Friday, 24 November 2017

An Interview with The HandleBards






First of all, would you mind telling us a little about who The HandleBards are and what you do?

The HandleBards are a cycling troupe of actors who, every summer, carry all of our set props and costumes on the back of our bikes to perform Shakespeare at a variety of venues all across the UK!
How did the idea of combining Shakespeare and cycling come about? Would you say that it's one of the defining factors that makes your theatre group so unique?
It’s definitely what sets us apart from other theatre companies! It came from four friends knowing that they loved Shakespeare and adventures but thinking that perhaps walking across the UK would take a bit too long. So the next best thing was bikes. None of us were particularly bike savvy before our first tour but it’s safe to say that 5 years and 5 cycle tours later we are big bike fans now!
What's the longest distance you've ever cycled to reach a venue? Was it worth it when you got there?
At least 50 miles, we saw wild horses, had to do a detour to go to a radio station for an interview, nearly ended up on a motorway and we saw another cyclist get hit by a car. It was a very eventful day! The show was full (thankfully) and the audience were great but we were EXHAUSTED that night. It’s difficult for us to do big distances, because of all the weight we’re carrying we tend to go an average of 10-12 miles an hour but that was a LONG day!
After cycling such a way, does it drain you before a show? I was amazed by how much energy there was in your performance.
Yes and no. All HandleBards talk about their first ever 'cycle + show’ day and how exhausted they are. However your body is very flexible to it’s environment and eventually it adjusts and it doesn’t feel so bad - if anything it gives you an adrenaline rush!
Do you get many days off? What would the typical 'relaxed day' for you consist of?
During a typical HandleBards cycle tour we perform 6 days a week, cycle 5 days a week and get Mondays off. Days off we tend to explore the town/city that we are in and later in the tour we always go in search for a spa to just relax!
Would you say that your relationship with the people you perform with is part of what makes your performances so enjoyable?
The relationship between the actors is very important. For the first two years we were just a group of mates and we had a great laugh which was what made the shows so silly and fun I think. Now that we cast actors one of the things we look for is if there personalities will match and if they look like they will have fun together. Otherwise what are we doing it all for?
Where do you stay in between travelling to new venues?
We camp, stay in hotels, airbnbs and at the homes of people who see our show and are kind enough to let us stay - we meet some wonderful people through this and hear some amazing stories.
What would you say is the best thing about performing with The Handlebards?
Making people laugh. Having people say that we made Shakespeare accessible for them or for their kids.
On average, how long does it take you to have a show ready to perform? Learning huge chunks of Shakespeare text is difficult enough without having multiple roles!
We give ourselves 2 weeks to rehearse. We get the script two week in advance of this and try and get off book as much as we can before we go into the room. The shows are always a bit chaotic when we first go out on the road but that adds to the joy!
Finally, if there was one piece of advice you could give to aspiring actors, what would it be?
Just keep making your own theatre. Try out acting, directing, stage management, designing do it all (but give everyone else a chance too!) Getting a well rounded experience will set you up to be a good actor and a friendly one that appreciates everyone else around them - and being a nice person to work with is one of the best qualities to have as people will keep on hiring you!
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions Tom!

4 comments:

  1. I loved their performance of 'As You Like it' in the Summer xx this was so fascinating to read and learn more about what they do. So cool Marti! xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's always a pleasure to read your interviews with guest celebrities. And now a theatre group? Congratulations-that must be a big achievement for you.😊😁 The handlebards sounds like a really amusing,entertaining theatre group and it'd be a real treat if I got the chance to see one of their performances. Where are they located exactly in the UK?

    #sweetreats xxx www.bakingboutiquebirds.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so kind of you to say- thank you very much! I'm not too sure exactly where they're located (maybe London-ish?) but over summer they tour all over the UK. Check out their tour dates, they're definitely worth a visit! :)

      Delete