Doug Rutherford

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Fracture zone


Acts: 2
2M, 1 F
How do you survive survival? A major earthquake hits the west coast of British Columbia, resulting in widespread destruction. Three of the survivors interact in a mess tent in a refugee camp east of what is left of Vancouver.

One point of Fracture Zone is that we can’t appreciate the scope of disaster. If you know someone who was involved, you find it easier to mentally frame a disaster; however, this ability is not present when you do not know, or know of, the victims.

Consider the comparison between two aircraft accidents in Russia in 2011. In June, a TU-134 with a compliment of 52 passengers and crew crashed outside Petrozavodsk. There were 47 fatalities. This received minimal news coverage, despite the fact that the weather, and major crew errors, including the navigator being intoxicated, were the cause of the crash.  Truthfully, air disasters in many countries, such as Russia, receive little emphasis in the media.

Contrast this with the crash less than three months later of a Yak-42 aircraft near Yaroslavl. Of the 45 passengers and crew, there was only a single survivor. However, there was extensive coverage of the event because the passengers largely comprised the Lokomitv Yaroslavl KHL hockey team. A large number of the team members were former NHL players and there was coverage of the crash, memorial service and speculation on what would happen in the case of an accident involving an NHL team.

Why would there be more public discussion of the plane crash with fewer casualties?  What makes one any more or less of a tragedy? Why should one be reported as a question of numbers and the other be considered in terms of the people involved? Yet, in the case of coverage of disaster, this is usually the case.



Hugh Ferguson: Hugh is a seismologist in his late forties. He lives and breathes science and has little tolerance for anything else. He has been a life-long bachelor.

Salome Pierce: Salome is in her mid- to late thirties. She is a Baptist lay preacher. She does, however, demonstrate a substantially more tolerant attitude than many with her beliefs. Salome is unmarried.

Robert Jones: Robert is in his early thirties and is mostly characterized by his anger. Robert trusts nothing institutional or educational. Robert works in a warehouse and is divorced.

Voice of the Ministry: Ministry official who contacts Hugh by letter. Can be male or female.


This play is set in a mess tent and at an emergency preparedness briefing. The main part of the set gives the appearance of a large army tent with a long tables running from stage left to right in the center and a another table stage left with a large coffee urn. Institutional plastic chairs are on the upstage side of the table. There’s a large stack of disposable cups next to the coffee urn. Lighting comes from suspended overhead lights. Generally, there is an air of meagerness. Nothing is personalized. All has an institutional setting.

Upstage right is a podium. This should be on a carpet to separate it from the remainder of the set. Lighting should also separate the two locations.

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