A group of eight actors are pedaling their way across Montana this summer, making stops in towns to perform their original play before packing up their bikes to cycle on to the next show.
The Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre is cycling 1,260 miles around the state over the course of six weeks. They will bring their production to Whitefish this week when they perform on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Whitefish Bike Retreat. The hour-long show is free.
The cyclists/actors began their journey in Great Falls spending about five weeks this spring getting to know each other and writing the script, said Jackie Rivera, of Brooklyn, New York, and one of the performers.
“It’s been a rough and tumble journey,” Rivera said last week on the phone from Missoula. “We’ve had some 60- to 70-mile days. We move really fast.”
Agile Rascal Theatre used the crowdfunding source Hatchfund.org, which is designed for artists, to raise more than $20,000 to cover the troupe’s expenses. Dara Silverman, the group’s founder, led actors/cyclists from the company on a similar trip in summer 2015 by cycling on a coast to coast tour.
They carry all the props and costumes on their bikes, along with their traveling gear. One of the troupe members carries about 100 pounds on his bike, not including the amplifier for the sound, Rivera noted.
“It’s heavy — literally and figuratively,” Rivera said. “We shift items around a lot and we’ve gotten used to repairing things. We brought spray glue with us.”
The play they will perform is “Resonance,” the story of a small town caught between unsustainable tradition and an unknown future. It is packed with inventive moments, memorable characters and catchy tunes, the group says.
“We based it on the idea that what if a town’s main industry was sound,” Rivera explained. “What if they mined sound in the same way you would coal or other resources, and how you deal with the depletion of those natural resources. What if the sound runs out?”
The play includes their original music and is always being tweaked as they travel between towns. They often rehearse while stopping for lunch breaks.
“We will be singing through the music and a crowd will gather around us,” Rivera said.
Encounters with folks on the road, including those at impromptu practice sessions or the owner of a diner where the troupe had breakfast, often end up filling the audience on show night.
“Montanans are the sweetest, most hospitable people,” Rivera said. “Who lets strangers stay in a tent in your front yard?”
The Agile rascals have performed in Lewiston, Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula and had to cancel a show in Havre because of an injury. On Thursday, Aug. 3 they will perform at 8 p.m. in Eureka at H.A. Brewing Company.
Following the Whitefish performance, the cast will be available in a question and answer session at Bonsai Brewing Project on Sunday, Aug. 6 from 1-2 p.m.
For more information, visit http://agilerascaltheatre.com.