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Beautifully British and bonkers – this summer, the HandleBards, a fourstrong, all-male troupe of cycling players, will pedal the length and
breadth of the UK for three months to perform fast-pace productions of
Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Comedy Of Errors. This will be the second
outing of their World First in environmentally sustainable touring theatre,
after they successfully toured productions of Twelfth Night and Romeo
and Juliet last year.
To add to the challenge, the HandleBards, who will all be riding bicycles
provided by the fashionable Luv Handles Bike Boutique, are carrying all
the required set, props, costumes and camping equipment for the 2000
mile journey on their bikes, with no back-up vehicle in support.
Above (L to R): Callum Brodie, Tom Dixon, Paul Moss & Callum Cheatle
Starting in London on 28th May, the HandleBards are passing through almost 50 venues across Scotland and England. These are
excitingly diverse, ranging from castles and country houses to cycle shops and even an old RN frigate – HMS Unicorn, which is
currently docked in Dundee. They will stop off at Harewood House in Yorkshire for the Tour De France Grand Départ and the Royal
Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh for the Fringe. They are also performing at The Dell in Stratford-upon-Avon (the Royal Shakespeare
Company’s outdoor playing space) and Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire, where Shakespeare himself performed in 1585.
All set and props used in the productions are restricted only to items that could be found either on a bicycle or in a campsite, with
the team’s bikes rigged up to power various mechanical contraptions onstage. The use of bicycles as transport for the escapade will
also save 45.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions, as compared to the same adventure undertaken by car. Shakespeare is truly sustainable in
his first ever fully ‘green’ tour. At each venue, the four HandleBards perform alongside acoustic bands and musicians, each resident
to the area, ensuring that their low-tech British pragmatism fully engages local showgoers.
Paul Moss, the HandleBards Tour Manager comments: “One of the best parts of the tour is getting to meet so many people - the
support we receive is tremendous, because people are excited about who we are and what we do. They find the project refreshing.
Getting to see the amazing British countryside is also a huge benefit to cycling and performing in outdoor venues. I’m particularly
excited about performing Macbeth on Dunsinnan Hill, which might very well be one of this year’s highlights”.
Before the HandleBards, none of the boys could claim to be avid cyclists. As such, they
were thoroughly unprepared for numerous incidents on last year’s tour – including the
challenge of dragging a 60kg trailer across the Yorkshire Dales in 32-degree heat.
They’ve been in constant training this Spring though, so you’ll have to keep an eagle
eye out if you don’t want to miss them whizz down your street this summer. Director
James Farrell’s recent directing work includes Twelfth Night (Royal and Derngate) and
Pericles (Royal Shakespeare Company), as Assistant Director The 39 Steps (Criterion
Theatre) and as Staff Director Olivier Award Winning Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix
Theatre and National Tour). Designer Libby Todd’s recent work includes Trojan Women
(Brockley Jack Studio Theatre), The Bacchae (London Tour), After The End (Battersea
Arts Centre) and Shakespeare for Breakfast (Edinburgh Fringe). The HandleBards are
supported using public funding by Arts Council England and the National Lottery.
For tickets and full tour schedule please visit:
For press enquiries, including interviews and images, please contact:
Callum Cheatle at Peculius on / 07733 266 553
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