Voices From Chornobyl

this is for thousands of years



Many many thanks

There are few ways to thank everyone for the incredible experience we had at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Producing

Kendra Chell, Kappa Victoria Wood & Brett Colbeth

and cultivating an audience for this show proved to be a team effort, and I want to thank everyone in the program below, plus the following participants: Jennifer Jejay of I Heart Hamas, Todd Blakesley & Dulce Maria Solis of Chela, Meghan McCauley of Spring Awakening, Monica Martin from ArtWorks, Anton Ray of Warrior Poet and Matt Quinn of Theater Asylum.

We were one of the plays awarded a Best of the Fringe, which includes an offer for extension. Comment below to subscribe to our mailing list or email .

Many thanks as well to Theatre Unleashed, who nominated us for their Unleashed Award!

Voices From Chornobyl jr.

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins | Directed by Aaron Kozak

Shelley Delayne & Kappa Victoria Wood

Inspired by the book of interviews

Voices From Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

Produced by special arrangement with the publisher

Featuring Kendra Chell, Brett Colbeth*, Shelley Delayne, Jesse Sharp* & Kappa Victoria Wood

Stage Managers Jessica Farley & Deanna Fleysher

Sound Designer Corwin Evans

Co-Producer Rachel Stoll | Social Media Jennifer Brooks

Dramaturg Karen Jean Martinson | Graphics Caroline Sharp


Kendra Chell

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

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

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

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!

additional ensemble


*denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the professional union of actor and stage managers

production team

JENNIFER BROOKS (Social Media) has been working on and off (mostly off) the stage for 15+ years.  She holds a BA from San Francisco State, where she was the Student President of the Theatre Department. For over five years, she worked with L.A. Theatre Works, the premier radio theatre company in the country, where she was in charge of casting 10+ shows a year with top name actors of stage and screen for their radio show on NPR.  She has also worked with California Shakespeare Theatre, Campo Santo and Malibu Theatre Company.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats.

CORWIN EVANS (Sound Designer) is a freelance designer of sound, projections and integrated experiences. He’s worked in the LA area for five years, and chances are pretty darn good he’s going to see you at some events this Fringe. He’s excited at the prospect of a prodigious amount of high-fives. Corwin is on a mission to work in almost every one of the 300+ theaters in LA. In the meantime, he enjoys the roller coaster ride of cat ownership, writes original music for theatre and/or fun, pretends to be a comedy writer on his lunch hour and works as a Concierge for Center Theatre Group. | | |

Jessica Farley

JESSICA FARLEY (Stage Manager) is fantastic and has been working in theatre and short films for over 15 years. She trained at the George Washington University and with instructors from the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Jessica is a participant in the Global Theatre Project and founding member of the Tripod Actors Collective. She’s thrilled to be working on VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL as she has worked on projects for humanitarian causes throughout the world.  Jessica loves people and is especially excited to be involved in the Hollywood Fringe and would like to give a shout to her uncle Marc Spiegel, storyteller extraordinaire, who wrote and performed The Grubrag’s Ballad for the Capitol Fringe Festival in D.C. in 2010 and will again be performing 2011. Jessica is passionate about human rights and has worked with Amnesty international for about 15 years and is a coordinator for their Young Professionals network and the State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator for Southern California, for which she often speaks publicly and engages in community outreach. Her human rights and community-building work informs her artistic pieces, which all stem from a deep dedication to the creation of meaning and the True, the Beautiful and the Good.

Deanna Fleysher

DEANNA FLEYSHER (Stage Manager) is a performer, teacher and director just arrived from NYC. She is very excited to be working on this project!

Cindy Marie Jenkins

CINDY MARIE JENKINS (Playwright & Outreach) is a Storyteller based in Los Angeles. She is obsessed with outreach & community-building. In 2008, Cindy gave a Key Note Speech at “Remember Chernobyl,” an Annual Conference for UK & Irish Chernobyl Charities.  April 2011 presentations included Stockton England and 3 locations in Los Angeles. In June the ensemble travels to San Diego to present the piece in conjunction with Inner Mission Productions. June also brings the premiere of her ten-minute play Dragon Compact as part of Moving Arts’ CAR PLAYS, presented at the RADAR LA International Theatre Festival, leading up to the TCG Conference. She is also running around the Directors Lab West June 11-18th, as a member  of the Steering Committee. In March she returned to The Indy Convergence, where she workshopped MYTHistory Part .5 (, a transmedia piece on perception. Previous community art installations/interactions were shown at the 1st Annual Atwater Art Walk, Summer Nights on the Boulevard, The Barnsdall Gallery, The Courtyard Gallery, the Silver Lake Jubilee (2010 & 2011) and the Children’s Festival of the Arts in Hollywood. She regularly contributes to LA Stage Times, Atwater Village Now, The Inspired Classroom, Bitter Lemons & LAFPI.

Aaron Kozak

AARON KOZAK (Director) has been doing theater for 20 years, debuting in “Camelot” in 1990 at the Lamplight Theatre in Nacogdoches, Texas. Since then, he’s performed in over forty plays, 7 feature films, and countless shorts. He wrote, produced, directed, edited and starred in”The Show Businessman,” which was selected as an official finalist of the 2010 Las Vegas Film Festival. His directing/editing credits include Ebay’s Regifting Campaign with Andy Richter, Revelle Studios’ “Star Mashers,” MTV’s “True Life,” “The Night Audit,” “Basketball Shorts,” “The Chinnedy’s,” and “Savages.” As a playwright, he was privileged to be affiliated with the International Fringe circuit. His play “Goodbye, Love. Goodbye, Joy. Hello, Travis McElroy.” was performed at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC; and his play THE BIRTHDAY BOYS will be making its New York debut in late 2011Karen Jean Martinson/early 2012.

KAREN JEAN MARTINSON (Dramaturg) is a scholar, dramaturg, director, and sometimes puppeteer who freelances throughout Los AngelesMartinson was awarded her Ph.D. in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory from the University of Minnesota in 2008. Through her academic and artistic work, she explores issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality within US American consumer culture.

Caroline Sharp

CAROLINE SHARP (Graphics & Social Media) is proud to be a part of this tremendous production. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama, Caroline has studied with the renowned Atlantic Theater Company in both New York and Los Angeles. Her work includes roles in The Importance of Being Earnest, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, An Enemy of The People, & the recent new musical, Group which also has performances at the Hollywood Fringe.

RACHEL STOLL (Producer) is happy to be producing in the Hollywood Fringe Festival again this year. She is awesome. Special thx to Cindy Marie Jenkins and the rest of the VFC team, to my mother for supporting our April production and to Jon Armstrong for keeping me sane. www.RachelStoll.Com |


Executive Producer | $200 | Barbara Blankenship Advocate | $100 | Shelley Delayne | Aaron Lyons | Sponsor | $50-99 | Kelly Banusciewitz of Beans Boutique | Alex Bruno | Hallie Faben

Patron | $0-49 | Cassandra Davis | Alicia Gibbs | Bari Hochwald | Eugene Hutchins | Mike Khachanov | Christopher Lutz | Lauren Maddox | Karen Jean Martinson | Robert Negron | Pamela Noles | Stephen Gabriel Pallo | Sherri Pender | Leonora & Scott Pitts | Steven Scott | Michael Seel | Marta Segura | Marc Stigler | Alyson Unger | Janet Whitty | Bethanee Wilgocki | David Wisehart

special thanks

Abraham Tetenbaum, Bitter Lemons, Cynthia Brickman, Kumbi Butler of Heartbeat House, Joe Luis Cedillo & Company of Strangers, Rhianon Elan, Tracy Eliot, Alexandra Goodman, Dan Jenkins, Meghan McCauley, Pamela Noles, Lee Osteen II, Kat Primeau, Patty J. Robinson, Michael Seel, Richard Tatum & so many more.

much gratitude to the entire Fringe Staff

Jon Armstrong, Ezra Buzzington, Alexa Hanhram, Ben Hill, Nick Hill, Stacy Jones, Kanchan Mattoo, Meghan McCauley, David McKeever, Elizabeth Steele, Abbie Wagoner and Gavin Worth

Excerpt of VFC jr. script

Brett Colbeth & Kappa Victoria Wood in rehearsal

Here is an excerpt of our piece, by request from parents thinking about seeing the show! Remember that our preview tomorrow is Pay Way You Want for Families, and we run June 18, 19, 25 & 26 at 1pm. Thanks!


I’d heard stories, every family has the one distant cousin or favorite uncle who spoke out against the government, and I’d heard of them disappearing, or going to jail, or worse. I guess you understand more about the world the older you get, because it wasn’t much longer after that when I learned more about living near a power plant.

(coming home from school)

At the foot of the hill puffs a tractor

At the top of the hill a reactor

With Chornobyl we are strong

Our motherland can do no wrong.


Who taught you that song, Katya?


My teacher. She said that Chornobyl creates power for us to use in our homes. See?

(Runs to the light switch and turns it on and off)

We have electricity in our house because the Chornobyl power plant makes it for us.


What else did your teacher tell you?


That our motherland will become a strong force in the world because of all the power that Chornobyl creates, and we are very lucky to live so close to it.


Did your teacher say anything about safety tests?




Let me tell you more, Katya. Your teacher told you all the good things, but it wasn’t necessarily the whole story. What I want to tell you isn’t really bad, but it is a reason why we should be careful. I need to ask you not to tell anyone else about it, though. We can talk about these things to each other, with you, me and Mom, but not to anyone else, okay?

What’s next? Find out by seeing the show!

Story of the Script: VFC jr.

It’s a strange idea, turning Svetlana Alexievich‘s  interviews into a play, and even stranger to think of a children’s script. I know because of the looks I get from people when I say it.

This particular script has been in development a few months, and on the day after our first real rehearsal, I’d like to honor all of the artists whose encouragement and collaboration leads us to the Fringe.

First, Rachel Stoll, who re-ignited this idea in the back of my brain that the stories of Chornobyl will be lost if we can’t open our audience to children. History books certainly aren’t covering it.

Next, the ensemble members who braved our first read-through: Brad Beacom, Katie Sweeney & Kappa Victoria Wood from our so-called ‘adult’ script. Due to unexpected scheduling conflicts, Brad & Katie couldn’t continue on the journey, but their feedback , along with Dramaturg Karen Jean Martinson, Actress Caroline Sharp & Blog Editor Jane Whitty (behind the camera), sparked exactly what I needed to move our script to the next draft.


Maybe on purpose, maybe not, but I cut a lot of my own feedback out of it.

So the moral is: surround yourself with great talent so you can sit back and drink Fat Tire!

And just in case you want to see some quick excerpts of the adult script before part 2:



Thank God for Google Earth: Response to Fukushima vs. Chornobyl

This response was written by Awareness Team Member & Dramaturg Karen Jean Martinson.

On Wednesday I attended the lecture “The Crisis at Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant” given by Caltech Professor Joseph E. Shepherd, the C. L. “Kelly” Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Shepherd first presented a thorough overview of the reactor design including the safety systems, then he sketched out the probable sequence of events and explained the physical and chemical processes that led to the explosions and fires, all from an engineering perspective. I appreciated his “just the facts” approach to a crisis that can be all too easily politicized. Those debates should also happen, but in a different arena. We need to know what happened if we as a global community are to meaningfully debate our relationship to nuclear power.

Nuclear fission generates a lot of heat; that’s why nuclear power plants work so well. In Chernobyl as in Fukishima, heat from nuclear fission in the core of the reactor boils water, which turns to steam; the steam drives several turbines, which generate electricity; the steam then condenses back into water that is returned to the core to begin the cycle again. As long as this process is maintained and temperatures are kept in check, things go along quite nicely. But if something disrupts the ability to maintain control of the temperatures, the heat makes the situation incredibly dangerous, which is why there are multiple backups and independent and diverse cooling systems. In Japan, the sheer power and magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the system – the facility simply was not built to withstand such force.

Joe Shepherd is the C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

I bring all of this up, however, not to explain the basics of nuclear power, but rather to describe a moment I witnessed after the lecture. After Professor Shepherd finished and had answered some public questions, the event officially ended. A small crowd, which included two engineering
students, gathered around him to ask additional questions. Engineers have an extraordinary ability to identify problems and seek out solutions for them, and I watched as these two young woman diagnosed and discussed the situation with the Professor.

The problem: the cooling system required external power. The earthquake disrupted this power. The tsunami flooded the backup generators that run when power is disrupted. The batteries that are a third layer of protection ran for 8 hours until they ran out of power.

A potential solution: run a cooling system with the energy of the reactor itself, thereby eliminating the danger of the loss of external power. Why not use the steam already present to run the cooling system?

This, said Shepherd, is what they were attempting to do at Chornobyl.

I found this whole exchange to be extremely enlightening. I was standing with the best and brightest of our nation’s minds – and they reached the Chornobyl conclusion, which at least tells me that the tests at Chornobyl weren’t completely without scientific merit. The Caltech students were brainstorming, and they had an expert to counsel them as they thought through the problem.

Shepard was able to explain to them how many variables were in play, and he generously helped them see how these variables rendered an idea intended to make the reactor more safe exceedingly unsafe. In Chornobyl, tests proceeded without the realization of how unpredictable a nuclear reactor could be.

The other thing that struck me about the lecture stemmed from Professor Shepherd’s extensive use of satellite images in the course of his presentation. We’ve all seen them: the before and after shots of Japan that lay bare the destruction wrought there. In the days following the earthquake and tsunami, I poured over them, trying to wrap my head around what had happened there. For Shepherd, the images enabled him to make reasoned assessments of the nuclear facility, and at one point he said, in an offhand aside, “Thank God for Google Earth.” This got me thinking about the increasingly open connection we have to each other. I, like so many others, watched the tsunami crash into northern Japan as it happened. I followed updates in real time. I watched news programming from Tokyo, the BBC, Public Broadcasting, and the various cable sites.
Fukushima was reported on from all angles, through all types of media.

In contrast, the Soviet Union was able to downplay the international

Image source here

ramifications of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster for two days until Sweden reported the increased radioactivity. The official Soviet response was
sluggish; it was only when the severity of the situation could not be denied that the extent of the disaster began to be revealed. News trickled out of the region, often with conflicting stories, and in many ways, this not knowing amplified the fear attached to the disaster. The sort of secrecy
that dominated the Cold War no longer seems possible. With these sorts of disasters – incidents which truly affect the entire globe – transparency is a very reassuring thing.

Karen Jean Martinson is a Scholar, Director and Dramaturg.

For more Responses to Fukushima, click here

Fact Finding about Fukushima

~ This post was written by team member Caroline Sharp

When Cindy first approached me about contributing to this project, I was pretty sure I knew about as much about Chornobyl as the next person, which is to say, next to nothing.  Okay, so maybe (as our recent foray to The Grove demonstrates) a little more than the next person, but still nothing to hang my hat on.  My journey in educating myself of the subject has been heartbreaking, rage-inducing, and really illuminating; not just about the situation at Chornobyl, but the human condition in general.

The recent events in Japan have put my Chornobyl education into very sharp focus: you know that place where you know just enough to be really frightened, but not quite enough to actually know what you’re frightened of? I’m a pretty resourceful person, and I want to know all the facts, so I thought I’d share some of the results of my research into what’s actually going on at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. In moments of international crisis like this – misinformation can spread as fast (or faster if it’s particularly sensational) than the real story, and for non-experts, such as myself, it can be frustratingly difficult to separate fact from fiction.

NPR has been interviewing experts of every stripe for days. They have accumulated all their stories, interviews and commentary into this primer.

Mother Jones, a political news periodical, has gotten a lot of attention lately for it’s investigative pieces that seek to explicate complicated current events (the protests and instability in Egypt and Libya, the demonstrations and political maneuvering in Wisconsin, the budget debate in Washington, etc.) for the layman. They have a really excellent piece that makes the very complicated subject of nuclear science easier to grasp, and they’re updating it regularly as news from Japan comes in.

One of my favorite daily reads is the tech blog Gizmodo. They have a pretty well-documented interest in Chornobyl and in nuclear power in general, and they have a comprehensive breakdown of events as well. This article also has a whole mess of links, to Boing-Boing, the BBC, Salon, Al Jazeera, The Atlantic and more! It’s a black-hole time-suck of really good science lessons.

A significant link on the Gizmodo page is to this Salon article, which thoroughly debunks a viral blog post that you may have seen by a Dr. Josef Oehmen at MIT. MIT is currently hosting this blog post, they have not taken it down, but I would say read it with a grain of salt (or at least read it with this Salon piece.)

On the subject of misinformation, this map has been going around (before you look at it, know that it’s a hoax – I’m only including it so you’ll know what it looks like in case someone sends it to you or you see it come up in your research):

It purports to be an estimated trajectory of nuclear fallout from the Fukushima plant released by Australian Radiation Services and has their logo, but they don’t claim it and the map isn’t hosted or displayed anywhere on their website. (Another key factor that reveals this to be less than savory, is in the legend. A real fallout map wouldn’t be measured in RADs. RAD is a medical term that stands for Radiation Absorbed Dose, meaning how much radiation is absorbed by an individual, not how much material is in the air or how radioactive it is. I would be very skeptical about any source of information that includes this map.

For me, knowledge is the best antidote to fear. These are uncertain times in general, and after the tragic events in Japan over the last few days it is even more important to make sure we have as much knowledge and awareness as possible.

Japan: A Reaction

I was one and a half years old when Chernobyl happened. I learned about it later on but everything was always in the past tense; Chernobyl was a cautionary tale, not a living breathing disaster. Only after becoming involved with Voices From Chornobyl did I truly realize the ongoing implications of what happened that day in 1986.

Like many people I stayed up late last Thursday evening watching the heartbreaking footage of the aftermath of both the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. At the first mention of the state of Japan’s three nuclear reactors in the area my stomach dropped. Even as I write this there are new developments, the situation is constantly changing, and no one can be certain what will happen next. While authorities are assuring the public nothing like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island is possible the parallels are hard to ignore. For me it’s somewhat surreal, after learning so much about Chernobyl – the events leading up to it, the immediate aftermath and the ongoing effects – to have an event happening in the modern day, that in many ways brings these elements into my daily life, was not something I was prepared for. I have to admit even after all the awareness we have been doing for VFC I never expected to be confronted with these realities in this way.

I don’t want to be reactionary, I think the major news stations do a good enough job on their own, and I don’t even mean this as a criticism of nuclear power per se, but the events of the past few days have made the topic of nuclear plants and radiation very real for me. But despite the fear of what might happen I think it’s important to point out the differences we have seen in the reaction to these ongoing events. Most evident is the amount of information available, in the age of the 24/7 news cycles and social media the global community is much more aware of what is happening than in the days after Chernobyl. Transparency is key to dealing with disasters and can truly impact the outcome in many ways. The early evacuation of those that live near the endangered reactors is a positive example of the difference between what is happening now in Japan and how the Former Soviet Union dealt with the events at Chernobyl.

The best test of course is time, to see how this is handled going forward and what the true aftermath might be. As I have learned from Chernobyl the effects of radiation go on long after all the foreign journalists have left and even after the major clean up is done. To quote a line from the play “this is for thousands of years”; for my part I’m hoping this will never be said of the events unfolding in Japan.

– Jane

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