Play by Play

Armbrae Academy and Neptune Theatre are piloting a program encouraging students to experience the theatre by giving them a "job". Armbrae students will be attending 4 different plays this season and each time they will be assigned to do a written review from a teen's perspective.

We know teens are the connoisseurs of what's hot and what's not, so why not take them away from their screens and into the theatre.

Armbrae Drama teacher, Jessica Barry brought the idea to Neptune and they were excited at the prospect. Bringing in younger theatre-goers is a great way to develop lifelong patrons. Project Armbrae Play by Play was born.

This is a win-win program for all, students get to see some of the best theatre in Atlantic Canada and Neptune gets to win over some promising patrons.

Armbrae Play by Play students recently attended the play "Controlled Damage". Here are the reviews from Sam, Emeline and Kecia.

I found the cast of Controlled Damage was able take a very important and meaningful story and make it into an entertaining and engaging play. The vocals of the gospel singers were amazing. They added such a deepness to the play and it was obvious the effect it had on the other actors. The way actors were able to switch between characters, was very well done. Especially having one set with different projections they were able to quickly change the mood based on where they were. Lighting helped significantly, giving focus to certain characters, acknowledging more importance and changing the perspectives on the scene. I feel like the story told was one not known by many Nova Scotians. Which is surprising given it happened so locally. The issues that the play is based on are still relevant today, but still do not have very much light in our current society. Having something like a play to bring this history to people's attention is a step in the right direction. Overall the play was very good, and I think the effect it has on people is even better. This could be thought of as a dive into history, a lesson, but it is really so much more than that. What happened in the movie theatre obviously affected Viola and people close to her, but it was an act that branched out into the whole African-Nova Scotian community. It takes some time to grasp the concepts of the play, but as things start to piece together, it brings you into the life of Viola Desmond. Very well done. ~ Sam

The historical non-fiction play 'Controlled Damage', written by Andrea Scott gives us insight into the life of Viola Desmond and her struggle as she tried to challenge racial segregation and stand up for civil rights for the black people of Nova Scotia. 'Controlled Damage' follows Viola Desmond (played by Deborah Castrilli) through her life, from her time as a school teacher to when she opened up her own beauty shop. The play highlights the good and the bad aspects of Viola Desmond's life and while it has a serious tone, there is a little comedy worked into the play. I really liked how the lighting of the play was dim and hazy, as it gave it an older feel that helped show that it was set in the mid 1900's. What largely didn't work for me, however, was the minimal set pieces in the play. I found that there several times throughout the play when I didn't know where the scene was taking place. I also found that it was sometimes hard to follow the characters. Because some of the cast played more than one character, I wasn't entirely sure which character was being portrayed at times. I thought the use of the white masks was clever in how they represented the white dominance of the time and showed that white people and people of colour had to sit separately in the theatre. Some of the costumes in the play, like Viola's, accurately depicted the time era that the play was set in, while others, unfortunately, looked a little odd and didn't fit in - like the outfit the principal was wearing. Overall, I enjoyed the play very much and learned a lot about Viola Desmond and the struggles she faced in her life trying to correct social injustices. While there could be some improvements to the set and costumes, I thought the story was accurate and it was a well-done play. ~ Emeline

Controlled Damage, The sorted life story of Viola Desmond. A very important story about a mixed-race woman standing up for herself. From when Viola started as a teacher, to when she got married and started her beauty school, her most famous chapter of Viola's life and her death. Controlled Damage taught me a lot of new interesting facts about Viola Desmond that I had no idea about like she was sexually harassed by her boss when she was working and that she was a beautician. I really liked the way the music was incorporated in the play. I liked how the actors used their voices to set the mood of the play. At the beginning of the play the lights were red and the actors were making a soft noise that got louder and louder. It kind of scared me but it was really cool how lights and singing can change the vibe very fast. I could listen to them sing all day. I did think there were some moments of this show that were a bit awkward especially when Viola and Jack kissed and everything went silent. I think the set was fantastic. I really liked the way Nick Bottomley used projections to identify the different scenes. I also like how they used the same set pieces for different scenes. I did not think the costumes were effective considering Viola was in a very fancy period costume and all the actors' costumes looked like they were in their casual clothes except for Viola and the Pastor. I thought the overall Controlled Damage was a creative way of displaying Viola Desmond's life. But it could have been made a bit more interesting. Controlled Damage was made for ages 12 and older but as a 15-year old, I was a little bit disengaged at some moments. ~Kecia