LET'S SET THE WORLD ON WHEELS
Ride on with us throughout the countryside,
With comedies and tragedies galore;
Four actors upon bikes are wont to ride,
With legs exhausted and with bottoms sore.
A journey thorough bush and thorough briar,
On a-roads, b-roads, cycle-paths we steer.
On pedalled steeds we stow all we require –
Set, props and costumes, scripts and camping gear.
Hey ho, the wind and rain may slow our ride,
Our chains may bear the whips and scorns of grime,
But this dry-witted, wet quartet provide
A stonking, bonkers, entertaining time.
So join this ped’ling Shakespeare troupe anon,
The HandleBards: ride on, dear friends, ride on.
The HandleBards began because adventures are fun – we love to explore. We are four-strong troupes of cycling actors who carry with us all of the necessary set, props and costume to perform extremely energetic, charmingly chaotic and environmentally sustainable Shakespeare plays across the globe.
In 2013, we embarked on our first cycling theatre tour, pedalling Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night 967 miles from Glasgow to London performing at diverse outdoor venues across the UK. In 2014, we cycled 2000 miles across the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium performing Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors to over 6000 people at 50 venues. The shows received critical acclaim from London press (“back to basics storytelling in the best way” – WhatsOnStage), regional press (“chaotic, clever & charming” – The Shields Gazette), and Edinburgh Fringe reviewers (★★★★★ – Broadway Baby). We won the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award from Creative Carbon Scotland; which assessed sustainable design, communication of sustainable message and a high-quality production.
We then worked on a number of events in London (Greenwich Theatre, Pleasance, VAULT Festival) in early 2015, before embarking on a UK-wide tour of schools. Immediately afterwards, we took the shows to theatres in Bangalore and to the Harare International Festival of Arts (“one of HIFA’s most raved about shows” – Harare News).
That summer, we returned to the UK for our third annual summer cycling tour, this time pedalling A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet 1500 miles from London to Edinburgh performing, over the course of 65 shows, to over 10,000 people. Again, these shows received critical acclaim from national press (★★★★ – The Stage), regional press (★★★★★ – The Shields Gazette), and Edinburgh Fringe reviewers (★★★★ – Broadway Baby).
Upon reaching Edinburgh, and the Edinburgh Fringe, we shook things up a bit by organising The HandleBards: Secret Shakespeare (★★★★★ – TV Bomb), which saw us provide our audiences with bicycles so that they could cycle with us through Edinburgh to a hidden location to watch us perform an (until then) undisclosed Shakespeare. We were shortlisted for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award again.
Since then, we’ve completed another tour of UK schools, and performed the shows in India, Singapore, Malaysia & Myanmar. 2016 was our most ambitious year yet, as we had not one but two HandleBards troupes on the road – and four brand new shows for our 4 for 400 season (in celebration of Shakespeare’s 400 year anniversary).
In 2017, the boys are breathing new life into A Midsummer Night’s Dream, whilst the girls are pedalling As You Like It across the UK. You can get tickets for both these shows, here!
Our Current Shows
SOME THINGS WE CARE ABOUT
We think that sleep can wait. We love to explore. We love to find the funny.
We’re very inquisitive souls, and we realise that we’re not going to learn anything from slopping about on the sofa. So instead we prefer to say “yes” and just go for it! It’s probably this mentality that’s lead to us cycling around the world to perform Shakespeare.
This one’s pretty obvious. We wouldn’t be here without him.
He introduced 3000 new words to the English language, and we think his vocabulary ranged from between 17,000 to 23,000 words – that’s double the number of words used by the average conversationalist…
Duh. They get us from A to B. Who doesn’t love a good old bicycle?
The best news is that we’ve got better at using them over the years. It’s been only an upward curve from our very first cycle when we broke two wheels, a trailer attachment and our director’s coccyx.
We’re incredibly proud of our environmental conscience.
Last year we saved 50.2 tonnes of CO2 by travelling by bike, and were rewarded when we won the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award. In 2017, we were also nominated for The Stage’s Sustainability Award.
We’ll continue doing everything we can to promote sustainability and a greener future, and hope that you’ll be inspired to do your part too. Why not cycle to one of our shows instead of driving?
FRESH FROM THE HANDLEBARD BLOG