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