November 28, 2015


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Winnipeg Fringe Festival

Four characters, eight sexual encounters come full Circle via Skype rehearsals

LONG DISTANCE: It often takes months of rehearsal to create a believable emotional connection between two characters during a performance.

But Christel Bartelse had to develop her relationship with her co-star long distance, so to speak. Bartelse, along with Bob Brader, look at eight different sexual encounters between four characters in Circle.

The two met on the fringe circuit, and that's where they started working together on the play, written by Brader's wife, Suzanne Bachner. Rehearsing was a problem because Bartelse lives in Toronto but Brader and Bachner hail from New York.

The solution, Bartelse says, was to rehearse either by phone or Skype, in between visiting each other once every two months. Even costumes had to be organized that way.

"I was buying things and sending pictures to (Bachner) in the change room to see if she liked it," Bartelse says.

But the long breaks, even with regular long-distance rehearsals, often stalled progress on the show, she says.

"We'd take leaps and bounds, and then another 20 steps back," she said.

After performing the play for a while, Bartelse says she is confident the connection works.

"It's very rewarding, but when I look back at all those Skype rehearsals... it was a lot of back and forth," she says.

HOOPING AWAY: Lisa Lottie's career as a street performer and hula-hoop artist started almost poetically. Living in England with no real plans for the future, she says she was approached one day and handed a hula hoop. A week later, the woman who handed her the hoop came back with a job offer.

"They said to me, 'I've just been (asked) if I want to join a circus in India... but I can't do it because it pays in Indian money, but maybe it's something you would want to do,'" Lottie says.

So she ran away with the circus.

"From being completely not very physical and not having very much direction in my life, I went to training three hours a day, four hours a day, five hours a day," she says.

And after spending almost nine years touring the world and performing, she says she can't picture herself doing anything different.

"I don't think there's any doubt that this is what I need to do with my life," she says.

AUDIENCE ATTENDANCE: Wednesday night was a strong night for the fest. A total of 4,075 people attended the shows, which is higher than last year's 3,782, but not quite enough to break the festival record of 4,148. One record was smashed: Seven shows were sold out opening night.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 0

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