History Comes to Life at the Grand Theatre with the Ontario Premiere of Andrea Scott’s Controlled Damage
Written by Andrea Scott
Directed by Ray Hogg
On the Spriet Stage
January 17 to January 29, 2023
January 10, 2023 – London ON – The inspirational, true story of Canadian Civil Rights hero, Viola Desmond comes to life on the Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage at the Ontario premiere of Controlled Damage – by London playwright Andrea Scott. The acclaimed production, playing January 17th through January 29th, is directed by Ray Hogg and stars Beck Lloyd as Viola Desmond.
“We begin the New Year with a truly London Proud production: Andrea Scott’s historical biodrama Controlled Damage,” exclaims Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director. “Raised in London, Ontario, an H. B. Beal graduate, Andrea has created a play that is so much more than a simple history lesson. Yes, this is a story from our past, but it is also a resounding call to everyone to learn from the wrongs of yesterday, and work towards a future of true universal respect and inclusion.”
Controlled Damage tells the story of Black, Halifax business owner, Viola Desmond who, on November 8, 1946, went to a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Unaware that she was sold a lower-priced ticket for the balcony, where Black patrons were expected to sit, Viola took a seat on the main floor: the whites-only section. Although she offered to pay the one cent tax difference, Viola was dragged from the theatre, jailed, and charged. The event would impact history forever.
Award-winning playwright Andrea Scott (Better Angels: A Parable (2015), Don't Talk to Me Like I'm Your Wife (2016), Eating Pomegranates Naked (2018), Every Day She Rose (2019)) penned Controlled Damage in 2015 with the original intention of writing a short play for children. But, she quickly realized the potential behind the story of Viola Desmond. Scott recalls being immediately drawn to the Canadian icon, saying: “She was tiny, persistent, Black, and stubborn – her focus and drive arrested me. But, I think what inspired me most is that Viola is all of us. She is an ordinary person who became extraordinary by one single, brave act. My hope is that this play can inspire people today to also take courage, refuse the status quo, and ultimately make those hard choices. Because, who knows? You too may be changing the course of history forever.”
Making her Grand Theatre debut as the leading role of Viola Desmond in Controlled Damage is Toronto-based actor, theatre creator, and educator Beck Lloyd. Joining her are a cast of 11 celebrated Canadian talent, 8 of whom will also make their Grand Theatre debut. Returning cast members include: Wade Bogert-O'Brien (Chariots of Fire (2018)), Starr Domingue (Room (2022), Oil and Water (2014)), and Stewart Adam McKensy (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2011)).
Notable Canadian director, choreographer, and educator, Ray Hogg brings his diverse talent to the Grand’s stage for the first time as director of Controlled Damage. Utilizing a modern set, state-of-the-art projections, and dynamic choreography, Hogg hopes that London’s audiences will become truly immersed in the production, expressing: “My hope is that what we have done with our cast, crew, and team of designers will surprise audiences in an exciting way, and help them literally and figuratively see themselves in Controlled Damage.”
Controlled Damage opened at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre in February 2020 to a sold-out run and great critical reception. The Globe and Mail hailed it “…a tougher ticket to get than Hamilton.” It was then scheduled to have its Ontario premiere during the Grand’s 2021/22 season, but was postponed to January 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
“When COVID-19 struck our theatre, we were forced to make many difficult decisions,” recalls Grand Theatre Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum. “But, bringing Controlled Damage back was not one of them. This play so beautifully and poignantly presents the life of one of Canada’s most influential women, with a powerful message for today. It will all be worth the wait, and I am confident that this production will soon take a lasting place in the hearts and minds of our audiences.”
Controlled Damage is on the Spriet Stage from January 17 to January 29, 2023. Tickets begin at $35 and are available at www.grandtheatre.com, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street.
The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges the continued support of the 2022/23 returning Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group and Controlled Damage Title Sponsor, Selectpath.
To learn more about Controlled Damage, please visit: grandtheatre.com/event/controlled-damage. Additional facts, photos, and updates can also be found by following @thegrandlondon and #ControlledDamage on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Grand Theatre wishes to acknowledge and honour the original stewards of the land on which our Theatre stands. Gratitude and recognition are extended to the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapewak peoples for preserving this land where we gather and create art.
About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.
In the heart of downtown London, Ontario lies one of Canada’s oldest regional theatres and a leading cultural hub of today: the Grand Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Evan Klassen, the Grand proudly presents diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe – and around the corner – on its two stages. The not-for-profit theatre is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. Further, it is an ardent supporter of educational programming, as demonstrated through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees. For more information, visit: grandtheatre.com.
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For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
ccore [at] grandtheatre.com
519-672-9030 ext. 266
When: Tuesday, January 17th at 1:00 p.m. (Cameras, please arrive at 12:30 p.m. to set up)
Where: Spriet Stage, Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond Street, London, Ontario
What: Controlled Damage photo, video, and interview opportunities for media
THE CAST (In alphabetical order)
Wade Bogert-O'Brien - Man 3
Krystle Chance - Woman 1
Starr Domingue - Woman 2
Cameron Grant - Man 1
Kaylee Harwood - Woman 4
David Keeley - Man 4
Dominique LeBlanc - Fiddler
Beck Lloyd - Viola Desmond
Monique Lund - Woman 5
Gracie Mack - Woman 3
Stewart Adam McKensy - Jack
Danté Prince - Man 2
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Ray Hogg - Director & Movement Director
Kaylee Harwood - Assistant Director
Lennette Randall - Assistant Director
Alexandra Kane - Music Director/Composer
Brian Dudkiewicz - Set Designer
Ming Wong - Costume Designer
Patricia Reilly – Assistant Costume Designer
Jareth Li - Lighting Designer
Richard Feren - Sound Designer
George Allister - VideoCompany
Patrick Boivin - VideoCompany
Siobhan Richardson - Fight/Intimacy Director
Gracie Mack – Movement Captain
Shakeil Rollock - Movement Intern
Suzanne McArthur - Stage Manager
Melissa Cameron - Assistant Stage Manager
Kelsey Cain - Apprentice Stage Manager