The HandleBards cycle and stage Shakespeare

The HandleBards cycle all over the United Kingdom to perform Shakespeare's plays and may also cycle around Asia in future

They have pedalled more than 8,000km through rain and shine, hauling 100kg of props and equipment up and down the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, to perform Shakespeare's plays.

But the HandleBards, who are here this week for their first Singapore performance, have not mustered the courage to tour Asia on bicycles.

The British all-male acting troupe's producer and founder Paul Moss, 24, says: "We've done a lot of social cycling around the countries we've visited. But the heat, mad traffic and different road rules have meant that we've not yet hauled our trailers over to Asia to cycle between venues.

"It's something we'd love to do in the future, once we have a better knowledge of each country. Eventually we may even cycle around the world with the shows."

The HandleBards, formed in 2013, have made waves back home for their energetic outdoor performances of Shakespeare's well-loved plays and for their focus on cutting down their carbon footprint.

For now, this means travelling from one venue to another by bike.


The HandleBards: (from left) Matthew Seager, Calum Hughes- McIntosh, Tom Dixon and Callum Brodie. ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU

The troupe, whose members were all casual cyclists, had a tough start - their first cycling trip, for instance, saw them break two bicycle chains, three bicycle wheels and a trailer attachment.

"Every day is an adventure and brings new challenges," says Moss, recalling curious peacocks dropping in on shows and attempts to cobble together quick fixes for bicycle mishaps, including using a string from a mophead to hold parts together.

The troupe, he adds, is working towards creating a touring system that allows it to power everything on stage and backstage using "pedal power".

  • WATCH IT / A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM BY THE HANDLEBARDS

    WHERE: Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay

    WHEN: Tonight to Sunday, 7pm

    ADMISSION: Free

This could see the energy generated by cycling being harnessed to charge the group's mobile phones and laptops on the road, and to power lighting, sound and mechanical contraptions onstage during their shows, he says.

The HandleBards will perform A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Supertree Grove tonight till Sunday, as part of Gardens by the Bay's Say It With Love programme for Valentine's Day.

The cast of four: Tom Dixon, 25, Callum Brodie, 26, Calum Hughes- McIntosh, 25, and Matthew Seager, 24, will play 25 characters amid a flurry of costume changes.

Dixon says: "We can't wait for our first outdoor show in Singapore, watching the lights glow in the Supertrees when we're performing one of Shakespeare's most magical love stories.

"It's the most incredible setting for a play that we've performed in and will probably be one of the warmest outdoor shows we've ever done."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'Bard on pedal power'. Print Edition | Subscribe