Whitehall Trailers, Ifor Williams Trailers distributor based in Warwickshire sped to the rescue to make sure the show goes on for King Lear and the renowned Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
The company, based on the banks of the Thames alongside where the playwright’s own Globe theatre once stood, was left stranded when thieves stole one of its two specially adapted trailers, which carry props and costumes on tour.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Joseph Marcell is playing the misguided monarch in the London-based company’s tour in the UK and USA which lasts until November 18.
The trailer is also pressed into use as a stage during performances, becoming a wind-blasted heath through to a cliff-top edge and a king’s castle.
With a race against the clock to get back on the road in time, or see shows in the UK, Europe and the US cancelled, Shakespeare’s Globe production director Paul Russell called for help from Nick Whitehall, who distributes Ifor Williams Trailers from his company near Stratford.
Within days a new trailer was built to the company’s specifications, and rolled off the company’s production line in North Wales, en route for Stratford upon Avon,. There Nick met Paul and his team, who had headed north from London to collect it.
"The previous trailer was a bespoke one and specially designed for us," explained Paul. "It was stolen from outside a storage unit at Greenwich, where it was waiting to be collected for a service.
"It was a real blow to us, as we needed one to take the production on tour - the second trailer is already committed for a second tour, of Much Ado About Nothing. So I started calling different trailer companies - fortunately Nick thought he would be able to help, and he got on to Ifor Williams Trailers to make sure we had it in time.
"We now need to fit it out for the props, and other alterations so we can also use it as a stage. We put oak planks across to convert it and it becomes a lot of different locations during the performance."
When Nick got Paul’s plea for help at the company’s base in Stockton, Near Southam. Warwickshire, he knew that he had to move swiftly ensure that the tour went ahead as planned.
"We usually sell trailers for transporting everything from horses to business goods, but this was something different," said Nick.
"I got straight on to the team at Ifor Williams Trailers in North Wales and they have been working hard to meet the tough deadlines.
"I was very relieved when I was finally able to hand over the trailer to Paul. I am now tempted to head off to Oxford when the company performs in the Bodleian Library Quad, just to see how it becomes the stage," added Nick, who is celebrating more than 20 years with the company, which his father Ron founded in 1966.
Andrew Reece-Jones, the Design Engineering Manager at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: "We were pleased to be able to do our bit to keep the show on the road.
"From time to time we do get some unusual requests and wherever possible we try to accommodate the customer’s requirements.
"We’re glad that this time we have another satisfied customer. We certainly wouldn't have wanted a Shakespearian tragedy turning into a comedy of errors."
The production of King Lear stars Joseph Marcell, who played English butler Geoffrey in the NBC hit The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, alongside Will Smith. St Lucian born actor Marcell won plaudits for the role of the king who attempts to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, during last year’s tour.
Also appearing are Gwendolen Chatfield, who has just appeared alongside Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas in movie The Invisible Woman, plus Silk star Shanaya Rafaat and TV actor Bill Nash.
"The eight different actors all take different roles during the performance, which is out in the open. Plus we have live music, all acoustic, and people come along with their picnics," said Paul.
"In a way we are going back to Shakespeare's roots with a band of strolling players, performing in parks, field, stately homes, castles and college quads around the UK, Europe and America. But we couldn’t do that without a trailer to carry everything."
News » Trailer firm to the rescue as it gets King Lear on the road for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre