An interview with Oddsocks Director, Andy Barrow and Dom Gee Burch playing Prospero and Caliban, Capulet and Mercutio in Oddsocks’ tour of The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet touring until September 2018.
Can you tell us a bit about Oddsocks, Andy?
Andy: Oddsocks is an independent self-funded theatre company whom receive no public funding! We like to get out and about touring the country by producing classic stories in the winter and Shakespeare in the Summer. We like to make Shakespeare accessible and entertaining for a family audience. We do this by taking the idea of the way Shakespeare performed his plays and combine it with contemporary music and making them relevant to todays audiences.
What’s it like working with Oddsocks, Dom?
Dom: Working with Oddsocks is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, companies that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. You never quite know what is going to be expected of you, which is what brings me back. It is always very exciting, because as an actor/human, I get very bored of not being challenged, and as a bonus, I get excited about all the additional skills I will learn with the company.
Oddsocks have a very distinct performance style, talking and involving the audience and having a lot of fun.. but is it as fun as it looks?
Dom: Yeah, it’s great as it isn’t prescriptive. I think that’s the key part of it. When it comes to audience interaction, I can not think of nothing more cringe-worthy when I’m an audience member myself (because that’s the only type of stuff I’ve seen!). But the Oddsocks style of audience interaction is honest. You see, I don’t feel as if I’m being made a fool of, by getting involved.
Andy: We’ve always thought of theatre being a shared experience. When we first started including audience interaction, I was always quite nervous at how the audience would receive it and I quickly realised that audiences enjoy it very well and so I’ve learned to embrace that and share those fun interactive times with the audience. It’s a very live experience, although it’s very much the same, it is very different with due to various elements: audience members, weather, region, the venue, so it keeps you on your toes but it’s very ‘in the moment’.
Do you have a favourite? The Tempest or Romeo and Juliet?
Andy: It’s funny, because when we first begin doing the two shows…
Dom: …You always think the one that you do first is the best, but then you do the second show and you think “oh no THIS one’s the best!”. I’m familiar with and seem to connect more musically with The Tempest than Romeo and Juliet, which makes me excited to perform Romeo and Juliet, simply because I didn’t know it, however, I’ve come to appreciate the music within Romeo and Juliet.
…So, the Tempest is a favourite then?
Andy & Dom: Yes!
What’s it like rehearsing and touring two shows at the same time?
Andy: It is challenging and hard work because you don’t really have much free time in some ways. It probably takes a good three weeks on the road, before being completely settled. All of the rehearsal and opening of the tour is pretty full on, because you haven’t settled on a show until you have embedded it for a good 7-10 days. Also, everyone is doing everything and getting to know the set, music, lines, characters, performing it live, you are constantly learning.
Dom: You’ll spend rehearsals learning everything, but the first three weeks on tour you’re still learning how the show works. It doesn’t just involve the acting, at the same time you’re learning your purpose and responsibilities within the get in and get outs at each venue. So whilst you’re learning that role, you also fine-tune your roles within the plays. So overall, you’re required to use your head differently and switch between acting and managing responsibilities.
What’s the best and worst thing about being on the road?
Andy: Missing your loved ones. Not having your home space and comforts. The best thing is the energy you receive from other people and of course it’s that one part of the day that you are on stage performing, doing what you love the most, and making others feel good and entertaining them.
Dom: It is great meeting different people and travelling around to different areas, but as much as it is a cliché, it is missing your loved ones. You have to go with the flow really, you can make it really hard work for yourself, but you have to accept that you aren’t away forever and will return home.
What can an audience expect from Oddsocks’ The Tempest & Romeo and Juliet? Can you sum it up in 3 words?
Andy: I think The Tempest is quite outrageous; the characters and the situations they get themselves into. They’re pretty unusual and I think it’s quite bold. So three words for The Tempest: Intergalactic Glitter Extravaganza... My three words for Romeo and Juliet would be: Bank Holiday Party.
Dom: The Tempest is definitely… an experience. It’s the familiar Oddsocks style, yet packaged up very differently. Visually, it looks GREAT. Three words? Disco, Glam-Space Party... For Romeo and Juliet, I’d say: Mod-Rocker Madness with a historical edge.
Andy: So, we can’t sum it up in three words I’m afraid…
Dom: No we can’t, so we refuse to answer that question…
The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet come to Lakeside on Friday 20 & Saturday 21 July. Bring a rug or cushion, a picnic if you like, and enjoy this amazing outdoor theatre experience.