Marking The HandleBards 10th anniversary, the hugely popular Shakespearean troupe climb back on their bikes for another epic tour to open-air theatres, castles, and gardens aplenty across the UK this summer. Humans and fairies collide, and hilarity ensues, as the sustainable ensemble travel over 1500 miles across the country by bike to present more than 100 performances of Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With set, props and costumes transported in their 100% electric support vehicle, and actors travelling solely by bike, the course of the cycling path never did run smooth.
Over the past decade, The HandleBards have travelled over 15,000 miles with 17 productions to 16 countries, performing to an estimated 150,000 audience members. By cycling their way through 10 years of touring, the theatre company have consistently proven their commitment to sustainability and healthy living, saving over 10 tonnes of carbon compared to touring in transit vans. Their company ethos is to spread environmental activism through joy, not only with their extensive touring nationally (and sometimes internationally), but also through their national schools tour and community driven work in and around Sheffield, working closely with the community anchor Heeley Trust.
Looking towards the next decade, The HandleBards will continue working with their partners such as Pashley Cycles, Electric Pedals and Studio Polpo to develop more innovative ideas to help reduce their own environmental impact and, they hope, the carbon footprint of the outdoor touring sector at large, with current ideas ranging from cycle powered batteries for powering entire productions to outdoor theatres made from living trees.
Producers and Co-founders Tom Dixon and Paul Moss said, “10 years is a wonderful milestone to reach and we honestly couldn’t have done it without the support of our loyal and generous audiences and supporters. When you cycle all across the UK you meet a diverse range of generous, interesting and kind people. It reminds you that we all have a lot more in common than we think. Here’s to 10 more years, 15,000 more miles and plenty more laughter and joy.”