2010 Haiti Earthquake
The events of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake have been adapted below into a structure suitable for an Ensemble Performance in Drama class. Although the earthquake itself lasted just 55 seconds, the circumstances arising out of one of the worst natural disasters in history embody a timeline appropriate for student research over a number of lessons and multiple scene creation.
This particular structure has a brief outline of each scene provided for students. There is still plenty of opportunity for robust research and individual interpretation, allowing multiple groups within a single Drama class to undertake the same task, yet produce different performances. As a guide, this task is suitable for a senior high school Drama class and could take students several weeks to produce a product lasting thirty to forty minutes. It could either be improvised, scripted, or a combination of both. Dramatic elements, performance style and conventions are added to enhance the drama.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake occurred on January 12, with a devastating 7.0 magnitude. The epicentre struck near Léogâne, approximately 25 kilometres west of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. The quake resulted in severe damage to infrastructure, including essential structures such as hospitals, government buildings, and schools. This was exacerbated by more than 50 aftershocks, further destabilizing the already weakened structures and increasing the devastation.
The human toll of the earthquake was immense, with estimates suggesting that between 230,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives, while more than 1.5 million people were displaced. Before the earthquake struck, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The international community swiftly responded with humanitarian aid including rescue teams, medical assistance, food, water, and temporary shelters. However, the scale of the disaster made relief and recovery efforts incredibly challenging.
In the months and years following the earthquake, the people of Haiti faced numerous hardships, including outbreaks of disease, food and water shortages, and the slow process of rebuilding. Yet amidst the immense loss and suffering, the resilience of the Haitian people shone through as they worked tirelessly to rebuild their lives and their country.
Scene 1: Prelude – Part 1 (January 11, 2010, Morning)
Setting: A typical home in Port-au-Prince. Action: Morning routine, family interactions, insights into daily struggles and joys of life in Haiti.
Scene 2: Prelude – Part 2 (January 11, 2010, Evening)
Setting: Bustling marketplace in Port-au-Prince. Action: Displays of vibrant local culture, commerce, and community interactions.
Scene 3: The Quake – Part 1 (January 12, 2010, 4:53 PM)
Setting: Port-au-Prince. Action: The earthquake strikes, people experience the initial shock, panic and confusion starts to spread.
Scene 4: The Quake – Part 2 (January 12, 2010, Seconds after the quake)
Setting: Different locations in Port-au-Prince. Action: Buildings collapse, streets crack open, dust fills the air, confusion and panic fill the city.
Scene 5: The Immediate Aftermath – Part 1 (January 12, 2010, Minutes Later)
Setting: Streets of Port-au-Prince. Action: Initial rescue efforts by citizens, people helping each other, cries for assistance.
Scene 6: The Immediate Aftermath – Part 2 (January 12, 2010, A few hours later)
Setting: Various points in the city Action: Continuation of rescue efforts, people searching for their loved ones, emotional reunions, scenes of loss and grief.
Scene 7: The Night of the Quake (January 12, 2010, Night)
Setting: Open spaces and streets in Port-au-Prince. Action: Survivors spending the night outside, fear of aftershocks, makeshift camps, prayers, and stories shared among the survivors.
Scene 8: Global Response (January 13, 2010)
Setting: United Nations headquarters, New York City, and various locations worldwide. Action: International reactions and pledges of support, plans for relief efforts being made.
Scene 9: Arrival of Help – Part 1 (January 14, 2010, Morning)
Setting: Port-au-Prince Airport. Action: The first international aid arrives, confusion and logistical challenges at the airport, scenes of hope and frustration.
Scene 10: Arrival of Help – Part 2 (January 14, 2010, Afternoon)
Setting: Streets of Port-au-Prince. Action: Distribution of aid, struggles of coordination, scenes of gratitude and desperation. International aid is hampered by no electricity, a lack of communication lines, and debris blocking main roads.
Scene 11: Trapped Alive (January 15, 2010)
Setting: Collapsed University building. Action: Intense rescue operation, a survivor is found and extricated, a moment of triumph amidst tragedy.
Scene 12: Aftershock (January 20, 2010)
Setting: The town of Petit Goâve, 55 km west of Port-au-Prince. Action: An aftershock registering 5.9 magnitude occurs, terrifying citizens and causing additional damage.
Scene 13: (January 25, 2010)
Setting: A hospital ward and the streets of Port-au-Prince Action: What remains of the hospitals in Haiti after the earthquake, are severely overcrowded. Meanwhile, people unable to get to hospital, die of their injuries on the streets.
Scene 14: The Struggle to Rebuild – Part 1 (Months later in 2010)
Setting: A temporary camp in Port-au-Prince. Action: Life in temporary camps, food and water shortages, ongoing relief efforts, and the spread of cholera brought in by infected United Nations peacekeepers.
Scene 15: The Struggle to Rebuild – Part 2 (Months later in 2010)
Setting: Port-au-Prince. Action: Slow progress in reconstruction and continued challenges. Some of the billions of dollars in international aid money is embezzled and misused by a corrupt Haitian government.
Scene 16: A Year Later (January 12, 2011)
Setting: Port-au-Prince. Action: The one-year commemoration event, mourning the lost lives.
Scene 17: Two Years Later (January 2012)
Setting: A reconstructed neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince. Action: Scenes of recovery and hope, a celebration of resilience and visions for a better future.
The prescribed performance style for this task is eclectic, sometimes referred to as eclecticism. Eclectic theatre refers to more than one performance style evident in the same performance. Most professional contemporary theatre is eclectic, displaying aspects of multiple performance styles in a single show.
For example, a narrator or storyteller may be present, which is a common convention of Epic Theatre. Another scene may be mostly movement-based (for example, the rumbling of the initial earthquake), with violent moves and a loud, piercing soundtrack. These are conventions of the Theatre of Cruelty. Or the group may decide to perform the play with the audience seated in and around the dramatic action, a convention of Poor Theatre. Groups could also explore aspects of Expressionism, Surrealism, Theatre of the Absurd, or even Physical Theatre.
Whatever the choice to make the performance eclectic, be aware that there are plenty of articles here on The Drama Teacher or its sister-site Theatre Links to support the research into these and other performance styles. Also, be aware that less is more. The attraction of incorporating aspects of multiple performance styles can actually muddy the waters and create a dog’s breakfast, for the want of a better phrase. It is best to select a small number of conventions from two or three styles, at most, and aim for quality over quantity.
The prescribed dramatic elements for this task are:
The prescribed conventions for this task are:
Additional conventions belonging to specific performance styles, as outlined above, may also be employed.