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Meet the Cast: Interview with Hew Parham

We spoke with Hew Parham, writer and star of the upcoming Symphonie of the Bicycle and asked him a lightning round of questions about what prompted him to write a play about cycling, why people should come to see Symphonie of the Bicycle, and if he would have his character from the play over for dinner!

Meet Hew Parham

If you’re not a cyclist in your personal life, what prompted you to write a play based on cycling?

I do enjoy cycling but I’m not a full time lycra head. I’ve always loved watching cycling especially the Tour De France ever since I was a kid, it is such an epic test of human endurance.
I was inspired to write a show about cycling whilst working for the Tour Down Under. I set out to make a silly clown show about it but when I heard about Italian cycling champion Gino Bartali I desperately wanted to tell his story. Looking for a complimentary angle or human story to juxtapose Gino’s story, we invented the character of Hew being a wannabe cyclist. In many ways some of my losses and hurts from life were transplanted from life and into a cycling context.

Symphonie of the Bicycle is a one man show. What’s it like to be solo on stage for the duration of the play?

Sweaty. Exhausting. Exhilarating. I never really set out to make a one man show like this and so big and so many characters. I just sort of wrote the beast and then it’s been the challenge of how to work out how to perform it. I think the show in a way takes on an element of the poet, the bard, the Homer who told the epic stories of the time and depicted all the characters.

What do you appreciate about your character in Symphonie of the Bicycle?

I think the character deep down under all his envy, all his perceived slights, has a deep humanity and a love of people. He also has an endurance to him in a way. There is the concept of the lantern rouge which is infamous in the Tour de France as the person who comes last, but the lantern rouge also hasn’t quit, Hew in some ways is the Lantern Rouge to Gino’s champion, but they both persevere and endure.

Why should people come to Symphonie of the Bicycle?

The show is wildly entertaining, funny, tragic and deeply human. It has an epic score and wonderful lighting which supports me in telling what I feel is an important and timely story.

Would you have dinner with your character (Hew)? What would that be like?

I would of course, he would complain a lot but there would be a lot of cheese, a LOT of cheese.