Voices From Chornobyl

this is for thousands of years


May 2011

Fringe Family Friday Interviews: #2 – Gregory Crafts

VFC, Jr. is talking to some of the other Hollywood Fringe participants in our new series, Fringe Family Friday Interviews. Our second interview is with Gregory Crafts, who is presenting his show at the Fringe, Super Sidekick: The Musical.

What made you decide to write a children’s show and put it into Fringe Family?

Well, Super Sidekick was originally conceived as a one-act play back in 2006. I was in a writer’s lab at the time and my sister-in-law was pregnant with my nephew, Brody. Being strapped for cash and not able to afford a gift to celebrate his impending arrival, I decided that I wanted to write something for him. I was obsessed with comic book superheroes as a kid. Spider-Man and the X-Men were particular favorites. Considering how much I enjoyed those stories, and how well I knew them, I thought that writing a play in that genre for him would be an achievable task for my first play.

My nephew was born in October and the first reading of the play was four days later. This reading also marked another important first for me – the first time I ever worked with my then-future wife, Jenn. The reading went well, but everyone agreed that the show was missing “something.” After the reading, she e-mailed me to say thanks for inviting her to be a part of it and she suggested that it would make a great children’s musical. Well, Jenn and I started dating and by the time we’d gotten engaged a year later, I put out a call on CraigsList seeking a composer with a flair for superheroes and children’s theatre. Enter Mike Shapiro, professional composer. Mike was my first interviewee. He also turned out to be my only one, as after we talked I cancelled the interviews with all of my other potential collaborators. We took a year and a half and worked on developing the music. Jenn agreed to direct the first production of it, and the new-and-improved Super Sidekick: The Musical premiered last year as a part of LA’s Festival of New American Musicals on our first wedding anniversary.

When I heard that Ben and company were starting up Fringe Family, I absolutely knew that Super Sidekick had to be a part of it. Jenn is directing this production and we’ve managed to bring back most of the original cast. We have a few new faces too, and they promise to bring new dynamics to the show. I’m very excited about what we’ve got planned.

What has been the most exciting or fun thing about working on this particular project?

There are many exciting elements about working on this show. First and foremost, it’s a fun play for everyone – the cast, the kids and their parents. I think the cast that we’ve assembled is incredibly talented and excited to be a part of this story. Scott Sharma is resuming his endearing portrayal of Inky, the titular sidekick to combat the evil Sorcerer Slurm (Shawn Cahill, a triple threat with extensive Broadway/Touring credits) and his Ninja Koala hench-… men? (hench-koalas? I don’t know…) Noah Butler injects some new life into the role of the bumbling Hero, Blackjack the Bold, who is captured by Slurm in his attempt to rescue PrincessPenelope (reprised by Hanna Nawroth), leaving it up to Inky to save his friends, The Kingdom and the day from the forces of evil. The returning Sara-Beth Wichman, and new ninjas Heather Lake, Ana Therese Lopez and Jude Evans round out the cast.

Between getting to work with this cast, plus three of my best friends in Jenn, Mike and our Stage Manager/Assistant Director, Erin, this show has a wonderful family feel already, just based on how close we all are as a cast and crew. It’s created such a wonderful, fun collaborating environment.

What do you hope families will take away from your show when they see it during the Hollywood Fringe?

There are some important lessons in the show that I think children can benefit from (like that it’s okay to be scared, the importance of friendship & teamwork (and that Ninja Koalas “are very dangerous, you know” but they like their eucalyptus leaves!), but really, I would love to see families coming out of this show and laughing, feeling like they just enjoyed a really fun story. A few months after the show premiered last year, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who had brought his 7 year old son to see it. He said that his son was still singing “I’m Not Afraid of the Dark” (one of the songs from the show) and playing “Inky and Blackjack” with his action figures. If I could give that kind of meaningful experience to a kid and have it leave that kind of impression, I’ll be happy.

For more information on Super Sidekick, call (818) 849-4039. Also, check out the Theatre Unleashed website:

Purchase tickets to Super Sidekick: The Musical here!


The Cast Responds: Kappa Victoria Wood

We asked the ensemble if they could say a few words on why they want to be involved with this awareness project. First up is Kappa Victoria Wood, who has played Katya in both the adult and now the interactive children’s show.

“History had repeated itself”

Kappa rehearsing Katya (say that 10x fast)

Here’s my response to the material and why I keep subjecting myself to (stories about) radiation:

My character, Katya, was 9-year-old when the accident happened.  I was also 9, but on the other end of the world in my safe little suburban neighborhood and have no recollection of ever having heard of it.  Even throughout my education, I can’t recall ever studying about Chornobyl, save for a sidebar in a textbook, if that.

Fast-forward to five years ago when Voices From Chornobyl was first staged, where I learned of the weighty, compelling stories of those who were made to suffer and even those still living with the consequences of the intense radiation exposure.  How had I never heard of this?

It seemed that there was not only the struggle of the physical effects, but a social struggle of a people who were so proud of their homeland under a government that essentially let them down.  The VFC material in its various stagings over the past five years has always walked the fine line of presenting some rather horrific stories without preaching for or against nuclear power.

When I would share with people the nature of the material, I felt the need to explain that this is an on-going story.  As Katya’s father, Vasily, says, “This is for thousands of years.”  Then the Fukushima incident happened.  While the circumstances were radically different, the danger of radiation is still the same.  What really struck a chord with me is how so much of the language used by reporters, the technical terms, the governmental statements, even 25 years after the Chornobyl accident, all sounded the same.  History had repeated itself and suddenly, I didn’t have to justify why remembering Chornobyl was significant.

My hope is that in addition to educating others, Voices From Chornobyl serves as a reminder that even the largest-scale events are about individual people who have their own hopes, thoughts, dreams, perspectives and, well, voices.

Art from Chornobyl

Outreach at Silver Lake Jubilee

Meghan McCauley, Outreach Coordinator for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, invited us to share some time at last weekend’s Silver Lake Jubilee. Guest Artist Rhianon Gutierrez led the crowd through some games based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. I trained in TotO last spring.

It was pretty awesome, and many thanks to the passers-by who we wrangled – er, asked to participate and the other Fringers who jumped right into it, even as they were about to perform themselves. I will post more of their pics soon!

To see more pictures of the interactive theatre games we played, click through to our Facebook page. Here is a sample gallery:

Yoga & Music for Chornobyl!

Yesterday the yoga and dance studio Heartbeat House donated a class for us! There was great live music and fourteen people generously gave to our efforts. Many thanks to Kumbi Butler and all who stayed a few minutes after class to hear about Voices From Chornobyl Jr. and took our materials. Hope we’ll see you at the show in June!

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Ticketing Information

With only a few weeks left before we have our first Press Preview, we wanted to share the ticketing information.

Tickets are on sale at the Hollywood Fringe website:

Fringe Central (ArtWorks Theater, Studio A)
6567 Santa Monica Blvd, Los AngelesWHEN:  June 18, 19, 25, 26th at 1:00pmADMISSION: $10.00

PRESS PREVIEW: June 11th at 1:00pm.  ($5.00 tickets)

If you are a festival participant, please type “participant” when you check out for $5.00 tickets! We look forward to seeing you there.

Fringe Family Friday Interviews: #1 – Pam Noles

VFC, Jr. is talking to some of the other Hollywood Fringe participants in our new series, Fringe Family Friday Interviews. Our first interview is with Pam Noles, who is presenting her show at the Fringe, ! Death 40-Feet Tall !

You presented this show last year did anything change? Why Fringe Family?

! Death 40-Feet Tall ! is my first show ever. The difference between its debut at the 2010 Hollywood Fringe and the version presented at the 2011 Fringe is one of scalpel-level text tweaking. It’s still a deeply personal story of one geek girl’s relationship with her best friend, framed around giant robots. My hope is that the slightly revised text, combined with performance guidance from Konstantine Anthony, makes the show even stronger.

Because my amazing and brilliant teacher Molly Prather sent me out into this storytelling/performance world with the tools needed to get the job done, as well as the confidence to believe I Can, I’m feeling pretty good about the new version of the show.

I signed on with Fringe Family because that new HFF program is a natural fit! Waaaay back when I began writing D40FT I did so with a family audience in mind. There was cursing in the very early drafts, but I quickly stripped it all out because it was unnecessary for the story I wanted to tell. I also remembered something writer Harlan Ellison said to a writing workshop I attended back in the day, explaining why he tends to talk like a sailor, but writes like a gent. When it came down to it, I viewed writing D40FT as family friendly a welcome challenge to meet.

What has been the most exciting or fun thing about working on this particular project?

Discovering the vast diversity of fellow Transformers fans, along with listening to other people share stories about their best friends. Didn’t see that coming! It’s been cool. I also had quite a few actual youth in my audiences last year, and remain chuffed at how much they enjoyed themselves.

What do you hope families will take away from your show when they see it during the Hollywood Fringe?

I’d like the youth to leave with a sense that they can stand up, roll out, and be their own person – despite the varied pressures they will experience urging otherwise. I’d like the adults to leave with a memory of their beloved best friends in mind, along with the realization of their responsibility to support the youth in their lives struggling to Become what they will one day Be. And, of course, I’d like any member of my audience to leave happily entertained after listening to me talk for about an hour.

If my show can also contribute in some small way to the eternal battle over the worth of Michael Bay films, that’s just a bonus!

Any suggestions on what else to see at the Fringe?

There are *tons* of fab offerings at HFF11! Please go to, click around, and pick something to your liking to come see! Even better, be bold and pick an additional show that sounds “different” to your default tastes and go see that one, too! Come out and support independent artists. We’re cheaper than a movie ticket, and our work was not created via focus groups!

To reserve tickets to !Death 40 Feet Tall! click here for tickets.

For more information about Pam Noles, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter: @BGFCentral

Meet the Cast of VFC Jr.!

KENDRA CHELL (Irina June 25 & 26) was recently nominated for an LA Weekly Award for her role in the Open Fist Theatre production of The Illusion. She holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University and has studied with LAMDA, Berkeley Rep and UCB. She has worked with American Conservatory Theatre, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Antaeus Company and Kingsmen Shakespeare. Past credits include Arcadia, La Ronde, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, A Lie of the Mind, James Joyce’s THE DEAD and The Rover. Film and TV credits include “The Selling,” “Against the Grain,” “Venice By The Sea,” “Close So Far” and “Mary Olsen” webisodes. Kendra is a proud member of the A2 Ensemble, Antaeus’ Academy Company.

BRETT COLBETH (Vasily June 11, 19, 25 & 26) is thrilled to be a part of VFC Jr.!  Recent L.A. theatre credits include Dakin Matthews’ The Capulets and The Montagues at Andak Stage CompanyLast Fling at Circus Theatricals, and Bart DeLorenzo’s critically acclaimed King Lear at Antaeus Theatre Company.  Brett was most recently seen in Antaeus’ workshop production of Love’s Labour’s Lost directed by Darin Anthony.  Brett is a member of A2 (Antaeus’ Academy Company) as well as Shakespeare and Friends.  He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.  Much love to his peers, Cindy Jenkins, and wonderful family- Dad, Mom and Jackie.  Enjoy the show!

SHELLEY DELAYNE (Irina June 11, 18 & 19) was in the ensemble of a Hollywood Fringe Festival show last year (The Girl Who Would Be King) which received a nomination for an LA Weekly Theatre Award and is excited to be back at the Fringe as part of a completely different kind of show. Other non-Fringe plays in Los Angeles include: Laundry & Bourbon, Sylvia, Salome, Jake’s Women, and On the Verge.

JESSE SHARP (Vasily June 18) is a recent graduate of the MFA acting program at UC Irvine. Recent credits include: Into The Woods (Baker) Two Gentleman of Verona (Valentine) and the world premier musical Great Expectations at the Tony Award Winning Utah Shakespeare Festival. Tours include Grease (Vince Fontaine) and the fantastic kids show Henry and Mudge with Theatreworks USA. TV/Film credits include “General Hospital,” “The Man Show,” “Not Another Teen Movie” as well as several indies & webseries. He is excited to be making his Fringe debut!

KAPPA VICTORIA WOOD (Katya) is honored to return to Voices From Chornobyl, which has eerily become more relevant than ever. Some of Kappa’s previous work includes ‘Corie’ in Barefoot in the Park, ‘Laura’ in The Glass Menagerie, ‘Gilmer’ in Godspell and ‘Gabby’ in The Petrified Forest. Kappa would like to thank her fiancé Michael Curran for his love and support and you for supporting live theater!


Note from the playwright | I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with wonderful actors on this project, and am thrilled to add these talented people and director Aaron Kozak to the Chornobyl ensemble.

Read more about VFC jr.

Chip In to get us to the Fringe!

Attend our Yoga & Live Music Fund-raiser on Monday

Jumping Back  Digging In: on not directing my own work

Sunday: Outreach at the Silver Lake Jubilee

We have some very exciting opportunities thanks to the tireless efforts of the Hollywood Fringe Festival staff.

The first awesome outreach event specific to Fringe is our appearance at The Silver Lake Jubilee on

Sunday, May 22nd

10:00-10:40 a.m.

Santa Monica Stage

$5 donation for entry

“We’re a fun, family, art, music, theatre, comedy, literature and earth-lovin’ festival.” Read their press release here.

What are we doing there?

In the spirit of our Fringe show, we are running

interactive theatre games

to investigate and explore our world.

Suitable & adjustable for all ages

Run by our special guest Rhianon Gutierrez!

Rhianon Gutierrez is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, activist, and public speaker. Rhianon earned her BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, where she made her acclaimed documentary, When I’m Not Alone. Her current film, TRANSIENTS, is a short drama explores art, disability rights, and the one-time connections that transform our lives. A tireless advocate for people with disabilities, Rhianon has been involved with media, outreach, advocacy, and/or grassroots organizing with various organizations that focus on people with disabilities and hearing loss.

Audience will choose from the following issues

& explore solutions:



health care


deaf/hard of hearing issues

environmental issues

Then stay for Coeurage Theatre Company‘s new musical selection, Jon Armstrong performs magic & Cynthia Brinkman spills the beans about her first kiss – all sneak peeks of Hollywood Fringe Festival shows!

Full program 10-11a.m.

Food trucks, community vendors and music the rest of the day!

East Hollywood Neighborhood Council Supports VFC jr.!

Thank you to the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, who approved a letter of support, urging their local educators and community leaders to consider Voices From Chornobyl Jr.!

Below is the text. Click on this link for the signed letter of support: EHNC VFC Letter, or let us know an organization who may be interested in an outing. Tix are $10 and group discounts/workshops available.

Dear Educator and/or Community Leader,

Voices From Chornobyl is a play that explores the many impact and health implications of the Chornobyl disaster that changed the world. The play’s intention is to help the children of the region by spreading awareness of the initial and ongoing impacts of the disaster, including the long-term mental, environmental, and physical effects of radiation. In addition to the Los Angeles 25th Anniversary readings in April, the VFC team was invited to perform in San Diego, and presentations were also held in the UK as part of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline commemorations.

The EHNC endorsed 2009 readings as part of the Earth Day Celebrations which took place in the Cahuenga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. These included a talkback with a USC Professor who now consults on nuclear power technology in the White House.

The play does not take a stance on nuclear power, but rather presents stories and context so that our audience may further educate themselves and make their own decision.

In an effort to reach even more people with these forgotten stories, playwright and project director Cindy Marie Jenkins wrote a children’s script, both interactive and educational. Voices From Chornobyl Jr. will be presented as part of the Fringe Family programming in the June Hollywood Fringe Festival.

We at the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council both support this interactive and educational play, and urge you and your group to consider scheduling a field trip to the performance. Group discounts and workshops with your students are also possible as part of the experience.

Performances for June include:

Saturday, June 11th | Preview | free for groups of 5 or more

Saturday, June 18th | 1pm | $10 tickets & group discounts available

Sunday, June 19th | 1pm | $10 tickets & group discounts available

Saturday, June 25th | 1pm | $10 tickets & group discounts available

Sunday, June 26th | 1pm | $10 tickets & group discounts available

All profits from the performances benefit Chernobyl Children’s International, a charity that sends medical aid to hospitals & orphanages in the region, as well as provides holidays for those ill due to long-term effects of radiation exposure.

Thank you for your time and we hope you consider supporting the stories of these survivors as well.


for more information go to

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