Hold on to your handleBards - Shakespeare is coming to the National Cycle Network.
An all-female theatre troupe is to perform Romeo and Juliet on Sustrans' Fallowfield Loop in Manchester, bringing a little culture to the cycle route to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The bicycle-riding theatre company is touring Britain across the Sustrans National Cycle Network as part of the ‘4 for 400’ season including four plays each performed by four actors in over 70 venues over the summer.
Two troupes of travelling bards feature an all-male and an all-female cast who will take all their costumes, props and sets by bicycle, using much of the 14,000 miles of cycle paths within the National Cycle Network.
The team all ride Pashley Pathfinders, made in Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford upon Avon.
The four women will also perform The Taming of the Shrew and four men are taking their shows of Much Ado About Nothing and Richard III to castles, gardens, bicycle paths and stately homes across the UK, most of which are less than five miles from a national route.
The HandleBards, who are known for their on-going drive to promote sustainability within the arts, will cycle 2500 miles between them, taking different routes from London to Edinburgh.
Producer and founder Paul Moss said: “With six plays and five thousand miles under our belt, we're ready for our biggest and most ambitious season yet,
“In this anniversary year, as a way of celebrating the life of the great British playwright, we are excited to put our first ever all-female troupe on the road alongside our internationally acclaimed all-male troupe.
“We’ll be travelling along the National Cycle Network as we go and there are shows along the whole of our route, including one actually on a Sustrans cycle path in Manchester”
Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans’ England North Director said: “It’s really fantastic to host The Handlebards here for the first time on the Fallowfield Loop cycle route in Manchester.
“We’ll be organising cycle rides to watch the performance so look on our events pages for more information. If you’re not able to come to Manchester the troupes will be performing close to a cycle route near you.”
The Handlebards’ girls troupe tour the UK from the 5th of July until the 10th of September, and the boys from the 25th of May until the 3rd of September. The girls will perform Romeo and Juliet on the Fallowfield Loop, in Levenshulme, Manchester on 30 July.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.