Well, that is the question…
I was telephoned earlier this week by a chap called Jack: ‘Hi, I’m Jack from The Handlebars…‘ he said. I initially struggled to piece together what he was talking about; bicycles, plays, Romeo & Juliet… It then suddenly clicked; I’d misheard the name of his ‘company’. He’d actually said “Hi. I’m Jack from the HandleBards…‘ and everything was suddenly somewhat clearer. His ‘company’ being a company of touring actors. Can you see what they’ve done there?
“The HandleBards, the world’s first cycling theatre company and front-runners in sustainable theatre, are soon to embark on their 2018 tour. The troupe, who began life in 2013 as a group of entrepreneurial friends from university with a shared passion for cycling and theatre, will tour over 100 venues across the UK from May to September with an all-male production of Twelfth Night and an all-female production of Romeo and Juliet. Both casts consist of only four actors, requiring some fast-paced multi-rolling, giving The HandleBards their unique brand of irreverent comedy.”
So, back to that question: cycle touring or not cycle touring? Well, the troupes have so far pedalled over 7,000 miles in 12 countries and 3 continents. Those are commendable cycle touring statistics so the answer seems to be a resounding yes, it is indeed cycle touring albeit with a bit twist.
“The company engage local communities, partnering with environmentally-minded businesses and inviting local musicians to play at their shows. As winners of the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, and nominees of The Stage’s inaugural Sustainability Award, The HandleBards are leading the charge towards a more sustainable British theatre scene. Producer Tom Dixon, said: “We’re committed to demonstrating that everyone can and must play their part in looking after our world, but we know not everyone likes to be preached at. That’s why we approach the subject with positivity, aiming to inspire others to make small changes in their own lives. The UK is full of stunning areas of natural beauty, which we’re thrilled to work in, cycle through and help protect.”
But what about the plays? Are they any good? Well, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s… err… a YouTube video:
They seemed to like what they’d seen. But back to the cycling. Here’s a nice touch. The actors use Pashley Bicycles to travel from venue to venue. That’s Pashley Bicycles of… Stratford-upon-Avon.
The summer 2018 tours kick off at the end of May – see where they’ll be heading here – and you can find more details about The HandleBards on their website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The which, if you with patient eyes attend, what here shall miss, their toil shall strive to mend. [Sorry Mr S.]