Dead Man Brake


August 2013
Merrigong Theatre, Wollongong



A powerful, compassionate examination of tragedy and human resilience.
In January 2003, a State Rail train travelling from Sydney to Port Kembla derailed just south of Waterfall station. Seven people were killed and dozens injured in what became known as the Waterfall train disaster. A Special Commission of Inquiry concluded that the accident could have been avoided if earlier safety warnings regarding the `deadman’s emergency brake’ had not been ignored.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of this tragic event, Merrigong is honoured to commission and produce this new work from critically-acclaimed playwright Alana Valentine. Using verbatim sources including the Inquiry transcript, as well as original text, the play explores the impact of this tragedy, not only on the individuals involved, but on the community as a whole.

At the heart of the work is an acknowledgment of those who, after tragedies such as Waterfall, are brought in to counsel survivors and the families of victims. Through the words of these extraordinary individuals, the work explores profound questions about the nature of tragedy, offering a compassionate insight into the human condition.

Dead Man Brake is ultimately an uplifting and powerful examination of human resilience in the face of tragedy.

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