Bringing the Bard to the people of North Walsham – by bike

A pedal-powered theatre company is bringing a novel production of a Shakespeare comedy to a Norfolk college – by bicycle.

The Handlebards touring drama group has taken the classic plays of England’s most famous writer to two countries and three continents since it was set up on a shoestring four years ago.

A four-strong female cast will perform As You Like It in the grounds of Paston Sixth Form College (Lawns site) at North Walsham on Friday June 9 – in a picnic-style show organised by the Sheringham Little Theatre.

The plays are billed as energetic, chaotic, full of laughter, and featuring lots of costume changes and cross-dressing for the single sex cast.

Hand-crafted Pashley bikes are used in the show, and – with trailers – to provide sustainable transport for the show’s set, props and costumes as well as cast.

The Handlebards aim to take Shakespeare to communities in a eco-friendly, accessible way. They have also promoted British culture on tour in Africa and Asia.

As You Like It will tell the story of lovers Rosalind and Orlando who have been forced into exile in the Forest of Arden and find themselves entangled in a game of love, lust and mistaken identity.

Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Our theatre has close links with Paston College, especially its drama department, and we are delighted to be able to link up with the college again to stage this novel outdoor Shakespeare production, which should be fun for students and local families alike.”

Doors open at 6pm, with audience members encouraged to pack a picnic and chairs – but to bring ponchos and raincoats, not umbrellas, in case the weather is wet. The show runs from 7pm to 9pm.

For tickets (£12, students £6) and more information contact the Little Theatre box office on 01263 822347 or visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

The HandleBards taking Shakespeare on tour – with pedal power. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

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