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Shakespeare's Richard III, Set in Futuristic 2134 for Unique Techno Approach in NWF State College Production March 18 to 21

Mattie Kelly Arts Center


2/26/2009 - William Shakespeare's historical drama, Richard III, takes a new twist in the upcoming presentation March 18 to 21 at 7:30 pm by the Fine and Performing Arts Division at Northwest Florida State College. The college's Spring production will be presented in the Sprint Theater at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on the college's Niceville campus and is described by director Clint Mahle as ''a bit like The Matrix meets Shakespeare'' in both costuming and conceptual approach. The tragedy about Shakespeare's most notorious villain will be presented in a futuristic fashion as taking place in the year 2134.

Tickets are now on sale at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center box office in-person or by phone at (850)729-6000 for $15 for adults and $10 for youth 18 and younger. The box office is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm and will also open at 6 pm each night of the show for any remaining at-the-door tickets. As the Sprint Theater is the smaller of the two theaters in the arts complex, advance tickets are recommended. Exclusive student nights at which NWF State College students and area school students are admitted free with a current student ID are March 16 and 17 at 7:30 pm on a first-come seating basis.

''Developing the concept to do the play in the future was a real collaborative effort between the crew and designers,'' said Mahle, who has previously directed Shakespeare plays at the college which were set in the 1960's and in Elizabethan times. ''It's not that we didn't want to do Shakespeare in the traditional setting - because we have in the past - it's just that creative concepts such as this one can really open up Shakespeare's genius to a broader and younger audience,'' said Mahle. He noted that the concept even includes a cyber-arm to replace Richard III's traditional withered arm, video with screen projections to help the audience follow the back-story and ''some cool techno-style costumes especially for the women's roles.''

In the NW Florida State College production of Richard III, the drama will be set in the fictional Holographic Museum of London as a living history exhibit that ''looks back'' to the year 2134, beginning with Edward IV of the Dynastic Era and following the rise to power of Edward's brother, Richard Plantagenet of York, through a series of murders and assassinations.

This futuristic ''historic'' story begins just after the signing of a treaty during the celebration of the end of the long Century Wars between the two houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. Richard, seeing himself becoming obsolete in peace time, has decided to turn the world upside down again. Not only is he fed up with the laziness of peace, but he also sees his former enemies enjoying preferred status at the hands of his brother, King Edward IV. Much to Richard's disgust, Edward has even gone so far as to marry the widow of a Lancaster warlord, Elizabeth Grey.

With the aid of the Duke of Buckingham, Richard is able to rid himself of all possible rivalries and install himself as King of England. The list is long which includes two brothers, two nephews, and a wife. However, his power ''falls on brittle glass'' as he is ultimately challenged by Henry Lancaster, Duke of Richmond.

As one of Shakespeare's most notorious villains, Richard III has been played by such notables as Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, and others. Clint Mahle of Niceville will play the lead role of Richard III in the NWF State College production.

Richard's brother, King Edward IV, is played by Alan Tuttle of Niceville; George, Duke of Clarence, is played by Benjamin Olson of Niceville; the Keeper of the Tower of London, Brackenbury, is played by Michelle Rhodes of DeFuniak Springs; Princess Anne, is portrayed by Chelsea Sorenson of Shalimar; two murderers who conspire with Richard in his plots are played by Kiana Johnson of Niceville and Joshua Burger of Valparaiso.

Edward's loyalist lords; Rivers, Hastings, Grey and Dorset, played by Joseph Bishop of Eglin Air Force Base, Danny Thomas of Niceville, Cristin Cotton of Niceville, and Greg Stoughton of Bluewater Bay respectively. Margaret, the widow of King Henry VI, is played by Sheila Johnson of Crestview and Richard's mother, the Duchess of York, is played by Cynthia Rhodes of DeFuniak Springs.

Others who conspire with the devious Richard III are Buckingham, played by Bruce Collier of DeFuniak Springs, and Catesby, played by Tara Adam of Niceville. Elizabeth, wife to Edward IV, is played by Alicia Leonard of DeFuniak Springs. The last of Richard's supporters, Lord Stanley, is played by Robert Reynolds of Fort Walton Beach.