William Mumler is a historic figure, but not one necessarily seen frequently on the stages of Florida theaters.
The story of the 19th century spirit photographer — who made a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of her deceased spouse Abraham Lincoln — is told in Alaskan playwright Arlitia Jones' "Summerland."
The play debuted at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park last year and is being performed for the second time at Daytona Beach's Museum of Arts & Sciences. Volusia County's Positively Florida Theater Company is putting on this weekend's production.
Jones was compelled to tell the story because of an interest in Mumler's character as well as the man tasked with investigating him. Everything in Mumler's world depends on his work being true and everything in the investigator's world depends on him proving otherwise, Jones explained.
"If either man is proven wrong it will destroy them," she said.
A 53-year-old who lives in Anchorage and works at her family's meat shop, Jones said she has had short plays performed outside of Alaska but this is her first full-length play to be picked up outside of her state.
"When your stories get told to a larger audience it gives you the courage as a playwright to stand up a little taller," she said.
Joey Maxwell, who is portraying Mumler, said performing in a play that is not well known gives him "the freedom to develop this character as I see fit."
"We have a lot more freedom to interpret the author's words in the script," the DeLand resident said.
The show's director, Spencer Meehl, found "Summerland" while searching through a service that licenses plays to theaters, according to Positively Florida President Gary Broughman.
"He's always exploring for new and innovative kinds of theater," Broughman said. "This was one he just couldn't put down."
Maxwell thinks the audience members will feel similarly about the story set in 1869.
"This one is nail biting from start to finish," he said.
A play that explores a man who took images of the dead fits Positively Florida as the group often does productions that include a spiritual element, Broughman said.
"We like to do things that have some reach beyond just the entertainment of it," he said.