A Midsummer Night’s Dream
06 Sep 2017
The HandleBards are the world’s first cycling theatre company. 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”.
This summer, they’re returning to Margate to perform their hit all-male production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Theatre Royal Margate on the 6 September.
Producer Paul Moss explains that, in usual HandleBards style, we can expect “riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter” from the show.
The HandleBards pride themselves on just how accessible they’re able to make Shakespeare and his plays. “The key is not to take it all so seriously,” explains Paul. “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.”
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.
“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. For years now, climate change (not ‘fake news’ by the way!) has been on the discourse agenda, but nothing will really change until we all stop complaining about how awful it all is, and actually do something to change the way we live our lives. Climate change needs real advocates, and we’re prepared to be just that for the cultural fields.”
The HandleBards also work hard to grow real engagement with local communities. They invite local musicians to play at their shows, and encourage localities to see their shows as an opportunity for the whole community to get together over something positive.
“Why not knock on your neighbour’s door and invite them to share a picnic at the show with you?” suggests Paul.
The HandleBards all-female troupe will also tour the UK this summer, with as You Like It. Find out more and book tickets for both shows at www.handlebards.com.
Tickets* Full Price £14, Concs £12, FOMT £10, Schools £8
*Booking fee applies: 50p per ticket holder in person/phone, £1.50 per ticket holder online
Running time: 2 hours including interval