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Drama Canadian

Unity (1918)

by (author) Kevin Kerr

Initial publish date
Mar 2013
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2002
    List Price

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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 the terror, the panic, the horror and the sense of helplessness of the Great War home with the returning soldiers—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 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 and 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 worldwide 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 offers audiences not only an epic chronicle of this forgotten chapter of Canadian history, but a chilling preview of the beginnings of our own new century.

The play is a gothic romance, filled with dark comedy and the desperate embrace of life at the edge of death.

About the author

Kevin Kerr
Kevin Kerr is a playwright, director, actor and founding member of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre.
In the 1999/2000 season, he was Writer in Residence at Touchstone Theatre where he developed Unity (1918) (Talonbooks, 2002), which earned him the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. He is the recipient of three Jessie Richardson Awards for Outstanding Original Play (Brilliant!, The Score and Unity) and his work has been produced across Canada, in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia.

Kevin Kerr's profile page


  • Winner, Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama
  • Winner, Jessie Richardson Award for Large Theatre: Significant Artistic Achievement Nomin
  • Winner, Jessie Richardson Award for Sydney Risk Award (Arts Club Theatre)

Editorial Reviews

“Unity (1918) is written with an assuredness that easily mixes profundity with hearty laughs … Kerr shows a gift for creating genuinely ordinary people who can expand on great thoughts even as they trip over their own flaws.”
—Vancouver Sun

“Kerr’s splendid new creation [ Unity (1918) ] is a work of powerful and moving familiarity, a kind of secular liturgy that celebrates love, sex, death and the sorrowful mysteries of war and plague. It’s also painfully funny.”
—Globe & Mail

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