The Economic Times | The HandleBards present Shakespeare on bicycles

The HandleBards present Shakespeare on bicycles

BENGALURU: The sparsely-set stage is the calm before the storm. After the dimmed lights come on again, a series of rapid movements by four actors create chaos while narrating a familiar Shakespearean story. Bicycle tyres, bells, coat hangers and audience members join as props before the 90 minute joyride comes to an end. 

Anyone who has witnessed The HandleBards perform would know exactly what we are talking about. The UK-based, four-member, all-male troupe is in Bengaluru for a month-long tour that ends on January 31 and has them performing Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. What sets them apart from most theatre adaptions of Shakespeare is that they cycle from one destination to another across the globe, carrying their set, props and costumes along. 
Presented by Organizational Theatre, Bengaluru is the first and the only city in India they are performing in. The cast members include Callum Brodie, Tom Dixon, Matthew Seager and Calum Hughes-McIntosh. Paul Moss, who conceptualised the idea of a cycling theatre and was earlier one of the actors, is now tour manager. This is their second visit to the city. "The idea of travelling on bikes was not only a physical challenge and an adventure, but it also harked back to the way they would have originally done it, also with an all-male troupe," said Brodie." As a company, we always pick one comedy and tragedy each, slightly abridge it and make both shows comedy."

Interestingly, four men play all 40 characters. "We manage this through lot of multi-roling, puppetry and audience participation. We make the situation comical while being true to the text," added Dixon. 

The logistics of such performances involve lot of planning and thinking on the feet. "We have to move everything from big trailer boxes on the back of our bikes to suitcases. And we try not to get any excess weight so that everything is transportable," said Hughes-McIntosh. 

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