Two students have created a new theater company on campus.
Gage Rancich and Sage Tokach, acting juniors, are hosting auditions at 2 p.m. March 4 for the Royal Sockspeare Company, a group that will stage Shakespeare plays with sock puppets.
The company, named after the Royal Shakespeare Company in Britain, was inspired partly by a show Rancich saw at the Edinborough Fringe Festival called Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets Do Shakespeare.
“When you’re using something like sock puppets, you have nothing and you have everything because everyone who’s watching the show realizes that it’s a very scaled down version of whatever it is you’re trying to do, said Rancich. “It leaves a lot up to the imagination, which is, in my opinion, a lot of why we go to see shows.”
The company’s debut performance is Othello, and it will tour around campus during finals week. The specific locations are not yet determined, but there will definitely be a performance on the quad. It will be called Sockspeare on the Quad, Rancich said.
The plan is to make a wagon for the shows to take place on and wheel them around to different places on campus. This way, students can walk by this performance on the way to the caf, and to and from exams, Rancich said.
“It’s just to add that feeling of levity to what is otherwise a very stressful week,” said Rancich.
The Sockspeare production of Othello will be abridged and cut down to about two hours tops, Rancich said. The puppeteering will be done in a Potter Puppet Pals type style, but Rancich still wants to keep the integrity of the story.
“I still want a very serious staging of Othello, the tragedy of the Moor,” said Rancich. “I think that is what’s going to give it the most juice as a performance.”
The role of “Othello” will be played by Isaiah Williams, acting senior. Rancich said that it was important for a black actor to play the title role and Williams was part of the reason for picking the show in the first place.
“I can’t pull a Laurence Olivier,” said Rancich. “A white dude using a black sock is like one degree separated from black face. I knew we had a guy who’d probably want to do it who’s just a shoe in for the part.”
No other roles have been cast. Non-traditional casting is being considered, so women can play roles traditionally meant for men and vice versa, Rancich said.
Auditions will comprise of reading sides from the play and making sock puppets with materials provided by Tokach and Rancich. The purpose of this is to help them decide what they want the look of the show to be, Rancich said.
Anyone can audition, including non-performance majors. Shakespeare training isn’t required, but would help, Rancich said.
Rancich and Tokach are already making plans for what the company will do beyond Othello. The goal is to become a full theater company and produce four shows a year during midterms and finals weeks of both semesters. Though they will mostly do Shakespeare plays, they are planning to extend it to other types of plays as well.
The idea of the Royal Sockspeare Company has been getting positive response from the faculty, including some who have expressed interest in auditioning for future productions. Dr. Lance Marsh, professor of acting and head of performance, commented on the Facebook group that it “makes him wild with joy,” Rancich said.
Students are responding positively to the idea as well.
“I think it’s a really cool and a fun opportunity for more people to do theater and Shakespeare,” said Daniel Etti-williams, acting sophomore. “Plus, it’s silly and non-threatening which is awesome.”
One student said it could be an educational experience.
“I think it is a great opportunity to give students another chance to perform while learning more Shakespeare,” said Tyler Malinauskas, acting sophomore. “Gage and Sage are the best people to organize this, too.”
Rancich plans for the company to continue past Othello and the next season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how it grows with the OCU community and keeps going,” Rancich said.
Editor’s note: Sage Tokach is the associate editor for Student Publications. She did not participate in the writing or editing of this story.