The King's Troupe: Shakespeare without Borders
Friday, 19 August 2016
Founded in 2010 and based in Hebden Bridge, The King's Troupe specialise in the performance of Shakespeare.
Their work is open to all and they are an amateur inter-generational company. Of 30 current members, their youngest member is 2 years old and the youngest at heart is 65+. They have no audition process and all are welcome. There's no charge for people to attend and they have to date self-funded all their projects.
The group has worked together collaboratively to make each piece and for the past four years have been mentored by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the 'Open Stages' project. They are passionate about theatre-making.
"Above all, our work is about widening participation, theatre-making in non-traditional ways in non-traditional venues nationally and internationally, through the wonderful medium of Shakespeare and his plays". Mary & Richard Coaten
Shakespeare without borders
As part of their development of Troilus & Cressida in 2014, they went to Athens and Istanbul to research Trojan and Greek mythology, including a visit to the Troy exhibition at the archaeological museum in Istanbul. This resulted in a production that was a site-specific theatrical festival that lasted a weekend involving camps of Trojan and Greek warriors. BBC Radio Leeds did an outside broadcast from the festival and representatives of the RSC came to watch in the evening. This, together with their other productions and theatre training from the RSC, has enabled the group to grow and ambitions have increased, especially since visiting Bucharest this year.
"It was one of the most beautiful days of my life because I defeated my fear of being in front of many people and I felt the confidence of being comfortable playing and acting in front of people…like a personal victory for me". Maria, 13yrs.
Above all, their work is about widening participation, theatre-making in non-traditional ways in non-traditional venues nationally and internationally, through the wonderful medium of Shakespeare and his works.
Shakespeare in France
This summer, they created an outdoor performance for public presentation in the garden of a beautiful house just outside Fresselines in a part of France known as Le Creuse - an hour's drive north-east of Limoges.
An audience of family and friends and locals had been invited for Saturday 31st July at 6pm and most interesting of all, this would effectively be a new company, needing a new cut-down script and incorporating local French people as well. Rehearsals not only took place in the garden at La Sagne but also out in the landscape at lakes and rivers.
They prepared 'Comme il vous plaira' or as we know it, 'As You Like It' a comedy which Shakepeare wrote around 1599, before he wrote Hamlet.
Une pièce de théâtre de William Shakespeare; c'est une petite comédie écrite vers 1599, peu avant Hamlet.
On a wonderfully sunny evening in rural France 20 of the group performed the play creating their own Forest of Arden in a garden in the French countryside. Along the way some French children joined in to create a French and English production of the play, including music, dancing, song and a further example of making theatre wherever and whenever they can.
The group told the HebWeb, "As a result of our theatre work in this exceptional Shakespeare anniversary year 2016, we now have fledgling King's Troupe companies in Romania and France, needing encouragement, support and skills-sharing to develop their own unique styles of theatre-making. We have begun a partnership with St Augustine's Centre which we will continue, with a recently hatched plan to perform 'As You Like It' at the centre in the coming weeks.
"This is a really exciting way of working which can be replicated in many countries and cultures; community theatre-making in a most accessible way with the genius of Shakespeare holding it together."
See Facebook page: Shakespeare Without Borders
HebWeb News: Success for The King's Troup, Hebden drama group (May 2012)
HebWeb News: The King's Troupe from Hebden Bridge to perform Troilus and Cressida as part of the RSC's Open Stages project (Dec 2013)
HebWeb News: The King's Troupe perform at Stratford (Aug 2014)