‘Shadow of Son,’ is an all-Oxford-show and Davenport’s 125th play at OHS

Published 2:41 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

While all Oxford High Theater productions are quality, professional shows, its newest play is undoubtedly more special to its director, cast and audience.

“Shadow of the Son,” opened Thursday in the Ava H. Bonds Auditorium in the OHS Fine Arts Building; however, there are two more chances to attend this production that was written by Oxford native, Kate Leslie and composed by Oxonian Damein Wash.

It is the first time the show has been performed on a stage.

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It is also OHS Theater’s director and drama teacher John Davenport’s 125th production at OHS.

The play is about Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and her brother, Apollo, the god of the sun.

Expected to live up to the ideals of the immortals, Artemis longs for freedom and the opportunity to chart her own path. But when she builds her own world away from that of her father, she has potentially traded one set of impossible expectations for another.

Presented by Hardy Reed, the play will be presented tonight, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The playwright, Leslie, is an OHS alum and was also a faculty member between 2008-2012. She recently finished her Masters in Playwriting and was working on this script when COVID came about. She had several workshop readings over Zoom but never got the opportunity to have it staged, as she was seeking to adjust the script after seeing and hearing it in a fully mounted production.

“I decided to do that, and so we are the first to get to work with the script to get it to its definitive version,” Davenport said. “Kate has been making adjustments and rearrangements along the way as we have rehearsed it.”

Davenport realized the show would be his 125th production a couple of months ago.

“It is just a coincidence, but I am excited that this milestone coincides with such a special project,” he said. “I am still in denial; I have done that many shows here, although I am pretty certain the lines on my face and circles under my eyes prove it.”

Davenport said that while looking back over his years at OHS and his earliest productions, what stands out most to him now is remembering how little they had to work with years ago and how that’s changed today.

“The students of long ago would be astounded at what our current students have,” he said. “I am constantly wondering if our current students realize how fortunate they are to be so supported by this community. What they have now is purely a result of the hard work put in by the students well before them.”

Davenport said this is the first time the theater group has done a new play like “Shadow of the Son.”

“Because it is so special, I wanted to make sure we did the script properly by bringing in a full creative team,” he said. “One of which is local musician, Damein Wash, who has composed a beautiful score that has been performed by our current music students.”

Wash and Leslie worked together at Oxford Middle School for four years previously, with Leslie as the drama teacher and Wash as the choral director.

Leslie said her play has been a work in progress for more than five years.

“I was scheduled to have a workshop production in the spring of 2020, which was inevitably canceled,” she said. “After the pandemic, it feels like there are even fewer opportunities for new plays to be performed – to see John Davenport bring this script to life with his students is a real honor.”

More than a story inspired by Greek mythology, Leslie said the play also focuses on relationships between parents and their children.

“How do young people embrace who they are when sometimes that may be at odds with the expectations placed on you by your family or society as a whole,” she said. “My hope is that the heart of this play is about coming of age and finding your own independence.”

Wash said it has been meaningful to work with his former coworkers from the Oxford School District.

“Having the students play my music is a great way to stay connected to OSD and this creative Oxford community,” Wash said.

Tickets can be purchased online at oxford’s.booktix.com.