Spotlight On… Artistic Director of Bardolph’s Box, Nicola Pollard

Bardolph’s Box

Tour Dates
We are primarily performing during the school day, in schools and public venues. Member of the public are welcome at performances in libraries – space permitting. Please see below for the schedule. We also have performances for families at 3 venues:

Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham Saturday 8th October 01434 652477 11am and 2pm

Malvern Theatres  Saturday 15th October  01684 892 277 10.30am

Harlow Playhouse Saturday 22nd October  01279 431 945 11am and 2pm

I chatted to Artistic Director, Nicola Pollard about the production that is opening up Shakespeare to younger viewers:

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about the production and what the inspiration was for it.

The production was initially a response to a call-out for Shakespeare inspired productions for the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, so I wrote the outline in winter 2013. The show needed to be tourable to small spaces and relatively inexpensive to create. I designed a show called ‘Bardolph’s Box’ that involved two actors, a frame with a backdrop and plenty of props and costumes, plus The Box of course. I gave the show a working title but it seems to have stuck!

Has anything changed from the original concept to the finished product?

I decided to have a third actor involved. It allowed more exciting costume choices, a greater number of characters and the possibility of two characters onstage with Bardolph at the same time. We made the show through a Research and Development process, with two actors, myself, my deisgner and a production assistant. Collectively we made a much more interesting show than I would have managed by myself, by thinking about Bardolph’s adventure and what had brought him to the island.


What is the aim of the show?

The aim of the show is to introduce children to Shakespeare’s plays in a positive, fun and engaging way. I feel Shakespeare can sometimes get a bad press in schools and I wanted to give children a positive start with his works. There’s so much fun to be had in them, a lot of joy and humour, and I wanted to showcase that. We include family shows in our tour so parents, grandparents and everyone else can enjoy the show with their children, so Shakespeare isn’t just something associated with the classroom.

What do you feel the strengths of the production are?

Bardolph is a huge hit with our young audiences! They love it when he sits amongst them. I think the number of characters we meet is also a real strength of the show, and the ways the actors portray these different people. We designed it specifically for touring to young audiences so it’s a flexible set, and worked with children when making the show, which has really paid off.

What would you say to encourage people to come along?

‘Bardolphs’ Box’ is a fun, lively, energetic production. Adults enjoy it almost as much as the children, and you won’t meet your usual Shakespeare suspects. My cast are terrific. This is a really accessible, popular show, a real roller-coaster ride through Shakespeare’s stories.

Huge thanks to Nicola for her time, all the information about the show is below:


Up The Road Theatre announce their 2016 autumn tour. Bardolph’s Box is a smallscale Shakespeare inspired production for 8-12 year olds, celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s work. The 4-week tour will begin at Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre in the week of September 26th then continue to visit schools, libraries and theatres across the country, including Cumbria, Northumberland, Malvern, Gloucestershire and Harlow, finishing on Saturday 22nd October.

Up The Road Theatre are a new company based in Kent who specialise in creating work that explores literature, culture and history.
Bardolph’s Box introduces children to Shakespeare’s plays. It will inspire the younger generation and make Shakespeare fun. The touring company compromises of 3 actors: Stuart Crowther plays Bardolph, Falstaff’s sidekick from Henry IV’s, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lucy Heath and Gareth Wildig play a number of roles.

The company explore some of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays and characters, such as The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors and the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet. Their exchanges with Bardolph include both modern English and extracts from the plays, and opportunities for the audience to interact with the performers as they help Bardolph on his way.

Washed up on a distant shore, Bardolph finds an island in trouble. In his quest to save the isle, he meets a host of colourful characters from Shakespeare’s plays, including Cleopatra, Prince Hal, Ariel and cheeky Puck. Everyone needs a helping hand, and Bardolph is just the boy for the job – but he can’t do it alone!

Join Bardolph, on a roller-coaster ride through Shakespeare’s stories. Who will you meet? Where will you go? Can you get his pals out of a pickle? One thing’s for sure, you’ll have a whole lot of fun along the way!

Many young children are initially put off the plays by Shakespeare’s complicated language, but this production utilises Shakespeare’s language in a manner that makes it easier for a younger audience to understand.

Nicola Pollard, Artistic Director of Up The Road Theatre, said: “We’re really looking forward to introducing children (and their families!) to Bardolph and his wonderful world. Through an exciting myriad of characters, we’re exploring a number of Shakespeare’s plays, including ‘The Comedy of Errors’, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Twelfth Night’. Our audience are encouraged to help young Bardolph on his first big adventure, as he gets his friends out of fixes and deliberates their dilemmas. With live music, puppetry and a good dollop of humour, ‘Bardolph’s Box’ is a brilliant way to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary!”

“I’m really proud of our first production. We performed to over 1,700 children in the spring, the majority of whom joined in with gusto as they assisted Bardolph is his quest. It’s a lively piece, lots of fun and very energetic. Stuart Crowther is hugely  engaging as Bardolph. It’s great seeing families enjoy the show together – although designed for a younger audience we always intended it to be a show that adults could also enjoy.”
The production lasts approximately 50 minutes.
The production had a successful spring tour in Kent and the north-west. Feedback from teachers included:
‘Bardolph’s Box makes the plays much more accessible’  ‘The show demonstrates how child-friendly Shakespeare can be’ ‘This is a rewarding experience’ ‘Bardolph’s Box adds a fun aspect to Shakespeare’ ‘The production stimulated all sorts of creative writing and ignited a real interest in Shakespeare’

Visit for more information.

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