Controlled Damage

An image of Viola Desmond appears on an old, torn movie ticket. In the background is a blurred image of white men in a theatre.
Family programming Theatre Drama
  • In-person event

  • English
  • Ages 14

  • Approx. 2 hours  with intermission
Performance options Start time Language Availability
Tuesday, February 18, 2025 11:00 am English Seats available
Wednesday, February 19, 2025 11:00 am English Seats available

“It is so much more than a simple history lesson.”

Halifax Presents

Student Matinee & FREE Post-Show Workshops for Schools

in connection with Controlled Damage

An NAC English Theatre/Neptune Theatre Co-Production

On November 8, 1946, Viola Desmond entered the whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Unaware that the theatre was segregated, Viola took a seat on the main floor instead of the balcony where Black patrons were expected to sit. Although she offered to pay the one cent tax difference, Viola was dragged from the theatre, jailed, and charged with tax evasion.

Award-winning playwright Andrea Scott examines the life of this trailblazing Canadian civil rights figure and how her act of bravery in a small town cinema set off a powerful wave of change. A remarkable woman thrust reluctantly into greatness by an unyielding, prejudiced world, Viola never wavered — even when the personal toll weighed heavily on her and those who loved her.

Controlled Damage honours Viola’s tenacity as a Black woman entrepreneur as well as her inspirational role for future generations. This rich portrait of a formidable icon offers a poignant reminder of the continuing struggle for social justice in Canada.

FREE Post-Show Workshops in Schools!

The NAC and MASC are pleased to be partnering to provide FREE post-show workshops in schools in connection with the student matinee of Controlled Damage, presented by NAC English Theatre. 

High school students will have the opportunity to work with MASC artist Jacqui Du Toit, who will facilitate one 60 min post-show workshop for each participating class throughout the months of February and March. The workshop will explore the themes and ideas in the play through drama and storytelling, make connections to the curriculum to complement your students’ visit to the theatre!

Registration is simple:  

1. Click here to register your class for the student matinee of Controlled Damage at the NAC. 

2. Once you have registered, a member of the MASC team will contact you to coordinate your free post-show workshop with Jacqui Du Toit at your school.  

Please note that there are a limited number of free workshops available, that will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Bookings must be made before December 1st, 2024 to receive a workshop.

For any questions, contact Aimee Bouchard, Learning Coordinator for English Theatre at 

Content Advisory

As a reimagining of the life of an important civil rights icon in Canada, this play confronts difficult yet necessary truths about racism and discrimination that have been a part of our shared history. Due to the realities of this historical context, the play does not censor offensive, demeaning, and racist language, including the n-word and other racial slurs. Sexual content is also briefly discussed onstage.

  • By Andrea Scott
  • Directed by Cherissa Richards

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Learning and engagement at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. Arts Alive is generously supported by the Azrieli Foundation, the Government of Nunavut, Canadian North, Calm Air, The River Philip Foundation, The Turnbull Family Community Building Foundation, and The Thomas Sill Foundation. Thank you also to Grant and Alice Burton, Canada Life, A Donor-Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Friends of the NAC Orchestra, Donors to the NAC Foundation's Future Fund, The Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence, and the donors and sponsors of the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust, the primary resource for youth and education funding at the National Arts Centre.