Heritage Park secondary teacher Beverly Holmes instructs students on stage during rehearsals for Dark of the Moon

Heritage Park secondary teacher Beverly Holmes instructs students on stage during rehearsals for Dark of the Moon

Building a community through a lifelong passion for the theatre

Heritage Park teacher has spent years putting on plays and musicals

(This story has been updated to correct a few errors: a spelling error of a name; Beverley Holmes has a major in theatre, not a minor, from the University of Victoria; and the article incorrectly said she interviewed by film for a job in Quesnel. The Record regrets the errors.)

Beverley Holmes has devoted the better part of the last 35 years to giving students the confidence and poise needed to find their voices on stage, the past 16 of those right here in Mission.

The Heritage Park secondary teacher had been working in Maple Ridge for nine years when she heard Mission was building a brand new theatre. She contacted the principal for an interview and the rest, as they say, is history.

“What I find the most important thing in what I do is building community with the kids,” she said, adding that theatre pulls a diverse array of personalities together to create these new, temporary communities on stage.

Holmes retires next year from a career that began in 1978 after graduating with a teaching degree and a theatre major from the University of Victoria. Theatre may have been embedded in her DNA; her parents met as part of a repertoire group in England.

As a child, she said even when she used to play make believe with other children, she’d always be the “bossy” one directing the others.

After graduating university, she went to Nigeria for a year, and started a drama club at a secondary school. Then she returned to Canada and went to South America for another year.

“I thought I’d just do that forever, work here, travel here… and then the ‘80s hit.”

Holmes needed a job, so she interviewed for a job in Quesnel and they asked if she could do a musical. Although she’d never done one before, she agreed, and a drama teacher was born.

Holmes often has to do the work of many people that a professional theatre company would, including directing, producing, and sometimes making costumes. Her last production, Dark of the Moon, ran March 6-10 at the Clarke Theatre, the third time she’s tackled the project. The play marked the final production of her career, describing the experience as quite exhausting.

“I liken it to the gestation of a child,” she says, describing the process. It begins with an idea, followed by meeting with students to discuss how to approach the play, and then work begins on buildings storyboards and doing background research, all before the rehearsals and costume designs begin.

Dark of the Moon, a Broadway play from 1945, centres around the character of a witch boy who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl. The play ends in a tragedy fit for Shakespeare, but involves several dark contemporary issues which attracted Holmes.

“I like things that kind of take you on a journey, but give you something to think and talk about afterwards.”

Holmes says she tends to be more drawn to the darker side of art, which means she enjoys contemporary theatre more than the classics because they tend to push the envelope more.

Holmes said the best thing about having worked in Mission for the past decade and a half are the students, adding some students of hers have gone on to do great things, like Carly Rae Jepsen who appeared in several of her musicals.

“I think theatre is important because it does build a community, it does build discipline and focus and cooperation and teamwork.” She said employers and universities in the modern world are looking for creative thinkers and not just people who can memorize facts.

Holmes has been recognized for her achievements in the community, including winning a Cultural Diversity Award in 2005 for best innovative initiative in undertaking The Laramie Project, a play about the reaction to a 1998 murder of an American gay student.

Now that her children, two daughters aged 20 and 28, are grown up, Holmes plans to pick up where she left off in 1980 and start travelling again when she retires.

“I can hardly wait,” she says, smiling.

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read