“Voices From Chornobyl” is not a typical theatre production, and Chernobyl itself is not at the forefront of the mind of most of Los Angeles residents. Coming onto this project has been an interesting process and started well before my relationship with Cindy. Back when I was in graduate school at Portland State University I was browsing through Powell’s and saw Svetlana Alexievich’s book “Voices from Chernobyl”. The book itself was a series of interviews and stories about the survivors of the disaster, and I picked the book up on a whim. Although I had started my thesis on transportation infrastructure in the region, the Chernobyl disaster itself was unrelated to anything I was studying.
The accounts in “Voices From Chernobyl” are powerful. The book quickly became something I frequently recommended to people in the same breath as a book that changed my life, Kapuscinski’s “Imperium”. Fast-forward to the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival a year and a half later. I hadn’t expected to be in Los Angeles, let alone theater, but here I was. Cindy and I met via twitter and started talking about the show I was working on at the time. When she mentioned her adaptation of the book, I was excited and Cindy seemed excited that someone else had heard of the book. After fringe, Cindy asked me to help her with the production of her adaptation “Voices from Chornobyl” and I didn’t hesitate to come onboard.
This project is so important not just personally, but for those who remain impacted by the disaster. There is so little awareness about this disaster in my age group, mostly because many of us were born after the 1986 incident. Although I had been fortunate enough to be educated about the event because of my undergraduate education in history and political science, I know that is not the case for everyone. The lasting impacts of radiation poisoning and government policies have caused drastic problems within The Zone, but also in the outlying areas that are touched by ground water and wildlife crossings.
This is more than just an adaptation of a book, and the book itself is more than just a collection of stories. It is a call for awareness, action, and movement. For these reasons I chose to take on “Voices From Chornobyl”, and I am excited to see its development in the upcoming months.