Next arts series' event is April 10-11

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By The Staff

In 2006-2007, a "Home Roots Series" began as a part of the Central Kentucky Arts Series.

Todd Parker brought The Youth Performing Arts School Percussion Ensemble to Campbellsville High School's Hamilton Auditorium. This season features John Paul Davenport, Campbellsville native, bringing his high school students from Oxford, Miss. to perform "The Chairs."

On Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11, the Oxford students will present the play, "The Chairs," at 7 p.m. at the Campbellsville University Theatre.

Admission will be by membership in the Central Kentucky Arts Series or by door admission of $10 for adults and $3 for students and children.

Davenport is the son of Tommy and Barbara Davenport. He is a graduate of Taylor County High School and, according to him, "grew up in the theater" at Campbellsville University. Currently he teaches theater arts at Oxford High School in Oxford, Miss.

When he began teaching there in fall 2001, the drama teaching position was only part-time. He had about 52 students and taught three classes. There was primarily one production a year - the annual musical.

He now has about 140 students a day, five different levels of classes - introduction to theatre, theatre II, musical theatre, theatre production and theatre III. There are now six separate productions in a school year - five main stage productions and one festival production - with an occasional seventh production in the summer.

Davenport was honored as Oxford High School Teacher of the Year in 2003 and Oxford School Districts Employee of the week in September 2007. He and his students were selected to perform at the International Fringe Festival in Scotland as a part of the American High School Theatre Festival in 2007. "Kudzu: The Hometown Musical" was presented.

The audience appreciated this with a standing ovation. Following this, they were given an invitation to apply for the International Fringe Festival for summer 2009.

The following awards were received at the North Mississippi High School Drama Festival: 2002 - for Best Actress, All Star Cast, Outstanding Direction and Overall Winner for "The Man Who Couldn't Dance;" 2003 - Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, All Star Cast, Best Musical Composition, Outstanding Direction and Overall Winner for "Dear Departed;" 2004 - Best Actress, All Star Cast and Overall Winner for "The Love Talker;" 2005 - All Star Cast and Overall Winner for "Forever Plaid;" 2007 - Best Acting Ensemble, Outstanding Direction and All Star Cast for "Twelve Angry Men."

Awards were received at the Mississippi Theatre Association Convention in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 and from the MTA 10-Minute Play Contest in 2004 and 2005.

Since 2001, the success of the program has sparked an interest in the theatre physical space. The original auditorium was built in 1963 and had no alterations until the school board and administrators stated that the auditorium should match the quality of productions that take place in it.

In the spring of 2006, construction began on a $1.6 million renovation to the original proscenium stage and house. It is now complete and two successful seasons have taken place in the new theatre.

Davenport began his teaching career in Oxford with the stage as his classroom and no storage. He now has a full classroom that is connected to the auditorium with adequate storage. He has helped people in Oxford see the importance of theatre and art.

Evidence of this is the Theatre Arts Guild formed by a group of parents and community members who are interested in encouraging and supporting theatre arts in public education. Their primary function is to assist the theatre program at Oxford High School.