The HandleBards

Much Ado About Nothing; Richard III; Romeo and Juliet; The Taming of the Shrew
Presented in English

The "world's first cycling theatre company," The HandleBards returned to Edinburgh in 2016 with two troupes, The Boys and The Girls. Each troupe was composed of four actors who carried set, props and costumes around the UK (and beyond) on bicycles to perform all-male Much Ado About Nothing and Richard III and all-female Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew in unique venues from gardens to castles.

Company: The HandleBards
Directors: Emma Sampson (Richard III), Nicola Samer (Much Ado), James Farrell (Shrew), Nel Crouch (Romeo and Juliet)
Associate Director: Callum Brodie
Marketing Manager: Callum Cheatle
Composer and Musical Director: Guy Hughes
Designer: Nik Corrall
Company Manager: Olly Jacques
Producers: Paul Moss and Tom Dixon
Cast: Liam Mansfield, Matt Maltby, Paul Hilliar, Stanton Plummer-Cambridge, Eleanor Dillon-Reams, Grace Cheatle, Gabriella Margulies, Lotte Tickner, Stephanie Withers

In 2016, over 7 months, the HandleBards visited 6 countries, cycled thousands of miles and performed over 100 shows. A UK-wide tour of castles, museums, abbeys and public gardens, a schools' tour and several international dates: Shoonya Centre for Art and Somatic Practices, Bangalore, India (September 2016); Malaysia (October 2016); KICS, Khartoum, Sudan - where the cast of Romeo and Juliet were the first all-female theatre troupe to perform (November 2016); as well as performances in Singapore and Myanmar.       

5th-28th August 5-28, 2016, Edinburgh, Scotland. In Edinburgh they performed family-friendly open-air Shakespeare in the city's Royal Botanic Gardens as well as indoors at Assembly's George Square Theatre, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.          

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Selected Reviews:
"BroadwayBaby feature 'Two-Tired for Shakespeare?': "It’s been 400 years since William Shakespeare shuffled off to wherever he is now, and the Fringe guide is filled with his plays—possibly even more productions than usual, which would be saying something. The Handlebards, however, are perhaps the only company to get to the festival entirely under their own power. That is, entirely by bicycle. The troupes have cycled across the UK, from London to Edinburgh (1500 miles). They carry all their sets and costumes with them, and stop along the way to perform at various venues, most of them outdoors."

The New Indian Express feature “Bard goes "bonkers", gets a cycle”: "The Handlebards perform Shakespeare on cycles, and do environmentally sustainable theatre. This does not mean earnest, all-fun-sucked-out dramas. Instead the promise is of 'dry wit' and 'A stonking, bonkers, entertaining time.'”

BroadwayBaby review 5 stars "The Handlebards are a unique group, reinventing the concept of the company of travelling players... The acting is terrific, but this is not Shakespeare at its most serious... or fresh, energetic theatre, either as newbies to Shakespeare or aficionados, The Handlebards provide something for everyone, embodying the entire ethos of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This is Fringe theatre at its best and most ingenious."

TV Bomb review 4 stars "One of the loveliest things about the Handlebards is... their mission statement – the aim to recapture the sense of a travelling, adventuring Elizabethan band of players, only using bikes instead of horses. Even more rarely, they completely succeed."" ... ""Written down, it can all sound rather ambitious, perhaps even insufferable. But it really is that good – and the Handlebards have the talent (and stamina) to pull it off."

Shields Gazette review (Newcastle performance): "The HandleBards make Shakespeare fun and accessible for people of all ages - and that's exactly how it should be."