The Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts Division of Northwest Florida State College will premiere an original historically based thriller by theater professor Clint Mahle March 16-19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sprint Theater of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville.
The theatrical production The Third Side is set to appear four nights and is Mahle’s creation under his pen name James Clinton. The work is fictionalized but based on a real historical figure, the 16th century playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary and rival of Shakespeare who was mysteriously killed in 1593—some say assassinated.
Featuring a local cast of 15, the gritty mystery is described as part espionage and part political. It follows a young and proud writer who finds himself in London trying to make his way in the world by climbing the social ladder to success. He finds himself caught between rival forces in the petty intrigues of powerful men and must find his way to survival. The historical Marlowe is thought to have been connected with the notorious London spy networks of the time, and Marlowe’s plays were often more popular than Shakespeare’s at the time when both lived and wrote in London.
“I wrote the work as an experiment on writing a new play using the Elizabethan theatrical model,” says Mahle, who notes that the actors in The Third Side will appear in modern-day dress to present the full-length dramatic thriller in contemporary language. “Last spring, we presented Hamlet in the Sprint Theater, so it will be an interesting twist to produce a play this spring that is based on the death of Shakespeare’s rival.” He says the play explores the idea that truth often lies outside the two sides to a story—the third side.
The Third Side is Mahle’s second original work produced by the college, the first being the fantasy Tales of Airn, staged in 2010. “I hope this new presentation in our black box ‘experimental theater’ space will encourage other authors, and that we’ll be able to present other original works in the flexible Sprint Theater in the future,” he says.
The Sprint Theater has seating and lighting which can be moved into a variety of configurations, including theater in the round, with a 200-person total seating capacity. By contrast, the adjacent Mainstage Theater at the college’s arts complex has 1,650 fixed seats and a 10-story fly space over the stage to accommodate larger scale touring productions.
General admission tickets for The Third Side are now on sale for $15 for adults and $10 for youth ages 18 and younger. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.MattieKellyArtsCenter.org. Box Office phone and in-person hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to any show scheduled in the Mainstage or Sprint Theater. Advance purchase is recommended due to the smaller seating capacity in the Sprint Theater.
Both NWFSC and University of West Florida students may attend the dress rehearsal FREE Monday, March 14, or Tuesday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m. by showing college ID at the door. Or they may request one FREE ticket for the play’s public performance nights by presenting a college ID in-person at the Box Office during regular hours or at the door show nights, space permitting.
The cast includes 19-year-old Jesse Hartsog of Fort Walton Beach in the lead role of the young Christopher Marlowe, along with Daniel Thorton of Baker; Wesley Barlow and Sheila Johnson of Crestview; Joshua Birdsong of Destin; Doug Linder of DeFuniak Springs; Tom Mosley of Freeport; Dylan Garofalo of Santa Rosa Beach; James Meadows, Jason Mueller, Daniel Sindelar and Tara Sindelar of Fort Walton Beach; and Zachary Phillips and Taryn Tomassetti of Niceville.