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The Playwriting Competition Cabaret!

November 2011
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I’ve been a little remiss posting in the last week but I’ve been rather busy. Last night was the cabaret for the Nakai Theatre 24 Hour Playwriting Competition, where you present a short excerpt from your submission from the competition. I think 17 people entered the competition and most presented part of their work.

It is amazing the level of what is presently in theatrical progress at the moment. There are quite a few projects that I’m looking forward to see, some probably as soon as May 8th-13th with the Homegrown Festival coming up. I’m workshopping part of my play at the festival, so keep your calendars open.

After the presentation came the naming of the winners. Anthony Trombetta won the category for best new play, with his project Undying, a stoner Zombie romance. The winner of best in the play previously in progress, the Next Time Around Competition, was me!

Thanks to Heather Grant for reading the second part in my play, with no time for rehearsal. It did come off well anyway.

A friend asked when she could see an excerpt. Here’s the part we read last night. It comes from the second scene in the first act. It takes place in a mess tent in a refugee camp, five days after a major earthquake happens on the west coast. The standard warnings that it is a draft and is protected by copyright.

Fracture Zone
© Douglas Rutherford, 2011.

[Hugh starts writing in his notebook. Enter Salome, upstage right.].

SALOME

Hi. Is there coffee?

HUGH

[yawns] Oh, excuse me. Yes. There is coffee but it’s pretty old, though.

SALOME

[pours a coffee and comes to sit next to  Hugh]  I see you in here all the time. I come here often.

HUGH

I do, too. Since I don’t sleep much, I spend a lot of time here. It’s quiet. Easier to think.

SALOME

There’s so much despair and so much destruction outside. Here, there’s none of that. We’re surrounded by so much pain but it doesn’t seem to make it in here when you’re alone. It’s like being on the only solid ground surrounded by a raging ocean.

[pause] You’re always writing.

HUGH

Yes. I want to keep a record of… what happened.

SALOME

I wouldn’t worry. Someone official will do it. That way, the record will be, you know, official. That way, it will make everyone who has to look good.

HUGH

I’m hoping mine is more technical than political.

SALOME

My name is Salome.

HUGH

Hugh, Hugh Ferguson.

SALOME

Small talk. I don’t think anyone here has made much of that since it happened. I miss that sort of thing.

HUGH

Me, too. Of course, it’s not like anyone’s going to ask, “What brings you here?” Salome… a bit biblical?

SALOME

In my family, you wouldn’t expect anything else. It means “peace” in Hebrew. My father was Ezekiel, mother, Ruth, sister Leah… although Jezebel would probably be a bit more appropriate for her as it turned out. My dad was a Baptist minister and a name that wasn’t in the Bible wasn’t fit for a God-fearing child.

HUGH

You seem to have gotten over it.

SALOME

[looks at Hugh] What?

HUGH

[flustered] I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just that you don’t seem to be the “fire and brimstone” fundamentalist type.

SALOME

[laughs] I’m not, really, am I? And, that’s a bit of a disadvantage in my line of work.

HUGH

Oh, what do you do?

SALOME

I’m a Baptist minister. Actually, my parishioners would probably prefer a bit more of the “fire and brimstone” fundamentalist type. I’m not much with the brimstone, but I’ve probably got the “fire” part down more than they’d prefer. [smiles] Let me guess. You’re not religious?

HUGH

[emphatically] No. [less emphasis] Ph.D. Earth Sciences, Memorial University.  Somehow, it doesn’t lend too well to the religious paradigm. [pause] I haven’t understood why people put so much faith in religions since I was 10 years old.

SALOME

Actually, you just answered your own question there.

HUGH

What?

SALOME

“Faith” is why people put faith in religion. [Hugh starts backing into his chair. Salome laughs] Don’t worry. I’ll try not to convert you. But, I’ll have to ask you not to explain things rationally in return.

HUGH

[a little less on edge] Agreed.

SALOME

Earth Sciences? Geology, right?

HUGH

Yes.

SALOME

Do you know anything about earthquakes?

HUGH

That’s what I do. I work for the government as a seismologist.

SALOME

I wouldn’t say that out loud to many people here. People are confused and upset over what happened. A government geologist would be a great target if you need to let off some steam.

HUGH

[pensively] I’d never thought of that…

SALOME

Well, we’re the only ones here.

HUGH

It’s 3 AM. I’m not surprised.

SALOME

Don’t let the clock fool you. I think I’d worry about anyone who could keep normal hours after the quake. [pause] Hugh, how bad do you think it was?

HUGH

For sure? I don’t know, but I could make some guesses. The shaking lasted pretty long… maybe two or so minutes. I’m not sure. It’s not like I was timing it when my truck was bouncing along the road and rolling in the ditch. [Salome smiles] It was probably a big one and pretty shallow.

SALOME

[Salome looks at him quizzically] What does that mean?

HUGH

It means even more damage. I guess most of Vancouver and Victoria are gone, and all the coastal or low-lying areas were hit with a tsunami pretty hard… judging by the damage I was able to see. If the entire plate front let go, and I think it did, it’s probably the same in Washington State and Oregon too.

SALOME

So much damage. So much loss….

HUGH

I tried to get downtown a bit, see how bad it was, but couldn’t. It was impossible to move through what was left. I didn’t get too far west but there really didn’t seem anything intact to see. The army picked me up and brought me here. I didn’t see any survivors.

SALOME

How many are dead, do you think?

HUGH

I don’t know. One, two million? More? The tsunami probably did damage across the Pacific, too.

How many people lived in Vancouver, but there’s only, what, 200 survivors in this camp?

SALOME

Victoria, too?

HUGH

Look at it this way… Esquimalt navy base was the closest base to here, but you’ll notice that the army is here running this camp. My guess is there’s nothing left of Esquimalt.

SALOME

It’s the will of… sorry, there goes our agreement.

HUGH

I guess that’s only fair. I was being rational.

 

 

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