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. As a repertory company, we were formed in 2012 by Paul Moss, Callum Cheatle, Tom Dixon and Callum Brodie.

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.

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 breathed new life into A Midsummer Night’s Dream, whilst the girls pedalled As You Like It across the UK, and then to India, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and Bali.

This year, the boys will be performing Twelfth Night, whilst the girls are rejuvenating Romeo and Juliet. You can get tickets for both these shows, here!

Our Current Shows

SOME THINGS WE CARE ABOUT

Adventures

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.

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…

Bicycles

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.

The Environment

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?

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FRESH FROM THE HANDLEBARD BLOG

Meet The Boys: Say hello to our 2018 all-male troupe!

The Sun’s back out, and this time it means business. And so do we: our Boys are rehearsing, the bikes are almost ready, and the open road awaits… While we cook up a riotously funny Twelfth Night for your delectation, meet the men who will play all – yes all –
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Meet The Girls: Introducing our 2018 all-female troupe

  We’re thrilled to be able to introduce our 2018 all-female troupe! They applied in their hundreds, they auditioned by the dozen, but only four were chosen to revive our ‘seriously silly’ production of Romeo & Juliet for our 2018 UK tour. Meet your 2018 Girls, see what other acting
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Words, Words, Words: Power Plays

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the last two years, you’ll have noticed that global politics is, well, how to put this lightly? Global politics is in a bit of a pickle. In some ways we’re in an unprecedented (or is that unpresidented?) era of political unrest. In
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Cycling Across the UK: A Bard Remembers

    Hi! I’m Jess. I’ve just finished performing The HandleBards’ all-female version of As You Like It which we cycled across the UK in Summer 2017 and then recently revived to take to schools, theatres and festivals all over India and South-East Asia. We were happy to be away during the rain
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Words, Words, Words: Romeo & Juliet

Alas! O me! O woe! UK Shakespeare Week is over (boo!), but World Theatre Day is just around the corner (yay!). To help you bridge the theatrical gap we’ve put together another instalment of  Words, Words, Words, delving into some more of the Bard’s delightfully delicious wordery. This week, Nel
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On quoting Shakespeare this Shakespeare Week.

How much Shakespeare do you think you speak every day? None? Some? maybe you speak in perfect blank verse…? Whatever your estimate, we Handlebards reckon you’re speaking a lot of Will’s words without even knowing it. And as it’s Shakespeare Week in the UK, here’s Bernard Levin’s brilliant guide to
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SOME OF THE AWESOME PEOPLE WE WORK WITH...

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  • “Gloriously eccentric and very very funny.”

    The Stage

  • “I have never seen a version as outrageous, or as uproariously funny.”

    Sir Ian McKellen

  • “Unmissable.”

    Broadway Baby

  • “Consistently hilarious…crackers and cracking!”

    York Press

ARE YOU FROM THE PRESS?

It’s a pleasure to meet you! We’ve put together lots of downloadable resources for you.
And if there’s anything else you need, please just shout!

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