Written by:

Mary Burns

Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 20
  • People with Disabilities: 13
  • Women: 14






90 min.

Year Written:



Imperfect is an imaginative exploration of institutionalization, inspired by one of the old schools for the developmentally disabled. People bring their children to the ‘I’ seeking help, but only the kids know what it’s like to live there and many of them can’t speak. This play reveals what can happen to parents, residents, and staff caught in an institutional web when those considered imperfect are hidden away. Can we promise it won’t happen again?” (From the CPO Website)


Dorothy Telford, mother of a big family. Upbeat despite all her responsibilities. An organizer. 30-50

Edna Penner, A countrywoman, slightly horsey. Strong. A fighter for her son. 30-50

Stephen Penner, A man who turned to booze to cope with the extra demands Gordy places on the family. 30-50

Bruno, Under his father’s thumb, a farmer, but wants to help his sister. 20-30

Sarah, Young, abandoned by husband. Loves her daughter but needs a lot of help. 30

Other, Stephen’s other side / Papa / Lawyer / Teenaged boy and girl in last scene. / Admittance Supervisor / Superintendent / Institutional Old Nurse, long knowledge of the place / Vera / Institutional Young Nurse, learning, trying / Melissa / Institutional “heavy” who is sometimes an Aide / sometimes a Security Guard / finally a Groundskeeper / Andy / Institutional Teacher / Sam / Institutional Aide, just doing his job, sometimes well, sometimes less than caring / Ed / A non-speaking attendant who appears in two scenes.


Madelyn, 10-35 She has some intellectual disability, but was institutionalized because, after her mother died, her father couldn’t handle her epilepsy. Through the play her speech gradually deteriorates due to the cumulative brain damage caused by repeated seizures.

Brian, 12-38 Moderate intellectual disability. A good-natured, immature guy; likes the ladies.

Sidney, 8-30 Borderline intellectual ability. Athletic, lonely, but remains hopeful. Gets out and lives independently.

Percy, 14-40 A hard to handle kid, abandoned at the I. Has a BIG attitude.

Donny, 6-36 His way of relating to the world is through touch and music.

Helen, 12-38, Likes even numbers. Easily influenced. Fearful. Sweet natured.

Gordy 12-22 Aggressive, angry. Never makes eye contact. Can’t really speak.

Raymond, 8-18 Deaf, and makes some sounds like a deaf person who has never heard speech. Improperly diagnosed. Thought to have low iq. Head banging stimulates him when he’s young, but as he grows up he does less of it. Overloads easily. Dies in the I.

Eleanor 10-20, Born with hydrocephaly. Self-effacing, stoic. Likes her TV shows. Dies in the I.

Marty, 6-35 Fears losing himself if left unrestrained.

Betty- Walks with a pronounced limp, as if one leg is shorter. Has strong sense of inner logic. Shy but determined. Dies in the I.

Stacey 8-10, Communicates with her mother through facial expressions, body language.

Oscar, whose world is defined by the circles he walks. Dies in the I.

First Produced:

Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre, Douglas College, BC, 2009


Imperfect is available through the CPO Website.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.


Performed at Douglas College, University of Windsor (Ontario), and Dalhousie University.

Roles can be doubled.