Controlled Damage

Written by:

Andrea Scott

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:


Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 8
  • People of Colour: 6
  • Women: 8


Black Theatre


African Canadian History
Black History
Canadian History
Civil Rights
Social Justice
Women's History


60 min.

Year Written:



“Controlled Damage explores the life of Canadian civil rights icon Viola Desmond and how her act of bravery in a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946 started a ripple effect that is still felt today. An ordinary woman forced to be extraordinary by an unyielding and racist world, Desmond never gave up — despite the personal cost to her and those who loved her. Andrea Scott’s highly theatrical examination of Desmond and her legacy traces the impact she has had on our culture, but also casts light on the slow progress of the fight for social justice and civil rights in Canada.” (From Scirocco Drama)


Viola Desmond – 32, petite, fair-skinned black woman.

Jack Desmond – 42, quiet, pious, black.

Reverend William Pearly Oliver – 30, Reverend of the Cornwallis Baptist Street Church, black.

Pearleene Oliver – 30, wife of Reverend Oliver, black.

Rose – 30’s, Viola’s friend, black.

Miss Sandie – 30’s, customer of the salon, white.

Lucille – late 30’s, patron at the Roseland theatre, white.

Paul – 30’s labourer, white / Kathy – 20’s, Paul’s wife, white.

Henry MacNeil – 40’s, owner of the Roseland Theatre, white.

Ma MacNeil – 60’s, Henry MacNeil’s mother, white.

Laura – early 20’s, student in Viola’s class, black.

Musician who plays fiddle and some percussion.

Multiple characters played by the ensemble: Three Wise Men, Airplane Passengers, Flight Attendant, Contemporary Experts, Students, Radio Announcer, and Magistrate Roderick Mackay.

First Produced:

February 2020, Neptune Theatre, Halifax, NS


Controlled Damage is available through Scirocco Drama.

Controlled Damage can also be found at the Canadian Play Outlet.


This play can be staged with a cast of eight doubling-up on roles.

The musician is wishful thinking if the money exists for it. Otherwise the music can be canned.

Since the play takes place in Halifax, it would add authenticity to have a fiddler, but it is not necessary.

An overview of Viola Desmond can be found on The Canadian Encyclopedia here.

Visit the playwright’s website here.