah, and then it was like busking. So every night people put money in your hat. So that was the experience. i Yeah, so I didn’t sell tickets. So it’s literally a free friend. It’s a free French and no one oh, you know, but you learn about a spiel. At the end, I learned so much about that about exactly how to you know, give this talk at the end of the show to get the most bang for your buck and to get the most money. And that was really fun to me is every night trying something different going Oh, wow. Tonight I went made way more money than last night. The biggest fear in Edinburgh was because you don’t sell tickets, you have no idea who is coming. You have no idea when the door opens. And when there’s you know, 3000 shows. Yeah, you don’t know if anyone is going to be at your show. And that was I just have that problem all the time. But I have to say considering I was told I would have audiences of two and then that would be a good night. And my smallest was 10 ever. And on average I was playing I was playing to like 50 People like yeah, I felt it was really good. But should I go back I would find a way I guess I don’t know where I’d get this money from but to really invest and to get a publicist and to get into one of the main venues and to do all the you know, bells and whistles but at the same time. It’s such a huge investment. I don’t have $20,000 to invest in that. And so yeah,

Phil Rickaby
what’s the biggest lesson that you learned from Edinburgh?

Unknown Speaker
I can tell you that I would say, I feel that I can now that show in particular, but I find with anything having done wanting, then I feel I could do that show now, anywhere, anywhere. And I could make it work if I showed up somewhere and they said, Here’s your garage, and we have no lights and no sound. I could pop up that show. I just feel like gave me so much adaptability. Endurance, you had to go on every night. Yeah, every night. You know, here, we’re used to fringe seven show. Yeah. 22 shows. Person pursuing performance through complete exhaustion. Yeah. Yeah, and it just a lot of confidence. I mean, I did it. And I also set out to do it. And I did it. And I lived to tell the tale. So and I always say about Edinburgh, regardless of what is going on, because there are some very hard days, it is the most beautiful city, I just, I fell in love with that city. So on your worst day possible, I would just stop and give myself a shake and be like, Look at the castle right there. Like, look where you are, look what you know, so and I would recommend it to anyone to either go and see it or just to be in it. You know, learn to

Phil Rickaby
get to be the tourist that you want to Oh, for

Unknown Speaker
sure. Not not so much during Yeah. But I took a few days in the end, and I did everything I wanted to do. And I saw so much, you know. And that’s the other thing in Edinburgh, the show that you pay 30 pounds for ends up not being really great. And some of the best work I saw was two o’clock in a pub. I walked by and someone begged me to come watch them. And I did and I went this performer is incredible. And why aren’t they playing to 200 people? So that’s really cool about it as well.

Phil Rickaby
Just to go back a little even further than Why did you get into solar performing? What was it as a that drew you into the theatre?

Unknown Speaker
Um, great. Well, I grew up my whole life in dance. I was put Okay, in dance. So it wasn’t all that competitive jazz tap ballet, you know, so I really do enjoy dance. Oh, I loved it. Okay, and it’s so part of my work now. Like it made me a physical performer, which is my favourite thing. No, I love dance. I just deep down. I love being onstage even that and so I always had that I was I was a shy kid. But I loved performing. I was the kid that always made up little plays at the dinner table and did a lot of that stuff. So I think I just didn’t have time for it because I was so committed in this dance world. So I think you know, I took drama in high school, all of that. So I just I loved I loved getting up and yeah, I guess after high school, then I had to sort of make a choice. And I decided to you know, as much as I love dance, I I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional dancer. I just knew that I just didn’t have you know, especially ballerina. It’s just a whole nother set of chops. Yeah, so I just went to theatre school and, and then it was at Theatre School that again, I always thought I’d be a dramatic actress like I had plans of I would love to do Stratford Festival and then I got into improv. When an improv teacher from Second City come to teach us improv Theatre School, and just fell in love with it. I loved doing comedy and thinking on my feet, creating characters. And then that’s where I’m at my comedy partner. And so my, it just took a different journey than I ever thought and even, you know, I never thought it’d be doing solo shows. It’s just kind of weird how, you know, a door opens and you go through that door. Yeah. Well, what’s the theatre

Phil Rickaby
school that you went to?

Unknown Speaker
Oh, so I went. I moved from Kitchener Waterloo area when I was 19. I moved to Toronto I did one year at George Brown. They had a programme called AIPAC, which is introduction to performing arts, which oddly enough, I just got to go speak at George Brown last week with the same artistic director who brought me in to talk to all of the students about solo creation. So that was pretty cool. And then I went to Randolph. So I went to Randolph and I think that came from the dance. Yes. Well, yeah. So the story at Randolph is I was a dancer and an actor, and I cannot sing. And at Randolph at that time, I think it’s changed but they really valued good singers. So it actually didn’t matter if you could dance or act. Right. If you were a great singer, they would just sing your praises. And, yeah, so that happened as well. And then on top of it, I just, as I said, I got really to improv. I went to Second City and I did the conservatory. And I continued to take every class at equity showcase. And then I took a clown workshop with Sue Morrison, which was a weekend intro thing that I just thought I’ll try this and then I got bitten by that bug. And then fell in love with clown and then made that, you know, something they pursued. So yeah, just

Phil Rickaby
I always shake my head about clown. Just because not because I think it’s bad. I think we’ve we live in a society that doesn’t value our clowning not affected. The popular thing is Ooh, clowns, as soon as they freak me Oh, and it’s just this ridiculous thing where I think that people think of the clown as they think creepy circus. Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker
I teach it now. And that’s the first thing my students say. And I also, I mean, I’m dying to actually create a full clown show, like wearing the red nose. I’ve never done that, even though my passion is clown. And I think my reason behind it is I cannot put a poster up with me wearing a red nose. I just don’t think that’s very tricky to market. You know, I mean, unless you’ve already got a name like Mauro and jazz, you’ve done great things. And I think they have a following. And that’s awesome. So, you know, they’ve built that. But again, if maybe if you didn’t know them, and you knew nothing about cloud, I wouldn’t understand what that is.

Phil Rickaby
That’s also I mean, you also got somebody like Rebecca Northern. Oh, yeah. Like, she’s another one. But yeah, she’s got like, this great show that she does. And I mean, her show, I think stands out, because she doesn’t look like she’s not creepy clown. Right. Sexy clown. Yeah. Which I think takes a little bit off that, but people have this this real?

Unknown Speaker
Oh, yeah. I know. It’s terrible. It’s terrible. But um, yeah, that bugs me about cloud. When I when I, I always say to people, my cloud on my, sorry, my solo work is always rooted in cloud. Like, I’m always my clown in my show. Now, I know that I don’t know if that comes up. I don’t expect that to come across the audience. I know that. So funny enough of the show, now, you know, my director just the other day, like she thought, would you want to do this in clown, like, just a suggestion. And I thought, why didn’t I even think of that? I mean, I’m not going to do that. But I also what I always do is at least once I take I wear I get into clown and I wear the red nose and I run through my show, because I just think I can get so much out of it. You know? Again, this shows a little bit different style. I think the show is way more me and more vulnerable and more honest. That’s why it’s scary. But yeah, it’s I think it’s very hard to market market clown. It’s kind of it’s very unfortunate, and it’s sad. But you know, Helen Donnelly has done some amazing stuff. I think she’s very fortunate at Toronto festival of clowns. Of course, everyone wants to go and see it. They’re part of a clown festival. But you know, I’ve talked a little bit about her as well as like she said, I don’t know how to market my, my show. She struggled with that a little bit as well.

Phil Rickaby
Well, that I mean, that is that is the trick is that if you like how do you sell? How do you sell clown? Yeah, I don’t know what the answer. Yeah. Because people see that red nose. And they really like to say that they don’t want to see Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, it’s very unfortunate. Because there are there’s so much good word. There’s so much good work. Yeah. I mean, the other option is just to do a clown show and not and not

Phil Rickaby
have the Redman No. Started with Keystone does Yeah. But it’s it’s still like, we don’t have that stigma because people see the white. They’re more likely to think mine than

Unknown Speaker
they are today. Right. But you probably had some trouble marketing that at times as well. Sometimes,

Phil Rickaby
people will. For Keystone people see the white face and they think it’s just my MO I don’t like mine. Yeah, this is like, a completely different thing that I don’t like clown.

Unknown Speaker
I know. But I think people just need to watch saying they don’t like something before now. It’s like even there are a lot of people that walk around like I don’t like solo shit. Yeah, thank you. And it’s think, well, maybe give it a chance. But unfortunately, and especially at Fringe. You know, this is what’s dangerous if someone’s never gone to a fringe show before. And what’s supposed to be so amazing about fringe is that you Yeah, you take risks and you walk into a show and you pay $10 That’s it. But if you walk into you know your first clown show and it’s bad or you walk into a your first solo show is awful. That’s gonna deter you from course the rest of your life. So that’s that’s what’s unfortunate also, you know, but I I would never close the door on anything. You know, I mean, sci fi isn’t really my thing. But when there was a show getting a lot of buzz in Edinburgh, and I thought, okay, it’s you know, and I went and saw it. And yeah, it wasn’t my thing by that it wasn’t my topic but these two guys were fantastic and they had a great show I can still appreciate two amazing performers and show that they’ve created yeah

Phil Rickaby
all for all kidding aside he talks about how it’s different from what yeah, you’re talking it. It sounds like your previous shows although they were they came from you. They were more there was more artifice or something they were written

Unknown Speaker
in the character I called myself a character I think a lot came from it was like an exaggerated version of myself almost a clown when I would say it was like the clown version of me. So this show, I don’t haven’t Ain’t my character, let’s say nothing can see me. I’m doing quotations. Um, it’s just it’s way more. It is me it’s more crystal. by that. I mean, it’s I feel it’s crystal onstage telling her her story. And I think, for example, one a moon, I didn’t marry myself, it was the character of deception, but it came from my fears around marriage. So that’s the difference. But this show is really me just telling it. I think we’re still playing a little bit, because in previous kind of read throughs of chunks of the script, I felt almost uncomfortable sharing a lot of it. Oh, yeah. You know, it is very scary and vulnerable. And we talked about, well, what if I went back to playing a character? You know, what, if it would that help me that I call myself, Sandy, that, you know, so I’m still playing with that a little bit. But I think it doesn’t matter. I think people that know me really know me might come to the show and just see me as Oh, this is Crystal show telling her story. But I think if you don’t know me, you don’t really know if it’s me or a character. So it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s more my own fears of revealing things about myself, if that makes sense.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s something about and the difficulty with being a solo performer in that way, I think is the idea of revealing too much about yourself to a roomful of people who don’t know you like you. In some ways, you’re telling things telling a roomful of people who don’t know things that you wouldn’t be comfortable telling your best friend sometimes

Unknown Speaker
that’s so true. And and No, and it’s so crazy, but and then for some reason, I’m actually very comfortable on stage, telling them it’s the before and it’s during the creation of the writing that I’m in my head freaking out. But yeah, but that that’s a great point. I know. And I think also the dangerous people, regardless, after they see your show, they think they know everything about you. Of course, of course. So that’s the other danger. It’s like no, I didn’t really mean that or okay, I exaggerated that part. I don’t really think that it was just that made it more, you know, made more sense for the dramaturgy of the show or whatever, town. Yeah, what are we supposed to do about

Phil Rickaby
it? Because when you’re like, there’s something I think about the solo performance where people more than if they see an ensemble, so no, most people who see an ensemble, so don’t think that the people they’re seeing are the characters, you know, yes. But in solo, so because it’s just you, I think there’s more of that idea that oh, this is like all completely autobiographical or something like that.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Yeah, I know, I know. That’s always the case. Although I’ve also seen some solo shows, where I guess I now have my head. Of course, they’re all autobiographical. Like we sort of have that idea in our head. So I remember seeing a show once. Yeah, I saw a whole show about someone disclosing that they were gay, you know, and sort of, and this whole story, and then, at the end, I thought, and I kind of knew him. And I thought after Oh, wow. So brave and powerful. And I had no idea he was gay. And then I talked about he’s like, Oh, no, no, that’s none of it’s true. It’s just a made up story. And then there was a whole nother part of me that felt a little bit like, let down are what I was, I was confused, you know? Well, because

Phil Rickaby
he, you felt like he revealed something. Yeah. Because you seem that now you’re feeling a little bit closer to him. And then to find out that it’s completely made.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it was weird. And there was another show like that. Oh, my God, I feeling a little hesitant. People are gonna recognise these shows. But I do remember there’s another show, a one man show very well done. And very powerful story. And I think all of us touring artists, we all bought into it. Even though we had been touring with this person for years. We just and then we learned after like it was a made up story. But I think because we knew him. And there was like, some parts, some parts. We totally bought into it. So I don’t know, I don’t know what the answer is. But there’s a little bit like, what I don’t know, you know, I

Phil Rickaby
think that I kind of feel like, and maybe this comes from the work with Keystone versus we don’t have words, we just have to accept that the audience gets from the show what they get from the show, yes, that you have to just accept, I think you have to, I mean, as somebody who hasn’t performed my show yet, but I think that that the audience gets from what they get from it, and you have to just accept that that’s what they’re taking

Unknown Speaker
from it. Absolutely. Everyone’s gonna take something different. Although I think I try and set out and have a message in my head, like, what am I trying to say? But yeah, everyone’s gonna take something different from it. And, you know, as we know, there’s gonna be people it’s gonna resonate, they’re gonna like it and not everyone’s gonna like your show. And with this show, too, I think, you know, my intention is not to offend anyone. And you know, I’m really disclosing a lot about the reasons why a big part of me why I might not want to have children, but I’m not sending out to offend anyone. No, it’s my story. But if you take offence offence because I say that I don’t like toddlers running around screaming if you take offence like,

Phil Rickaby
I, you know, I mean that many people do enjoy toddlers running around so right I know. Look, if somebody can be offended by somebody something they are probably going to be Yeah, we live in a society where people are just offended by things.

Unknown Speaker
I know. I know. So we can’t we can’t control that about everybody. Yeah, I don’t know if you’re because I don’t know your show either. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this. But I, I have a terrible habit of doing this. And I’m trying not to have a trying to almost project what I think the audience is going to take away from it. Or, Oh, this is what I want the audience to walk away from? And I’m trying not to do that, because that’s quite dangerous. Yeah, you know, and like you said, everyone’s gonna take something different from it. So for

Phil Rickaby
me in writing this this show, I’ve been trying to. I’ve been conscious about what I’m putting out there. But I don’t want them to take away from it. But I’m not I don’t want to. I don’t want them. I don’t want to, I don’t want to try to control what I think they’re going to take from it. Okay, I think I’m just I just want to perform this show. Yeah, whatever they take from it, they’ll take from it.

Unknown Speaker
I think that’s at the end of the day. That’s all we can we want to have to think about. Why do we want to do this? You know, I have so many reasons why I want to do the show that it feels like the timing is now I gotta do it. And I’m excited by it. And you know, at the end, that’s what we got to do.

Phil Rickaby
Are you finding any? And like, obviously, these are big questions that you’re asking himself in the show? Are you controlling where you think you want the show to go? Or is or is it? Are you still in a really?

Unknown Speaker
Not? You’re ending? No, not? No, because there’s, you know, I think there’s some good twists in the show for sure. I’m just being a bit hesitant. So I don’t know, it’s bad. I just don’t wanna give too much away. But I think it’s, well, the show originally, I’ll just say for a long time was called on the fence. That was the working title for a very long time. And then I just realised that was just hitting it over the head too much. It was like, right, that just says everything was I like, all kidding aside, it’s a bit of a wordplay. You know, I don’t know. So the conflict is whether I have a baby or not. So I think that is the conflict. That’s what the show is about. And it’s all the reasons why and, and all the reasons not to or, or that I should. And so what’s interesting about again, this show is there isn’t really an answer yet, because I still don’t know. Right? So that’s kind of in the exploration as well. It’s an ending in itself. Absolutely. So I think that’s what I’m discovering. I mean, I have, I’m still playing a little bit with the climax of the conflict. But the conflict is throughout the whole show. I guess my challenge with this show, I’ll just talk about this for a moment is, and maybe you’ve thought about this for your own show, you have to start to think about your market or who your target audience is. And I just know with my shows, I never set out to do this. But my show always resonates more with women. I’ve had a lot of men that have enjoyed it. And for sure, but definitely, it’s a lot of women. And then I for a long time, I was worried about that. Or like, oh, I should create more of a universal show. Why don’t we keep creating the show for women? Well, then I thought, Who buys the tickets to the theatre? Usually women, they often drag along their man with them. So it’s often women. And if I can fill seats with women, that’s okay. I just got I mean, that’s okay. Right? Because I remember seeing women fully clothed. Yeah. And I remember I saw them many years ago, and it was the whole audience was like, 5050, half men, half women. And then I started seeing them more and more, it was just filled with women, but they always packed the house and they’re always sold out. And I thought, who it doesn’t matter if it’s sold out with a man or it’s sold out with women?

Phil Rickaby
And you know what, I don’t think we need more audiences filled with men watching plays by men. If your play speaks to women, then

Unknown Speaker
yeah, embrace that. But yeah, so I’m just kind of figuring that out. I think you’re probably at the stage show. I’m just learning how to you know, I’m trying to figure this out a how to market again the solo show and get people interested in it and why they need to listen to my story, but also kind of, yeah, I’m still shaping what is the show about and yeah, why should people come and see it? Like when you’re in early stages of your show? You don’t know yet?

Phil Rickaby
I still don’t I like and of course friends. The festivals are always like, tell us your target audiences and that’s what I’m like, I have to choose a target like, I don’t know people who like stuff. Yeah. I know the marketing stuff

Unknown Speaker
that I know I just had to do you know, and yeah, I think for Toronto already, like I had to send my image. So um, so I luckily organised this photo shoot way back when just knowing that it was going to tick tock right, you know, it’s not a great photo shoot and Kurt for a lot has been amazing is like working on my image, but I find that the worst part they’re asking you for the stuff in February and I’m like, Yeah, you know, I Remember my title I just said I had to I think I asked for an extension. And like, look, I really just don’t know what my title is. And I, I can’t decide by 5pm tonight. This is a you know, this is a big deal. This is flashed across every poster. It’s in every, this is what I have to call my show for the next long time. You know, you can’t

Phil Rickaby
really read like what’s done this show, you can’t really rename it.

Unknown Speaker
I know, I thought that too. I know. It’s weird, right? So I had to make sure it was something

Phil Rickaby
that fit but that’s always queued up Toronto and Hamilton. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
no. So this is the first year and oh my god since like, 2009, that I’m not on a longer tour. And of course, last year, I was away all August. So you know, I’m definitely I wish I was doing one more like Edmonton or whatever. But at the same time, I’m really looking forward to the summer of being around in August, the first time around, I’m lucky with some one even gigs, ironically in August. And they’ve asked for a 90 minute version of the show. So the cool thing is I get to kind of, you know, rework that show again, because it’s that 60 minutes, but I’ve got a lot of excess material. Do you like

Phil Rickaby
it? Is that the idea of extending it? Is that is that? Do you? Is that fun to you or

Unknown Speaker
not? It’s really fun for? No, the only reason it’s fun is because I have one even I have significantly and already what I did for Edinburgh is I matched the two shows together, I wanted to have the best arc possible. So the downside of that is I think I would have had way more bookings, because I could have done one a moon and then I could have said, and I have the sequel, of course now I’ve been doing this version for so long that it’s just the version that it is it’s 60 minutes, you get two shows for the price of one, let’s say. So the good thing is I have a lot of material, right? Tackle them a two hour show. So I’m not worried about material. I don’t think I have to rewrite anything. It’s just finding again the arc. And they want an intermission so I’ve never had it. So

Phil Rickaby
that’s even worse. Yeah. When you build something for fringe, you’re doing it now. I

Unknown Speaker
know I drew and I think I think I’m not thinking about it. I can’t even start to think about it until I’ve opened to this show, of course. So but yeah, I think you know, we’re going to put a tonne of work into this I open at Toronto, that’s going to be the most nerve wracking, it’s gonna be scary. And then I get to do Hamilton. And then I just think after that, you know, I get to just breathe for a bit and let it just sit and reevaluate the show. And yeah, so I think maybe it’ll be nice to be around the summer and see what else happens and just to be around with family and friends and just kind of explore Toronto in August. I think that’ll be okay. And I still get to do two festivals and stick around. Perfect. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby
Are you are you commuting to Hamilton? Are you just gonna Are you gonna?

Unknown Speaker
Well, well, what I do is I’m Are you commuting?

Phil Rickaby
I’m gonna I’m staying. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
I am. My parents live about 25 minutes inside of Hamilton. And so it’s been kind of fun. The last few times I’ve done Hamilton, I actually have a great time staying there. Yeah. They live in the country. And it’s like, there’s a pool and it’s just really nice property. So it’s kind of like, you know, working vacation, so I often stay there but I think I know a few people in Hamilton that they’ve always offered like, Hey, if you want to stay overnight tonight and hang out with everyone, but I don’t really commute to Toronto I think that’s too much.

Phil Rickaby
I kind of thought that if I’m gonna do the a fringe even if it’s in commuting distance, I should do that fringe and like commit to like helicopter again for my show and then helicopter. Yeah, but I should just like be there for the whole

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, I found it a little like last year I went with a purpose. I it was my preview to Edinburgh I had 11 shows there. So that was my mission. I just was like going and doing the show and then constantly reworking it. So I I didn’t care so much about the Hangout that was in my you know, which is very rare for me but um, no, I think I’ll be around I think yeah, I agree with you. It’s nice to kind of be part of that committee and I always so enjoy going to see other people’s work and yeah, and everything so and Toronto you know, just my rule of thumb is unfortunately I will not be seeing anything until I just until I have a few under my under my belt until I can’t You can’t

Phil Rickaby
like if you’re not if your show is like new and you’re still getting it under the belt you can’t put other people’s stuff and you

Unknown Speaker
know and I you know and then then I’m just a terrible Audience Member I’m watching their show having a freakout or running my own line. So but again with one event I just because I can do that show in my in my sleep, you know, I love when I roll to a festival and I’m like, it’s I can go see a show right before mine. Like I’m at that point with that show, you know, not right before but like, oh, yeah, I sure I can go see that. And then I’ve got an hour between mine. But with a new show. There’s no There’s no way so I’m hoping I don’t know I get a little bit more comfortable. But Halton for sure. I think oh, I’ll hopefully have some time and feel good. After building a system and Hamilton smaller so you can, you know, see stuff I still find Toronto overwhelming. There are so many shows. And then as you have the same problem, you have about 100 people in

Phil Rickaby
Toronto is the like, how do you see? Everybody’s got a show? How do you see all the shows for all your friends and still see other Oh, it’s crazy.

Unknown Speaker
And it’s just too much and I fringe guilt all the time I suffer from extreme fringe guilt. I just do think we all do. It’s just and then you know, it’s like, I think I’m trying to get better with that because I never take offence. If someone can’t see my show, I get it. But it’s still, I always dread. I always talked about the last night at the fringe tent. That closing night party like,

Phil Rickaby
Oh, I’m sorry to get see. I

Unknown Speaker
know. It’s like, oh, how is this party fun? All we’re doing is apologising. Last night,

Phil Rickaby
I think we have to accept the fact that we’re all trying to get people to see our show. Yeah, that’s a business. Yeah. It’s nice to see a few shows, but we can’t see everybody show especially for in the free.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it’s really hard. Yeah. Although at the same time, like, you know, like, it’s almost like last year, I think even though I wasn’t in it, I just still couldn’t, I was going to see as much as possible in the time that I had. And I still, you know, there’s one or two you don’t see and it just kills you and you feel like Oh, my God, they’re never gonna talk to me again. It’s just ridiculous. But I think someone who’s in it and really understands they would never

Phil Rickaby
remember all that again. Yeah. Where can we find you online?

Unknown Speaker
Um, great question. No, I’m at I just have my website, which I have to admit, I need to update. I think I’ve been so busy writing my show. So I’m not the most tech savvy with my website, but just crystal Bartell z.com Yes. So I as I said, I’m doing the Toronto fringe Terragen extra space. And then I’m in the Hamilton the staircase theatre. And as another just little plug, I’m doing one a moon one night in Toronto, Friday, May 13 930 at the John Candy Box Theatre, because I haven’t done that show in Toronto in years and years and years. I just wanted to do it once. I also just want people to see it. The show that I have done for a long time before they see that I have no idea what it’s gonna be. Yeah, yeah.

Phil Rickaby
Do you think that you’re kind of like, in your in your, in your mind? You’re sort of like padding? Like, see, this one’s good. I don’t know what this one. Yeah, yeah. Well,

Unknown Speaker
I think we I think we do that. But I’m feeling confident. I think the new I just as we talked about, I just think people need to understand, you know, is a new word. And I’m not saying that to make excuses. It’s just a new work it took you know what a moon took five years, I still continue to rewrite it like it’s never it’s a work. It’s a never ending work. So that’s just the way the kind of artist I am. So with this show, I’m super excited to do it. I’m feeling ready to do it not ready. Right. But I will be ready. Um, but I think people just have to understand that but yeah, and and it is what it is, and it’s gonna keep evolving and changing. And at the end of the day, you know, there’s so many great artists, but there’s also so many people that wouldn’t dare to do a one person show. So we also have to give yourself a pat on the back that we’re doing it. Exactly. Yeah, Crystal. Thank you so much. Hey, thank you.

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