Why a much-loved theatre company is 'falling through the gaps'

It’s not just theatres themselves that are struggling - the actors who perform in them face an uncertain future too.

One of the most prolific and popular regional theatre companies is Oddsocks. Established 31 years ago, it tours all around the country, delighting audiences with its comic takes on classic literature and in particular Shakespeare.

But Oddsocks is now struggling to find the help it needs.

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It finds it has fallen through the cracks of every official support package - it is unlikely to see any of the government’s £1.5 billion for the arts - with an application for funding from the Arts Council also having been turned down.

The company is best known for its madcap takes on Shakespeare playsThe company is best known for its madcap takes on Shakespeare plays
The company is best known for its madcap takes on Shakespeare plays

Creative producer Elli Mackenzie said: “As we don’t receive direct funding, we rely on ticket income and with audiences socially distancing theatres will find keeping their income levels at a workable rate extremely difficult and we will no doubt be a casualty of that”.

Artistic director and Elli’s husband Andy added: “We take good quality, professional theatre across most regions of the UK and entertain thousands of people from all walks of life who might not otherwise see theatre almost on their doorstep, in non- arts spaces like parks and gardens as well as local arts centres in the winter.

“Our following and the fact that we have survived unfunded for 31 years speaks for itself which is why a little bit of help at a time of emergency from the arts establishment in this country would have been gratefully received.”

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Oddsocks has appealed for help on social media, with donations flooding in, from as little as £2.50 to donations of over £100.

Elli said: “We were bowled over by the support and made sure that we shared out the income with our freelance actors who were also suffering from a sudden end to their work and we will continue to do that as donations come in.

“Also, a few of our venues who we were planning to tour to have very kindly allowed us to keep payments to carry forward to 2021 which was very generous, but apart from that and the donations, we have nothing coming in and no other work - the future is still very uncertain.”

The company has been busy in lockdown, with Elli and Andy keen to keep their audience engaged with their work.

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The performers have been live-streaming Shakespeare adaptations with a difference direct from their own family home.

* This article is part of The Show Must Go On, JPIMedia's campaign to support live arts venues

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