Voices From Chornobyl

this is for thousands of years


New this week

New Team Members

We are incredibly lucky to welcome Corwin Evans, Deanna Fleysher and Jessica Farley to our already chock-full-of-talent team and ensemble.

No, seriously, they are awesome! Be sure to say hi when you see them at the show or around the Fringe.


CORWIN EVANS 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.

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

JESSICA FARLEY (Stage Manager) is fantastic and has been working in theatre and short films for over 15 years. Most of her work has been on the East Coast as she is a native of Washington, D.C. Her favorite roles include Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Morse in Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare. She has also studied modern dance, flamenco and various kinds of physical theatre. Jessica is a singer and writer as well and has performed her poetry in small venues in Los Angeles and has published work in local magazines in Spanish and English. 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.

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!

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:

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!

Fringe Family and Voices from Chornobyl, Jr.

If you haven’t already checked out the page about the Hollywood Fringe Festival on the top of the page, you should. We are presenting Voices from Chornobyl, Jr as part of their Fringe Family program this year. Essentially, we have developed an interactive children’s piece to help spread awareness and education. The play was presented last month at the Atwater Village Public Library to great success, and both teachers and librarians gave us some wonderful feedback.

Katya was 9 when the accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant changed her life. An interactive and educational story of a young girl struggling with her world, brought to you by the Awareness Team of Voices From Chornobyl.

Tickets are already on sale, and we are currently fundraising in order to make this piece happen to the best of its potential. We are slated to have four shows, with one preview the Saturday before the festival opens. More information is available on the ticketing page, includes dates and time (June 11, 18, 19, 25,26 at 1:00pm).

We will have an announcement later this week regarding the full cast and crew for the fringe production as well as more information about our preview at Silver Lake Jubilee!

Chip in to the Fringe!

As we embark on our project’s second major undertaking, we still need your help!

Chip In to the Fringe

workshop at Atwater Village Branch of LAPL

The more money we raise:

the more children we reach

the more accessible we can be to all audiences (ASL Interpreters, Visual Describers, Translators)

the more we help our arts ed umbrella, Enrichment Works

We’ve made it incredibly easy for you to donate whatever is possible – and don’t forget to check out the perks for donating more, including ads in our program.

Click here to Chip In!



or comment below!

UK Charity’s 25th Anniversary Presentation of VFC

We’ll post pictures from last night’s reading soon, but meanwhile here is the poignant information on Chernobyl Children’s Life Line presentation of our play Voices From Chornobyl as part of their 25th Anniversary Vigil. (from their Flickr Page):


Voices From Chernobyl

April 26th 2011 will be the 25th Anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear reactor accident, at Chernobyl in northern Ukraine. The recent events in Japan have led to significant media attention on this anniversary and the work of UK charities such as Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) who, since 1991, have been helping the 1000’s of children of Belarus and Ukraine who are living in contaminated regions of these countries, blighted by the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl.

To commemorate the 25th Anniversary events are being planned in the UK and all over Europe. Through the recently formed European Chernobyl Network, CCLL came up with the idea of holding simultaneous candle light memorials at venues throughout Europe on the eve of the disaster i.e. Monday 25th April, as the disaster happened at 1.23am on the 26th April. For the Derbyshire Dales, we will be holding an outdoor memorial event at Stoney Wood, off Middleton Road, in Wirksworth beginning at 8pm.

The commemoration evening will include a performance of the play, “Voices from Chornobyl” based on an award winning book written by Svetlana Alexievich by the same title. Images from the disaster and the immediate aftermath will be projected onto a large scene behind the actors. The main event will be the creation of a candle memorial consisting of a large diameter international radiation symbol and also a “25” formed by 25 people holding candles. Everyone there will have the opportunity to place a candle in the commemorative radiation symbol which will be about 4metres in diameter.

It’s been an fascinating journey for me, signed up initially as an actor – and then having to step forward and make my directorial debut, tackling a very difficult and emotional piece. We had our final rehearsal at our rehearsal room last night – it will be a powerful performance.

If you are anywhere nearby – please come. If not – please look out for local events. 25 years on, it is still a major issue for the people of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

With thanks to Nicholas Lativy for the use of his shot of the CNPP – unfortunately the promotion budget didn’t stretch to a visit to Ukraine.

The Cast
The Cast:
From left to right:
Anna: a villager – played by Hilary Jones
Vasily: a physicist – played by Lee Stephens
Lyudmilla: a fireman’s wife – played by Krystina Johnson
Grigory: a liquidator – played by Gordon Conway
Katya: a daughter and mother – played by Bryony Pollock
Sergei: a camerman – played by Mark Sobey

Meet the cast of VFC Jr. workshop!

We have a great cast to workshop Voices From Chornobyl Jr., and am thrilled to welcome this talented group into the ensemble!

ROBERT NEGRON* (Vasily Shimanky) trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, South Coast Repertory Professional Conservatory, Antaeus Academy, A.C.T. Summer Conservatory, La Jolla Playhouse Internship, CSU Summer Arts Conservatory, and Coronado School of the Arts . He has worked in such theatres as the Rubicon Theatre, Boston Court, Old Globe Theatre and most recently at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Robert wrote and produced an adaptation of the book Into the Wild called Beautiful Blueberries 142 as a Black Swan project at OSF in 2007. He is the Artistic Director of The Indy Convergence, co-founded Dragon Fly Theatre Company in the San Diego area and Topshelf Entertainment in LA. In L.A. and San Diego Robert teaches classes including Acting for Dancers, Acting for the Camera, Acting Professionally and numerous Shakespeare workshops. Robert was the 1999 recipient of the Emerging Young Artist award.

CHANNING SARGENT (Katya Shimanky) Since moving to Los Angeles, Channing began studying comedy improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade, where she continues to train today.  She also currently trains with Chekhov Studio International, an acting school dedicated to the Michael Chekhov Technique. In December 2009, Channing self-produced her original show, Legacy, at the Electric Lodge in Venice, CA. More information on the show can be found here. Channing is currently writing a series of short web videos, as well a short screenplay slated for production in 2011. She also teaches theatre and writing to at-risk youth in the Los Angeles area through The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, is a collaborating artist with peck peck dance ensemble, and a producer of web content at Maker Studios, creators of The Station. SAG/AFTRA

NICOL ZANZARELLA-GIACALONE* (Irina Shimanky) is thrilled to be working on Voices From Chornobyl. She is a member of the Antaeus A2 Company and NY’ s Ensemble Studio Theatre. Theatre credits include: The Capulets and Montagues (Andak Stages), Cousin Bette, Stage Door, Classicsfest 2010 (The Antaeus Company), Richard III (The Charlens Company), Swingin’ with Petula (Ensemble Studio Theatre LA/Studio 6), Romeo and Juliet (Princeton Rep), The Winter’ s Tale (Stonington Opera House), Henrietta Hermaline’ s Fall From Great Heights, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Ensemble Studio Theatre) and Arthur Miller’s Clara (Alumni Theatre Westchester). Film credits include: HOME (nominee Best Actress and winner Best Feature at Trenton Film Festival), Too Much Sleep (nominated Independent Spirit Award), Zig Zag, Manhattan Chase, Lower
than the Angels.

Sneak a peek at our Hollywood Fringe Festival Premiere

Tuesday, April 26th

3:30pm Voices From Chornobyl Jr.

Story-time at the Atwater Village Branch of LA Public Library

Featuring: Robert Negron*, Channing Sargent & Nicol Zanzarella-Giacalone*

Dramaturg: Karen Jean Martinson

Producer: Rachel Stoll

free  & open to ages 8 +

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

Special thanks to Bradford Beacom, Katie Sweeney & Kappa Victoria Wood, who originated the roles in our adult script and whose feedback honed this new script.

Artist Spotlight: Diana Kohne

Kaldi 3147 Glendale Boulevard LA 90039We currently have an art showing at Kaldi Coffee & Tea in Atwater Village.

Pieces from around the world as well as local artist Diana Kohne are shown. We asked Diana more about her experience.

Self-portrait by Diana Kohne

How did you become involved in the project?

Cindy Marie Jenkins and I have been following one another on Twitter for many months.  She became interested in my art, and I became interested in Chernobyl.  I wanted to show my machine work for Voices From Chornobyl because Chornobyl is an example of the dark side of the subjects of my paintings.  

Why did you choose the LA River etchings? Are these typical of your work?

I chose the L.A. River etchings because the line quality and the grittiness of the etchings are more stark than my other work.  I consider my paintings of machines almost cheerful.  Overly colorful or cheerful machines seemed inappropriate in this situation.  

The L.A. River etchings are similar to my paintings because both are representations of machines.

Can you tell us a little about your artistic process? 

The etchings on display for Voices From Chornobyl are among a series of etchings of machines along the L.A. River.  I am wheatpasting similar prints along the river, leading to the powerlines that they represent.  These etchings aren’t meant to last.  The dissapear after a few rains.  The displayed etchings use a similar process, but are meant to last.  

To make a print, I scratch an image into plexiglass, rub ink into the grooves, and print using a palm press.  A palm press is a doorknob on furniture casters.  It takes all of my might to press the ink out of the grooves and onto the paper.  Keeping with the street art theme, the prints are wheatpasted to found board (the more beat up, the more beautiful).  Wheat paste is considered archival.  It’s used in bookmaking, and people in Victorian times used it to hang their wallpaper.

You sold one of your etchings the second day! Can you tell us why you decided to give a percentage as a donation to VFC?

It’s not often that an artist knows that commission on their work is going to a good cause.  

Diana Kohne was born in 1984 in California, and grew up in Texas. Diana is painting, etching, and pasting machines. Watch her LA River art video:

Please join us for a reception at Kaldi Coffee & Tea

on Tuesday, April 26th, at 6pm before the staged reading.

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