When these showmen go on the road they do it literally – pushing everything they need in a handcart.
Gary ‘Gacko’ Bridgens and Mike Bettison will be tramping around the roads of the Holme Valley this week.
They will be pushing a handcart called Dolly packed with musical instruments, scenery, electrics, puppets and all the paraphernalia they need to put on a show.
Today they will be heading for Upperthong and their first stop on a five-day tour of The Story of Stories for Holmfirth Arts Festival.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said Gary. “Two old blokes with everything they need to put on a show in a cart, pushing it around the countryside. What could go wrong?”
Gary was inspired to take to the road with his camping gear and all he needed to stage a show by the work of Walter Wilkinson who did much the same thing in the early part of the 20th century.
“He pushed a cart around the country giving shows,” said Gary. “The cart had everything he needed – his tent, a sleeping bag, a stove and his puppets.
“After a performance he’d send his hat round and whatever he collected kept him going.
He’d buy a few provisions in the village where he’d earned it – cheese, a few beers, some new socks if he needed them. And he wrote about his adventures.”
Now Gary, joined by Mike Bettison, will tour the Holme Valley unloading a cargo of stories, songs and music at a series of venues to recreate the history of storytelling from the first cave paintings right up to date with the internet.
Gary said: “We will be pushing the cart from venue to venue and if you are out and about, sitting on a bench looking at the view or waiting at the bus stop, tell us your stories.”
They won’t be camping this tour, but staying with local people, gathering valley tales as they go.
Gary and Mike will be blogging throughout their tour.
For details see the website www.holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk The first show is at the Royal Oak at Upperthong tonight at 8pm.