A Midsummer Night&#039;s Dream<br />
Oddsocks Productions 2019

Happy Birthday Oddsocks! Elli Mackenzie on 30 years of staging Shakespeare

Posted on 12 June 2019

Four young lovers will run away from home to party at a summer music festival this June when Oddsocks Productions rework A Midsummer Night’s Dream with their signature blend of music, magic, mischief and mayhem.

Known for their unique approach to staging Shakespeare, the company this year celebrate their 30th anniversary with a riotous reimagining of one of the Bard’s most wild and wacky plays. Ahead of the show’s arrival at the Belgrade Theatre 18-20 June, producer Elli Mackenzie told us more.

Tell us a bit about Oddsocks.

Oddsocks Productions is a theatre production company which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. We tour nationally and sometimes internationally with productions of Shakespeare (open-air and indoor performances) and renowned classic tales for family audiences in the winter.

We are a self-funded, family-run business! My husband Andy and I set up Oddsocks in 1969 after graduating in 1986 from The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts. This coming summer we are touring A Midsummer Night’s Dream and for winter we are planning a new production The Adventures of Pinnocchio.

Oddsocks A Midsummer Night's Dream

Can you tell us a little bit about why you have chosen this particular Shakespeare play this year and whether you’ve ever done it before?

We have done it many of times over the years in many different ways! A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably one of the most accessible Shakespeare plays, which can appeal to a wide range of audiences, from younger children and families to those who are particularly interested in Shakespeare.

It’s a classic and whenever we have performed it before, many audience members have requested to see it again. No matter how many times it has been performed, it just does not expire, because it is innately funny. There are lots of risqué lines within the script, fun and magical parts throughout and plenty of opportunities for us to insert our fantastic music – an element which we add to all of our productions.

It’s a great story and really exciting as it includes a ‘charm of fairies’, however, they are not the ‘floaty’ type of fairies that one may expect – our fairies are fairies with a difference! Everybody in the story gathers together to celebrate and throw a big party, which is a great production choice for Oddsocks as it’s a fun, energetic comedy and slots in perfectly with celebrating our 30th anniversary!

Oddsocks A Midsummer Night's Dream

You mentioned that this year is the big 30th anniversary for Oddsocksare there any particular highlights for you from the past thirty years?

One of the most exciting things that sticks in my mind is touring to the Middle East – we toured to Jordan and Syria for a number of years in the early 90s, which couldn’t be repeated now for obvious reasons when it comes to Syria, so it’s a very poignant and special memory that we have.

Another highlight would have to be the people we’ve met along the way: all of the stand-out actors that have become family-friends and not just employees.
There are many highlights when it comes to performances and moments of surprise like standing ovations. So for example, we sang Take That’s ‘Shine’ at the end of a show and people were upstanding, waving their mobile phones in the air, as if they were at a concert!

In 30 years, can you guess how many tours you’ve completed and tell us which have been your favourites?

Wow… we began touring twice a year since 1994, so definitely around fifty tours have been completed! A favourite tour for me was Twelfth Night in the winter of 1995 because it featured a very young Nina Shasanya, who was really fun to work with and who has now gone onto amazing opportunities and is never off stage or the television! Which is exciting, because I knew she was great from the get-go!

Wind in the Willows was a favourite of mine because of the people we toured with but also because I absolutely loved playing the role of Mole! I practically became a mole…

Oddsocks A Midsummer Night's Dream

Being a self-funded company for thirty years is a HUGE success in itself! What else would you say has been the most rewarding aspect when running Oddsocks?

From the perspective of a mother and business owner, the most rewarding thing is that running my own business has allowed me to be there for my family and not miss out on the significant moments in my children’s lives. So for example, I was able to schedule my work around the school-run and was able to be there at the school gates for my children.

It’s a very personal thing, so whilst that can bring you problems (sometimes you can feel like you’re living in a fish-bowl) it has also meant that we’ve had fun as a business because it has been part of our family life too!

Another rewarding aspect is having access to and working with amazing theatres and like-minded people. A favourite thing for me is going into a theatre and being made to feel at home!

Oddsocks A Midsummer Night's Dream

It’s fantastic that you are able to offer employment in an ever-growing challenging industry as a self-funded company. Can you give us an estimate of how many people have joined in Oddsocks fun over the years?

I would definitely say around 300 people, quite a lot of whom return to us year after year. There have always been odd occasions when someone has come along, worked a tour with us and have decided at the end that it isn’t for them – which is absolutely fine! However, the majority have either stayed in touch or have become close friends.

Over the past 30 years, what would you say has been the ‘oddest’ thing about running Oddsocks Productions?

So, when I pop out at lunch time with a list for costumes and props, it can include things like: XXXXL bras and underwear, false left hand, ten cans of silly string and a bunch of blue bananas.

What can we expect from Oddsocks’ performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this Summer?

A fun, party-like atmosphere with a festival feel all at the same time! Fantastic and familiar music, the Oddsocks trademark humour in an honest telling of the classic and generally a great evening out for all of the family.

Oddsocks A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream shows at the Belgrade Theatre from Tuesday 18 until Thursday 20 June. Tickets are available to book now.