The world’s first cycling theatre company returns to Giggleswick
Friday 19 May 2017
This summer, the world’s first cycling theatre company, The Handlebards, who have been praised as “uproariously funny” by Sir Ian McKellen are performing their hit all-male production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Giggleswick School on Saturday 5 August. Famously, the company’s productions take place outdoors and this performance will give audiences the chance to see Shakespeare’s most popular comedy in the unique setting of the gardens of the School. We spoke to Producer Paul Moss about what to expect.
“We only ever cast four actors in our productions, for the very reason that it’s nearly impossible to perform a Shakespeare play with just four actors - attempting it always leads to hilarity both on and off stage, it’s really a lot of fun and audiences can expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.”
Since 2013, their two troupes (one all-male, the other all-female) have pedalled over 6000 miles across the UK to perform their unique brand of “charmingly chaotic, environmentally sustainable, bicycle-powered Shakespeare”.
The production coming to Giggleswick was awarded four stars by The Stage and has won the companies fans across the UK.
“Before touring this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream around the world, we pedalled it 1500 miles around the UK by bicycle, with all the necessary set, props and costume in tow. Now, the show is back by popular demand and we are delighted to be bringing it to Giggleswick.”
2017 will mark The HandleBards’ fifth UK summer season, having begun their adventure in 2013 with a 967 mile cycle from Glasgow to London. Back then, it was theatre on a shoestring - and not meant figuratively - the boys used shoelaces and a sponge to attach their trailers to their bikes.
Since then, the group have gone from strength-to-strength; they’ve grown from a set of friends with cheap bikes and a rickety old trailer to an internationally successful theatre company, who have performed their brand of fast-paced, bicycle-powered Shakespeare in twelve countries across three continents, winning the support of legions of fans, including British bicycle manufacturer Pashley, whose hand-crafted bikes the HandleBards will be riding throughout 2017. They were also nominated for The Stage Sustainability Award in 2017.
“We’re on a journey to become the world’s front-runners in sustainable theatre,” explains Paul. “This year we’re planting trees to offset 100% of our carbon emissions. Climate change needs real advocates, and we’re prepared to be just that for the cultural fields.”