About Us

Our touring Company was founded in 1997, after seven years as a community-based theatre company in Eastbourne, East Sussex. Our Creative Director is Pete Talbot, a former teacher, who trained in commedia dell’arte with the maestro Antonio Fava at the Scuola Internazionale dell’Attore Comico in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Our shows – which are inspired by and deeply rooted in the commedia – are aimed at adults but enjoyed by all ages and are performed both indoors and outdoors. Our cast is composed of professional physical theatre actors and actor-musicians trained in mime, clown or commedia. Most members of our team are also musicians, and our original music live music is integrated with the action.
Our acting style uses large comic and often acrobatic movement and physical jokes called lazzi and burli, much of it part of a tradition which is hundreds of years old, but using Pedrolino style white faces – pantomime blanche (rather than leather masks) – and bright coloured vibrant ‘cartoon-ised’ costumes. We literally use the slapstick or battoccio, but our work is not ‘merely slapstick’.

Poetic solutions to storytelling are never far away and through mime, ‘sound texturing’ and devices of our own we are constantly looking to exploit the poetic, fantastic and absurd. We are not a ‘heritage’ company – either English or Italian. We use tools from the tradition – as and when we see fit – to produce new work. Fava calls this use of tradition to create contemporary work commedia parodia.

Rural Touring

After touring across southern England since 1999, we are best known for our outdoor summer tours and taking theatre into small rural communities. We do get into towns and cities occasionally but the ambiance of buses, car horns and drunks is slightly less conducive to poetic moods than the country where a worst case scenario is adjacent muck spreading, bell ringing practice or performing in a cow shed. We are now developing new work to be performed at indoor community venues and are exploring the possibility of using big tops.

We are inspired to work this way by romantic images of saltimbanques and Harlequins and by the sublime ‘Footsbarn Theatre Co’, who were driven out of England by the sheer neglect of our own funding system at the time to France where they are properly appreciated. But England is not France.

The pace of life, the aggressive environment of our roads, the banal mentality of Government regarding the Arts and sheer economics and practicality means we have long since compromised (regrettably but without conscience) the romantic ideal. We sold our living wagon to the rare and beautiful ‘Harris Brothers Traditional Fair’, but function very well with our portable theatre consisting of our pageant wagon, gas lights, flexible fence and tents for the cast and front of house.

Our audiences are growing every year and we have a hugely loyal fan-base that come to see us year-after-year and a dedicated Friends group. We work across Southern England from Devon to Kent – come and see us!

Commedia History and Tradition

If you are interested in reading more about the history and tradition of Commedia Dell’Arte, there is lots more in our Talk Commedia section in this site, and by following Artistic Director Pete Talbot on his blog too.



The Team

Al Twist

(Lead musician.) Al Twist has been a professional bassist for over 20 years and has performed with many artists and countless bands. From cabaret acts on cruise ships to film recording sessions. “I’m here to make the music feel good.” This is Twist’s fourth outing with The Rudies, and is truly delighted to be back with the team. Theatre Credits include  ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ – bass player (Brentwood Theatre), ‘Cinderella’ – drummer (Hornchurch Queens Theatre), ‘Who Saw Marjory Daw’ – musician ( The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company), ‘Harlequin Goes To The Moon’ – Musician ( The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company), ‘Our House’: The Madness Musical U.K Tour – Slobby Uncle/bass guitar & drums &‘Hot Stuff’- Sid Snake / bass player (both Queens Theatre Hornchurch), ‘Seussical, The Musical’ – bass player (Chelsea Theatre London), ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ – Ronnie / bass player & ‘Aladdin’- bass guitar / banjo (both Queens Theatre Hornchurch), ‘Macbyrd’ – musician ( The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company), ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ – Vicar / Ronnie/ bass player (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry) and ‘Cinderella, 2016/17’ – musician (Hornchurch Queens Theatre).



Andrew Cullum

Andrew trained at Webber Douglas and has played many open air theatre seasons, although this is his first outing with The Rudes.  In the great British outdoors, and in varied weather, he has played such roles as Richard III, Capulet, Leonato, Captain Hook, Ben Weatherstaff in The Secret Garden, Perks in The Railway Children and Mr Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. In recent years Andrew has become the regular Pantomime Dame for Solihull’s Core Theatre: Widow Twankey in Aladdin, Dame Trot in Jack and the Beanstalk, Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington and Ugly Sister in Cinderella.  Based largely on this experience he wrote a play, The Panto Girls, which he took on tour in the UK and in Canada.  Andrew has a prolific career as a narrator of audiobooks, and has around twenty available from Audible. Just over a year ago he published his first novel, Lights Burning Blue, which is a page-turning thriller with a theatrical setting. If you visit Andrew’s website, there is a spooky 15 minute film: My Poor Fool, which is a TV pilot episode. Go on: give yourself a scare! www.andrewcullum.co.uk



Georgina Field

Georgina is delighted to be part of The Rudes again this summer, this is her seventh summer tour. With The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, Macbyrd, The Comedy of Babi Babbett, Harlequin goes to the Moon, Who saw Marjory Daw?, Gentle Harry`s Farm, Ik-r-us Inc. Other theatre includes Baroness Hardup, Cinderella, Ann Droid, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Julia, Lend me a Tenor, Georgie, Godspell, Myrtle Wilson, The Great Gatsby, Ruth, Two and Two Make Sex, Antonia , Can`t pay? Won’t pay!, Peep Bo , Hot Mikado, Belinda, Noises off, Maria , Twelfth Night, Courtesan, The Comedy of Errors, Jack Trott, Jack and The Beanstalk, Steph, Perfect Pitch, Villager Rat , Dick Whittington and his Kool Kool Cat, Jamme, The Phantom of The Opera (Ken Hill version), Angela, Abigail’s Party; Laura, From a Jack to a King, Queens Theatre Hornchurch; Gertrude, Roll Over Beethoven; Pal Joey, Coventry Belgrade; The Hot Mikado, Watermill and National Tour; Rum BaBa and Mustafa Maltezer, Ali Baba and the Forty Theives, Theatre Royal Margate; Salad Days, Greenwich Theatre; Dick Whittington, Aladdin, One Flew Over the Cuckoo`s Nest, Sugar, Theatre Clwyd; Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, The Good Companions, A Mad World my Masters, Pal Joey, New Wolsey Theatre, Dick Whittington and his Scally Cat, Rockin’ Robin and the Babes from Halewood, Liverpool Everyman; Don Giovanni, Country , Good Golly Miss Molly, Sleeping Beauty, New Victoria Theatre Stoke; Dinner with Sol, White Bear; Heart and Soul, Chester Gateway; In The Midnight Hour, York Theatre Royal; Godspell, Buxton Opera House; Young Apollo, Thorndike Theatre Leatherhead. Georgina has toured extensively throughout the UK, Europe and the Far East. Tours include The Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Company, Chicago, Some Like it Hot, Great Balls of Fire , The Great Gatsby, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Leader of the Pack, Return to The Forbidden Planet. Television includes Katie in Cat`s Eyes BBC2. She trained at The Webber Douglas Academy



Pall Sigthor Palsson

Palli first played with The Rude Mechanicals over a decade and a half ago as one of the Two Gentlemen of Verona and has been a key member of the company since, performing a multitude of roles in several plays, including; The Odyssey, The Fairy Queen, Five Get Famous, The Wife, Gentle Harry’s Farm and Macbyrd. Born and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland, Pall’s acting roots lie in experimental physical theatre and as a fire breathing street performer. He came to England to train at The Guildford School of Acting where he graduated in 1999. He has worked extensively in Iceland over the years as well as in the UK, appearing in shows at The Reykjavik City Theatre (Romeo and Juliet, Footloose), The National Theatre of Iceland (Das Werk), Hafnarfjord Theatre (The Master and Margarita) and Akureyri Municipal Theatre (The Lieutenant of Inishmore). On television in Iceland his roles include the Polish immigrant Vladimir on a weekly children’s entertainment program, a prosecutor in the court drama Réttur (Court) and as down and out gangster Petrol Bjarni in the comedy drama Hlemmi’s Video Shop. To name a few other credits to Pall’s working days would be writing and directing low-budget road movie Courier, being a Reykjavik nightclub bouncer, a London motorbike dispatch rider and a lighting rigger.



André Refig

André is thrilled to be playing humans this year with the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, having played mostly birds last year in Macbyrd (including a lanky Heron!). Previously he has toured Europe in French productions of The Little Prince (playing the King, the Businessman, the Geographer and the Turkish Astronomer) and Mr Ibrahim (Momo’s Father, Car Salesman and Policeman). Other favourite roles include Wilson Mizner in Sondheim’s Road Show (The Union Theatre), Pish-Tush in The Mikado (Grand Theatre, Blackpool), The Old-Green-Grasshopper in James and the Giant Peach, Mr Sheinkopf in Fame (Gordon Craig Theatre), Czolgosz in Assassins (Bridewell Theatre), Don Jose in Blood Carmen (Chelsea Theatre), Sebastian in Twelfth Night and Rosencrantz in Hamlet (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival). He has toured the UK with The National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company in productions of HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Gondoliers, Patience and Iolanthe. He has also toured with Impact Opera in productions of Carmen and The Barber of Seville and has performed several times at The Thursford Christmas Spectacular. He trained in Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music after having studied Physics for many years. He loves baking and sunshine.



Simon Spencer-Hyde

Simon left school in 1986 with 2 U?s at A Level and no hope. Eleven years of sales followed – mostly screws, nuts and bolts, which resolved nothing. Two years with amateur rock band Quiet Life during this time, generously described in the Cambridge Evening News as ?A Pyramid of S**t? nearly put him off performance for ever. However, a degree and two years at theatre school later and things had changed. Work has since included: Ark-ive (The National Theatre & Wildworks): Enchanted Palace (Wildworks): Wind in the Willows (Colchester Mercury): Alice In Wonderland (New Vic Theatre, Stoke): Much Ado About Nothing (Red Shift Theatre): Alan Ayckbourne’s Intimate Exchanges (Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal): The Legend of King Arthur (Oddsocks): The Boy Who Cried Wolf (tutti frutti): Three Witches (Hoopla Productions & Belgrade Theatre): Home Fires (Inroads productions & Zap Arts): 1984 & Macbeth (Creation Theatre): Creak (Penny Dreadful & The Albany): Brockley’s Buried Treasure & Coming Home for Christmas (Penny Dreadful): That’s The Way To Do It & Funny Peculiar (Red Herring): drama documentaries (Granada TV) and a recent TV Commercial for We Buy Any Car.com. Simon is delighted to be let loose with the Rudes again on the South of England, previous shows were Who Saw Marjory Daw? Harlequin Goes to the Moon & The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cat



Miriam Swainsbury

Miriam is delighted to be returning for her second season with the Rudes after cooing and flirting outrageously as Briony in Macbyrd last summer. She trained at Salford University, graduating with First Class Honours and the award for Best Performance in 2010. Prior to that she spent a year as an apprentice with Springs Dance Company touring Italy and the UK. Miriam has just got back from a tour of China and Europe with TNT Theatre Company – appearing as Kate in Taming of the Shrew. Previous roles for TNT Theatre Company are Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Belle in A Christmas Carol. Theatre Credits include: Beauty and the Beast (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield); Beyond the Frontline, (Slunglow, Lowry Theatre); Inheritance & The Narrow Road (Riding Lights Theatre Company); The Carol Myth (Edinburgh Festival); Justin’s House (CBeebies); Healthy Heart (Ten Ten Theatre Company); I’ve Seen Santa (Blunderbus Theatre Company); Don Bosco: The Magic Saint (Rise Theatre). In summer 2012, she was privileged to perform in Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony. Shortly after the Rudes tour Miriam will be tying the knot with University sweetheart Luke.



Rowan Talbot – Musical director


Rowan is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, song writer and actor who lives in Cardiff and trained at Rose Bruford College. His Theatre Composition and Musical Direction includes, Green Man/Red Woman for National Theatre Wales, The Children’s Court for National Theatre Wales and Unicorn Theatre, Momenta for Ransack Dance, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Branwen’s Tale and Twelfth Night all for Taking Flight Theatre Company. Macbyrd, The Comedy of Babi Babbett, The Wife Of Bath, The Dressing Book and The Musicians of Bremen for The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company. The Waiting Game or Basket Case, Sherman Theatre ADI and The Happy Prince for Fabler Theatre Company. Rowan is the resident composer and musical director for Ransack Dance and has recently created the score for ‘A Chartism Son Et Lumiere’, in four movements, for Newport Live/Newport County Council. You will also recognise Rowan as an actor who has worked with The Rudes many times, as well as for other companies. His most recent of numerous roles was playing the Emperor in Aladdin at Theatr Clwyd, Mold, at Christmas.