News Release

REF NO.: 76

SUBJECT: Memorial University students produce play about First World War

DATE: November 19, 2014

Students in Dr. Jamie Skidmore’s Producing the Play course will perform and produce the Governor General award-winning play Unity (1918) from Nov. 27-29 at the Barbara Barrett Theatre in the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Unity (1918), by Canadian playwright Kevin Kerr, parallels the return of a Canadian soldier from the First World War with the struggles of a young prairie woman as she combats the outbreak of the Spanish flu in the town of Unity, Sask. A feminist story, Unity (1918) reveals that not all wars are fought by men and that many young women have also given their lives in combat for friends and families. The play also questions the idea of heroism, both in the trenches in Europe and on the farms of Unity.

The production is being supported by the Living Memorial Commemoration Fund, which was established by the university to provide assistance with the planning and delivery of First World War commemoration projects. Since the fund was launched in June of this year, 23 projects have been funded. More information is available at www.mun.ca/WW100.

“Unity (1918) is a scenically challenging play to direct, as the story moves quickly from locale to locale across this small prairie town,” said Dr. Skidmore, who is a professor in Memorial’s Department of English. “One moment you’re in the mortuary, the next you’re at the telegraph office, and then you find yourself on a dark, dusty road. Without access to the Reid Theatre, and therefore a place to build our set, the WW100 grant has given us the means to have our set realized through the shop at the Arts and Culture Centre.”

Arts alumna (BA ’91, MA ’06) Lisa Machin is in her final year of the performance and communications media diploma program and is both an actor in and an assistant director of the play.

“Having the opportunity to act and assistant direct the play has been a great experience for numerous reasons – but mostly because of the subject matter,” she said.

“Though the play is set in a real Saskatchewan prairie town, the story of the fictional characters battling the flu gives us a glimpse of some of the ways the First World War combined with the Spanish flu epidemic affected the day-to-day lives of people in Canada at that time, changing societal roles, customs and beliefs, economics, technology, health practices and education, just to name a few.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at artsandculturecentre.com/stjohns/online or by phone at 709-729-3900 or in person at the box office.

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