Unity (1918) Comes to Westwood!
By Kevin Kerr
Governor General’s Literary Award winner
A gothic romance, filled with dark comedy
Show Dates: Thursday-Saturday, November 23-25 tickets $12
Preview show -Wednesday, November 22 Tickets $5
All show times 8:00pm
ALthough playwright Kevin Kerr has kindly accomodated us in adapting the play for high school- there is still overarching mature themes and some language from one select character -Rated PG 13.
ABOUT UNITY 1918:
In the fall of 1918, a world ravaged by four years of war was suddenly hit by a mysterious and deadly plague—the “Spanish” flu. The illness struck not only the young and the elderly, but also people in the prime of their lives; advancing rapidly toward mortality in its victims. This phenomenon in effect brought terror, panic,horror and a sense of helplessness for the soldiers returnign home from the Great War—more people died of this epidemic than had been killed in battle throughout the armed conflict.
As fear of the dreaded flu begins to fill the town of Unity, Saskatchewan with paranoia, drastic measures are taken. The town is quarantined in an attempt to keep the illness out. Trains are forbidden to stop, no one can enter, and the borders are sealed. Mail from overseas, feared to be carrying the deadly virus, is gathered then burned. But when the disease descends upon the town despite their precautions, the citizens begin to turn on each other as they attempt to find a scapegoat for the crisis.
Very little has been written about this world-wide calamity which, more than the war itself, destroyed forever the genteel and naive presumptions of European colonial society at the beginning of the twentieth century; Kevin Kerr shares this epic chronicle of the forgotten chapter of Canadian history, and chilling preview of the beginnings of our own new century.
The most famous and lethal outbreak [of influenza] was the so-called Spanish flu pandemic (type A influenza, H1N1 subtype), which lasted from 1918 to 1919. Current estimates claim 50 million to 100 million people worldwide were killed. This pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have killed as many people as the Black Death. This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms. Indeed, symptoms in 1918 were so unusual that initially influenza was misdiagnosed as dengue, cholera, or typhoid.
The Spanish flu pandemic was global, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. The unusually severe disease killed between 2 and 20% of those infected, as opposed to the more usual flu epidemic mortality rate of 0.1%. Another unusual feature of this pandemic was that it mostly killed young adults,with 99% of pandemic influenza deaths occurring in people under 65, and more than half in young adults 20 to 40 years old. This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70). It is estimated that 2.5% to 5% of the world's population was killed.
Characters of Unity
Beatrice (Bea) a farmer’s daughter
Sissy-Bea’s younger sister a doomsday Prophet
Mary, a debutante, Bea’s best friend
Rose, a telephone operator Kaylee
Doris, a telephone operator
Sunna, a mortician and outcast
Stan, an incompetant farmer and widower
Hart, a blinded war hero
Michael, a farm hand
Glen, a returning war veteran
Ensemble of actors