This December, the English countryside’s roaming hills, cloudy skies, and green fields house a great mystery. You never know who you can trust with a jewel thief on the loose. Thankfully, a detective and sidekick duo are on the case.
Detective Devaroe and The Disappearing Diamonds brings classic mystery tropes to Calgary Academy. This year’s Junior School production premieres December 2, teaching its writer and director an important lesson: nothing ever turns out quite how you imagined it.
The Beginnings of Detective Devaroe and The Disappearing Diamonds
While Detective Devaroe hits the Calgary Academy stage soon, it was born years ago from a love of mystery and Sherlock Holmes. Writer and director of Detective Devaroe, and CA Educator Charlotte Nixon grew up reading the tales of Sherlock Holmes with her father, fostering a love of the genre.
Around seven years ago, Ms. Nixon wanted a writing challenge. Inspired by all the mystery shows airing on television, she set out to write a daring play—the original draft of Detective Devaroe. Ms. Nixon aimed to introduce her unique writing style into a genre known for its subtly, suspense, and seriousness.
“My work tends to be big, loud, goofy…all the things Sherlock Holmes is not. The question was: ‘how do I take a Sherlock Holmes-like character and mash that with my particular writing style?’”
The original drafts of Detective Devaroe sat on the shelf until last year when Ms. Nixon was asked to write a play for the Calgary Academy Junior School production.
Picking up the Detective Devaroe draft, she looked to create a flexible, easily adaptable play, so any CA student could join if they wanted.
With over 45 students (compared to 19 last year) involved in this year’s drama production, finding a way to give everyone their spotlight has been a unique challenge. The answer eventually became clear for Ms. Nixon and the drama department: two separate casts.
Bringing Detective Devaroe from the Page to the Stage
Besides writing, Ms. Nixon is the director of Detective Devaroe, a new experience compared to her background as a playwright. Directing is an exciting opportunity, but it also brings new challenges.
“As a playwright, I only have to speak to myself to decide what’s going to happen. In the director’s chair, there are so many moving parts. So many people to coordinate—costumes, props, cast.” – Ms. Nixon
As Ms. Nixon and the drama department get closer to opening night, the energy and creativity the students bring to the stage become even more noticeable. Each cast has different perspectives on their characters, something Ms. Nixon is thrilled to see. The characters she imagined have completely changed now that they live on the stage.
Rehearsing each scene, Ms. Nixon asks students what they notice, what their character is doing, and what is happening in the overall scene. The cast constantly exceeds expectations with their characters, analyzing and improvising scenes when the opportunity arises.
“The students surprise me every rehearsal…I see new things every day, and each is bigger, goofier, and sillier than it was yesterday.” – Ms. Nixon
While the two casts have taken their characters in different directions, Ms. Nixon isn’t surprised that their creativity is shining through their performances. She sees the students acting as they really are—silly, funny, and interesting people.
“This year, I want students to see and embrace their silliness and wonderful sense of humour. I think if you ask any parent of a child at Calgary Academy, they will tell you that we have some of the funniest kids.” – Ms. Nixon
With opening night just around the corner, make sure you secure your tickets to the show. CA parents can purchase tickets through their PowerSchool accounts. See this tremendous cast when Detective Devaroe and the Disappearing Diamonds debuts on December 2.