Viola Desmond cabaret makes Atlantic Canadian debut
August 2, 2022 – (Charlottetown, PE) – A show based on the life about one of Canada’s most inspiring women plays at The Charlottetown Festival this month. After performances in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Québec, Hey Viola! is making its debut in Atlantic Canada.
Starting at The Mack on August 3, Hey Viola! is a cabaret about Viola Desmond, a Black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at a cinema in 1946.
Vancouver songstress and performer Krystle Dos Santos – with the support of musicians Steve Charles, Mary Ancheta, and Chris Davis – brings the life of Viola Desmond to the stage. The cabaret is inspired by the dynamic and inspirational music that filled the life and home of this trailblazer of the civil rights movement. With brilliant hits of the era, like “Dream a Little Dream”, “Smile”, “A Change is Gonna Come”, and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, the show gives audiences an opportunity to discover how the actions of one woman played a huge role in a movement that continues today.
Hey Viola! was co-created by Dos Santos and Tracey Power, who also directs the show. “We felt so passionate about sharing Viola’s story with Canadians that it fueled us to create this show,” says Power. “She’s an inspiration on many levels.”
In November 1946, Desmond went to a film at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, NS. Unaware that the cinema was segregated, she chose a main‐floor seat. When she refused to move to the balcony, where Black patrons were expected to sit, she was arrested and dragged out of the theatre. Desmond refused to accept the charges against her, and her case went to Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court.
By refusing to change seats and by fighting her conviction in court, Viola Desmond directly challenged segregation in Canada. Her stand against injustice galvanized Nova Scotia’s Black community and helped inspire Canada’s civil rights movement. In 2018, she became the first Canadian woman featured on a regularly circulating Canadian $10 bill.
“Viola was such an incredibly driven, intelligent, and strong woman whose story is still relevant today,” says Dos Santos. “I have seen how audiences really open up to her experience and feel a connection to her as a person through this production.”
Hey Viola! previews on Wednesday, August 3 before opening on Thursday, August 4. Performances run through Saturday, August 13. For tickets and performance dates, visit confederationcentre.com.
Photo: Krystle Dos Santos as Viola Desmond in Hey Viola! Photo by Murray Mitchell.