Play inspired by Viola Desmond makes its world debut at Neptune

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The world premiere of Controlled Damage, written by Canadian playwright Andrea Scott, in association with Toronto’s b current performing arts, runs Feb.4-23 at Neptune Theatre.

The play explores the life of Viola Desmond and how her act of bravery started a ripple effect throughout society. The play shines a light on how her actions impacted different cultural groups in the province and the continuing effect of those actions over the past 70 years.

“It is essential, that while we celebrate the wonderful aspects of our history that we also voice and recognize the contradictions within it,” said the show’s director Nigel Shawn Williams. “We cannot look away from the horrors of Canadian history, the mistreatment of First Nations and other ethnic groups, and the fact that Canada was, and still is in many ways, a country steeped in and practices ideals based on colonial patriarchy.”

“We tell these stories to remind ourselves of our past wrongs in order to learn from them and become better. Better citizens. Better humans. Better neighbours,” he added.

The cast includes a compelling mix of local and national artists who will bring this remarkable piece of history to the Neptune stage.

Veteran musician, actor and Cherry Brook’s own Jeremiah Sparks (The Color PurpleOil and Water, Hosanna, Gospel at Colonus, Divinity Bash) makes his return to the Neptune stage; local actors Mary Fay Coady (Old Stock: A Refugee Love StoryMiss Caledonia); Nathan Simmons (Shakespeare in Love and Salt Water Moon); Cyndi Cain (Gospel at Colonus); Lesley Smith (The Last Wife, Intimate Apparel); Sarah Richardson (Peter Pan, Frozen Jr., The Color Purple, Diva Station, Shakespeare in Love); Toronto-based actor Ryan Allen (The Color Purple, Oil and Water); and Meghan Swaby and Taylor Olsen making their Neptune debuts.

The lead role of Viola Desmond will be played by Halifax actor Deborah Castrilli (Mamma Mia!, The Color Purple, Cinderella).

“Although time has passed, things have not changed as drastically as we think; women of colour still face struggles due to prejudice and discrimination day in and day out,” said Castrilli. “It is an honour and a privilege to know that I will get to embody such a fierce Canadian icon – one who became known simply for living her truth. I strive to do that every day. I hope this story continues to inspire others to do the same,” she added.

Controlled Damage runs from February 4-23, 2020 on the Scotiabank Stage. The show’s three-week run begins with the Bell Aliant Pay What You Can performance, on Tuesday, February 4, with two additional preview shows: one on Wednesday, February 5 and another on Thursday, February 6; the show opens on Friday, February 7.

About b current performing arts

For 28 years, b current has fostered work by and about the Black and Brown Diaspora from the page to the stage. Through in-depth decolonized theatre training, ground-breaking productions and anti-oppression training for arts organizations, b current honours diasporic storytelling in all its forms while creating a world in which those stories are celebrated with respect.