The HandleBards

Ella Langley: Interview with Callum Cheatle, The HandleBards

“Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier, over park over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire, they do cycle everywhere.”

The HandleBards are a touring company that promise to pedal “extremely energetic, charmingly chaotic and environmentally sustainable Shakespeare plays across the globe”, literally. We spoke to them about their environmental trail so far, and the path ahead.

Evolution: where did it come from, where has it gone?

Four of us wanted to continue doing theatre after uni – but also do something fresh and travel, and have adventures. We thought, let’s tour in a way that feels environmentally sustainable, and closer to the communities we visit. Shakespeare used to do it on a horse and cart, playing for food and accommodation, and a close modern-day equivalent was bicycles.

Cycling can be gruelling. There’s days when you wake up and go: this is gonna be hell and I don’t wanna do it and I’ve got 30 miles to cycle and it’s raining and I’m upset. But I can’t really describe the feeling when you’ve lugged a 25kg trailer up a gigantic hill in the Yorkshire Dales and you finally get to the top and look over and go, I made it.