MICHAEL SHAMATA / PHOTO BY JO-ANN RICHARDS, WORKS PHOTOGRAPHY
The Unplugging is a beautiful play. I fell in love with the two principal characters and the journey of their relationship.
It is also a very smart play—and a wonderful exploration of a number of issues. The idea of a world without electricity—rendering technology inaccessible—seems both impossible to imagine and an eventual reality. Playwright Yvette Nolan imagines such a crisis, just as many of us are wondering what ecological disaster might be lurking around the corner.
The play premiered in 2012 and has become extremely prescient in today’s world. When Yvette wrote The Unplugging, she was warning us of the dangers of climate change. In 2023, the world is constantly grappling with climate disasters and, as if in response to the play’s suggestion, is turning to Indigenous communities for guidance. Governments are joining forces with First Nations, relying on their stewardship to conserve our forests and lakes, and save endangered species, from whooping cranes to killer whales. As if reflecting the story of Bern and Elena in the play, the very people we marginalized, we now turn to for our salvation.
Which raises another moral issue: how often and how easily society undervalues age and the wisdom of experience. The Unplugging is a great argument for reversing that unfortunate trend—!
Yvette Nolan views the world through an Indigenous lens, allowing us to look at the world we live in from a different perspective. She generously encourages us to open ourselves to the wisdom that has been passed down through generations. The playwright applies the same generosity to the very human characters she has created—with whom we engage and about whom we care. New perspectives and human stories—these are the ingredients of great theatre—and these are what I look for when I choose a play for this theatre. Michael Shamata