Couple brings performing arts to Tallahassee’s Southside
By Lyric Mattair
A Tallahassee couple is living a dream that could transform entertainment on the south side of town.
E. Marie and husband Noble Sissle III, began thinking about owning a theater a little more than a year ago. Two Saturdays ago, they opened the doors of Midtown Arts and Entertainment to a packed house on South Monroe Street.
Located near the corner of South Monroe and Magnolia street, the small area seems to have the potential to deliver big on entertainment in its location. The owners’ goal is to make it a central place for artists and poets. They also hope to have a lounge setting where their guests could play board games, listen to music and view artists’ work.
The husband and wife duo had been partially living their dream before finding the Southside location, using churches and rental venues as their playhouse. They entered their new venue with plenty of experience; having participated in stage plays most of their lives.
What they’ve set out on could be the first step to generating more interest in the performing arts, said Edna McMillan, a supporter of the playhouse.
“I think it’s a great asset to the Southside,” McMillan said, adding that it could be especially inspiring for young people. “It brings a fresh perspective to the things that African Americans are involved in beside the normal genre that we see in media.
“It shows the level of creativity that’s needed on the Southside. It will motivate a lot of the youth in the area, as well as their parents to explore acting and theater.
The little theater, nestled in the former home of a store-front business, has a throw-back ambience. They produced the first play, “Shuffle Along,” without microphones, with a few spot lights.
The audience seemingly enjoyed every bit of the production, though. The couple wants them to keep coming by making their admission prices reasonable.
“Our mission is to be affordable and accessible,” Marie said. “We want people to come to our facility and not worry about the prices. Southside is the perfect place for it.”
Eventually, they would like for the theater to become a melting pot of young actors. In addition to plays, they’d like to stage concerts, music and arts festivals, as well as arts education programming, said Marie.
The owners said they don’t always have to be the promoters of every event in the building.
“We’re here and available to rent,” said Marie, “If anybody has an idea for a show we are here for artists, we are open to everybody.”