CBU Boardmore Theatre to Hold Lecture Series Inspired by Unity (1918)

The Cape Breton University Boardmore Theatre is set to begin its production of Unity (1918) starting on November 21. An added feature to this production is the lecture series Unity (1918) and the Spanish Flu: Understanding Public Health Through Science and the Arts that is being held on November 23 starting at 1 p.m.  Admission is free and attendees will receive a complimentary ticket to the production of Unity (1918).

“Todd Hiscock and I came up with the notion of exploring a major public health issue through both the arts and the sciences in a conversation we had about two years ago after talking about the Governor General award winning play by Kevin Kerr called Unity (1918) that we had both recently read. It deals with the Spanish flu coming to a small town in Saskatchewan, not unlike Sydney and neighbouring communities. We felt it would be interesting to tie in a series of talks dealing with influenza then and now, in the mixed contexts of history, music, society and science. We hope many people will come out to the talks, see the play and enjoy this unique undertaking that bridges a number of interesting outlooks from knowledgeable speakers all inspired by Unity (1918),” says Paul MacDougall, Event Co-organizer.

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. As fear of the dreaded flu begins to fill the town of Unity (Saskatchewan) with paranoia, drastic measures are taken. The lecture series will include five talks all inspired by the play.  This enhanced theatre experience will include the following presentations

Garbage, Sewage and Milk: Public Health in an Early Industrializing City presented by Vanessa Childs Rolls, Medical Historian. Childs Rolls’ talk will examine the struggles and issues in public health in Sydney and Cape Breton around the time of the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918.

Scotch Whiskey, Wine and Influenza presented by Paul MacDougall, Instructor in Health Studies and Environmental Science at Cape Breton University. MacDougall will present an overview of the Spanish influenza outbreak that struck Sydney and other local towns in October 1918 and measures taken to combat it.

Music of Ukrainian Immigrants to Canada: Ritual and Religious Resonances in Kevin Kerr's Unity (1918) presented Marcia Ostashewski, Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology joined by internationally-acclaimed bandurist, Julian Kytasty.

The A, B, Cs of Influenza presented by Bernie MacLennan, Instructor in Health Studies and Microbiology at Cape Breton University. MacLennan will focus on what the medical and scientific community know about the influenza virus today.

Why We Should Care About the Flu…or Not presented by Dr. Monika Dutt, Medical Officer of Health, Cape Breton District Health Authority. Dr. Dutt will talk about the impact the flu has (and could have) on communities as well as discuss the broader public health context of today.

Unity (1918) will be on stage until December 1. The CBU Boardmore Playhouse box office is open Monday through Friday 1-5 p.m. and one hour before each show. Admission is $12 for general, $8 for students and seniors, and $6 for CBU students.

For more information visit www.cbu.ca/boardmore.