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Volume 25, Number 2 — February 2018

Camille Davis thrives on her hectic schedule

Camille Davis
Camille Davis

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 30, 2018

Broadway roadshows, or rather what she couldn't see at the show, captured the imagination of Camille Davis.

"Growing up I had always gone to see the Broadway roadshows that came through Nashville and was fascinated by all the stuff I couldn't really see all the behind the scenes things I knew were going on.

"Fast forward to undergrad. My college had a wonderful performing arts center that also had Broadway roadshows (and everything else) coming through. Though I was majoring in music, I took a technical theater course as an elective and as part of the class, got to help load-in these roadshows. It was so amazing and exciting to me. I was hooked. I immediately added theater as a second major and have been doing it ever since," Davis says.

About a year after she graduated from Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, she became the assistant technical director at their performing arts center (The Norton Center for the Arts).

"That is where I really learned the most, because I was thrown into it and had to learn fast and on the job in many instances. I got to do everything from build scenery, run crews, design lights, run everything from backstage to sound, act as crew chief for large road shows, run national music festivals, etc.

"There was also a great and very active community theater in town, and I did lots of work with them in terms of designing and building sets and lights. On a side note, that is where I met Cathy Bush, who is now Barter's Playwright-in-Residence," she says.

Davis then went back to school at Carnegie Mellon University to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree in lighting design. She worked in New York and then found her way south again to Barter Theatre. She came to Barter in 2011 as director of production and associate artistic director.

In addition to those responsibilities, she also designs lights for several shows each year.

As director of production, she is involved in some way in all the productions at Barter.

This season, she designs lighting for "Facility for Living," "Richard III," "The Lemonade Stand," "Madame Buttermilk," "Sally McCoy," "Bridges of Madison County," "Wooden Snowflakes" and "Santaland Diaries."

Working on that many shows a year is not only hectic, but it can get confusing.

"I can't tell you how many times I've had to say, "Sorry, wrong show' when in conversation with someone. Or I get an email about some issue, but it doesn't specify which show, and I have to sit there asking myself, "Now which show does this sound like'?"

Her job schedule is all consuming, but she thrives on that.

"It is all consuming, but that is what I think we thrive on. You can't really survive in this kind of life if you don't." She relaxes by cooking, "I have tons of recipes still to try," she says.

The rewards are myriad.

"Being out in public, whether it be in a restaurant or just on the sidewalk, and overhearing people talk about what a great show they just saw at Barter and listening to them go on and on about everything from the performances to the music, sets, costumes and everything in between. Hearing that what we do really has impact on people and brings them joy is a great feeling. This is especially true when you hear it from kids (and parents) that come out of a Barter Player show.

"Knowing that via several of our programs, such as the Player tours, run outs, the education department, we are able to bring theater to people, especially children, that might not ever get to experience it otherwise.

"I truly believe in the importance and power of the arts. They can truly change (or even save) lives. Unfortunately, many of our leaders today don't see this and therefore cut arts funding, school arts programs, etc. Barter, however, fights against this every day via our education programs, working to find ways for our shows to be affordable to all, the sheer number of shows we produce each year, and in our commitment to this area of the country," she says.
She says that the plays coming up in this season are her favorites, because they offer a chance to go explore and hopefully go somewhere they haven't gone before — and share that experience with an audience.
There's also one more thing she's looking forward to this season: celebrating Barter Theatre's 85th anniversary and Barter continuing another 85 years. (2018 is Barter's 85th anniversary).

"If you look at it logically, this theater has defied all the odds to survive as long as it has. It is just an amazing and important story for the past, present and future," Davis says.

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Topics: Theatre