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Outside Theatre returns to Hardcastle Crags

Friday, 17 July 2015

It's nearly 25 years since we were able to brave the midges and experience the joys of outdoor theatre at Hardcastle Crags with productions of Thomas Hardy's The Woodlanders and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This July, theatre is returning to the courtyard at Gibson Mill.

Four men, four bikes and a 1500 mile adventure will stop en route at the National Trust's Gibson Mill courtyard at Hardcastle Crags to perform two of Shakespeare's greatest plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet will be performed on the 24 and 25 July respectively.


On just four bicycles the troupe will carry all the necessary set, props, costumes and camping equipment throughout the tour across the UK, and will use their bikes to power various surprises and contraptions on stage as well as entertaining the audience with fun filled performances night after night.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, is a comedy based on events surrounding a marriage, includes the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.

Hamlet, a tragedy based in Denmark, dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet takes on his uncle Claudius who had murdered his own brother, and subsequently seized the throne by marrying his deceased brother's widow, Hamlet's mother Gertrude.

Following their very successful 2014 tour when they were awarded the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, HandleBards have developed a new off-grid touring theatre model for 2015 where all the power they need for 21st century living will be generated by leg-power. Using dynamos to store cycle-power, they will be the first energy- positive touring theatre company on the planet.Their aim is to remove the need for any mains power during the 58 day tour stretching from Kent to Scotland and back to London, they say that "doing something is better than doing nothing".

Jonathan Brewer, general manager for West Yorkshire Properties at the National Trust which includes Hardcastle Crags, commented that "we are delighted to have secured this amazing theatre troupe for two nights and following the success of last year they both promise to be fantastic fun filled evenings of entertainment, suitable for friends and families alike."

Jonathan went on to say that "this year is especially important as we mark the 10th Anniversary of Gibson Mill being open to the public.The mill, which was formerly a cotton mill and then an entertainments emporium, is 100% off-grid therefore the plays and ethos of HandleBards is perfectly fitting to help to mark those celebrations and our success within the National Trust's drive to use 50% renewable energy for all of its properties by 2020."

The performances will start at 6.30pm and will be performed in the courtyard. Refreshments will be available. Tickets are available from The National Trust website at a cost of £12 or £10 concessions.