Elementary, my dear students

Cole Farquhar stares down the barrel of a gun during his turn as the iconic English detective, Sherlock Holmes. - Peter W. Rusland
Cole Farquhar stares down the barrel of a gun during his turn as the iconic English detective, Sherlock Holmes.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Rebuilding the drama program at Chemainus Secondary School is elementary to teacher Shellie Trimble.

Sherlock Holmes will serve this week's viewers clues about the high school's future shows in the program formerly led by now-retired teacher, Irene King.

Trimble described how some 30 stage students — from actors to stage hands to costume makers — concocted Sherlock.

"They've done everything from sets to costume design.

"We have two new operators from the tech division and we're using our new sound system for the first time.

"It's the kids' show in so many ways."

Whether on stage or back-stage, her cast and crew are "learning commitment to a task."

"We do warm-up activities where everyone gets experience acting, then they go to their areas of interest. It's really interesting seeing kids get confidence and camaraderie that comes with a show. It's truly a team effort."

That team includes Cole Farquhar as eccentrically perceptive English gumshoe, Sherlock.

"It's a great show to use because Sherlock is still a character in modern society and people can relate him," the Grade 12 student said. "It's a good way to appeal to the public; it'll get more people to come and see it."

Farquhar signalled his curious character is letting him to learn more about stage craft.

"I'm definitely finding things out about myself in relating to the characters. Holmes is very awkward and far from the normal human — and that appeals to me, in a sense."

Playwright Tim Kelly's plot has Holmes called to track down some missing letters that could have serious implications for international affairs, Trimble explained.

"All paths lead back to (Holmes' enemy) Moriarty, the mastermind with his own agenda."

The moral, said Farquhar, is that "you don't know who you can trust."

The show is part of his school's five-year plan to rebuild its drama program.

"Every year, we'll add a bit more," Trimble said. "We'll do a musical every second year; last year was Pirates Of Penzance.

She noted some students are also performing lunch-hour improv at Chemainus elementary.

Meanwhile, Farquhar and friends feared a Labour Relations Board ruling, about the current B.C. teachers' strikes and lock-out, could hamper Sherlock Holmes' planned evening performances.

"That's really what we're worried about. We've put months into this play, and it would be our worst nightmare if that happens."


Your ticket

What; Sherlock Holmes

When: June 5 and 6, matinees at 10 a.m., evening shows pending

Where: Chemainus Secondary School gym

Tickets: $10, $7 students, at the door

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