A sock is a shoe and a buskin is a boot. But together, the two have cemented their names in the arts and now in a new theater company based in Center County.
Greg Baptista, the treasurer of the new group, called the Sock & Buskin Theater Company, said the new community company takes a “collaborative approach” to the arts.
Sock & Buskin Theater Company is a “100 percent volunteer organization” that “builds a community for people who love theater,” Baptista said.
For company president Stephanie Austin, “theatre is like a family to people,” creating an environment where community members can collaborate and share the same passions that were important to her when she put together Sock & Buskin.
Austin formed the company, which plays mainly in State College and Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, with a few others in 2022.
“You get to be your true self and express yourself and spend time with a diverse group of people and it really becomes your community,” Austin said. “We want to encourage that and get more people involved.”
In addition to bringing together local actors and crew members, Sock & Buskin seeks to “engage the community” by bringing in “local talent and vendors,” Austin said.
In fact, Sock & Buskin’s debut show in May, “Sibbleger,” was written by local playwright David L. Williams, who lives in nearby Bellefonte.
“I never realized there were these great playwrights next door,” Baptista said. “There is tremendous talent in this area that we want to tap into.”
With one show under the company’s belt, secretary Carrie Williamson said “there [has been] good audience engagement’ and she is ‘excited’ about the next shows being planned.
Sock & Buskin welcomes new members and is “heavily recruiting production staff” for the upcoming fall shows “Sin-ergy” and “Cutthroat Christmas,” Austin said.
Encouraging members of State College and the Bellefonte community to join, Austin said the company will find a place for everyone in its work, even if one “[doesn’t] I know where to start.”
To help with that process, Sock & Buskin plans to offer “role shadowing,” Austin said.
During that process, those interested will have the opportunity to learn about various features of the theater, including lighting and audio, she said.
Along with the idea of creating a learning environment, Austin said there’s more to the Sock & Buskin name, as it’s a moniker for the famous “comedic and tragic masks” often associated with theater.
Going back to the days of traditional ancient Greek theater, “comedic actors wore stocking-like shoes,” while “tragic actors wore a boot called a buskin,” Austin said when describing the history behind those nicknames.
“We like history and history,” Austin said. Also, we didn’t want to equalize [the name] to a certain city just because we didn’t know where the journey would take us.’
Returning to the roots of theater is a theme that runs through Sock & Buskin, according to Baptista, guiding participants back to their passions for theater.
“I did theater in high school and college and just got back into it recently, so it’s nice that this came up and I was able to participate in it when I was pumped,” Baptista said.
Williamson agreed with these sentiments, saying “everyone [her] the experience in the theater is from when [she] was younger’ and that this year it was ‘refreshing’ to do it as an adult.
Whether it’s returning to a beloved passion or a new experience to delve into, Austin said Sock & Buskin has proven to create an environment that supports locals and provides new forms of theater.
“We really want this to be a positive thing for everyone involved,” Baptista said, “to make this a place that’s a positive experience for people that encourages and encourages their love of theater and performing.”
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