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A female white faced clown, smiling and wearing a cowboy hat.


What we do

The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, affectionately known as The Rudes, have been producing high quality professional theatre, in our own unique style, since 1999. We have a hugely loyal fan-base that come to see us year-after-year and we work across Southern England from Devon to Kent. Our shows are aimed at adults but enjoyed by all ages and are performed mainly outdoors, and sometimes, in a circus style 'Little Big Top'. We are best known for our outdoor summer tours and taking theatre into small rural communities. We do get into towns and cities occasionally where there are concentrations of Rudes’ fans 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!

Our casts are composed of experienced, top quality professional theatre actors and actor-musicians who have often trained in mime, clown or commedia. Most members of our team are also musicians, and our original live music is integrated with the action.

A male white faced clown playing the trumpet, wearing black sun glasses, a sharp suit and looking cool.
Five white faced clowns in a group gazing at the moon.


our style

Our style of performance is our own, our brand, & a hybrid of the accumulated influences of the actors, artists and musicians we have worked with & what they have brought as individuals. We are heavily influenced by commedia dell’arte, music hall, vaudeville, silent movie, circus & pantomime, but always with a serious intent to stimulate thought as well as to entertain.

While we are influenced by the commedia dell’arte, we are not a ‘heritage’ company – neither English nor Italian, but we use tools from that tradition – as and when we see fit – to produce new work. For example, we often use large comic movement and physical jokes called lazzi and burli, much of which are part of a tradition that is hundreds of years old. We use 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, vocal sound effects and devices of our own we are constantly looking to exploit the poetic, fantastic and absurd. Using magic realism our stories slip easily between the realistic & the fantastical while constantly reminding the audience that ‘it’s just a play’ & we are actors.


Although we do include a few towns where there are concentrations of Rudes supporters, as explained above, our main work is in small rural communities where we have over a long time built up strong bonds & a common theatrical language. We have been going to many of the venues for 20 years & many others over ten. We are very close to our audiences therefore; children have grown up with us & now bring their own children. We are deeply embedded in these people’s lives. Our local organisers are among our greatest assets. ‘Community’ for us is a key principle: It combats loneliness (especially in the elderly), provides fundamental cultural opportunities to celebrate the milestones of life & the chance to participate in key rights such as democracy. It forms the backbone of all we believe in & the functioning of our art form.

A female white faced clown with pink hair, smiling and wearing a straw hat.
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