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Voices From Chornobyl

this is for thousands of years

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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.

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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.

http://www.corwinevans.com/
http://www.facebook.com/corwin0
http://www.twitter.com/corwinevans
http://www.latensemble.com/

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

www.buttkapinski.com

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.

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.

Enjoy!

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:

 

 

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

Thank You!

April has come to a close and we are plunging headfirst into promoting Voices From Chornobyl Jr at the Hollywood Fringe Festival but before we get completely wrapped up in all things Fringe we wanted to take time to thank all the supporters and donors who made our April events possible. We on the VFC team are all so touched by the outpouring of support; we feel honored to have such amazing donors and supporters.

 Donors

Executive Producer:

Barbara Blankenship

Advocate:

Aaron Lyons

Sponsor:

Alex Bruno

Hallie Faben

Patron:

Cassandra Davis

Alicia Gibbs

Bari Hochwald
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

Supporters

Enrichment Works

Beans Boutique

heat beat house

Hypnotiq Solutions

Create Your Health

FPI

55 Degree Wine

Santosha Space

Virginia Applen, Magnetic Healer

Adrienne Montoya, Shiatsu / Acupressure Massage

THANK YOU!

The VFC Team


If you are still thinking about donating please visit our ChipIn site to make a donation that will go to our VFC Jr script to be presented at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Artist Spotlights: The Ensemble

It goes without saying, but we like to say it. These Awareness Events would not be possible without the continued support & dedication of our ensemble. We thank them all!

BRADFORD BEACOM(Vasily Shimanky), after acquiring his BA in Theater from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, left the friendly people and frigid winters of New England to move to back to his native west coast. He

Enci, Carolyn Blais & Kappa Victoria Wood in rehearsal

recently relocated to beautiful Old Town Pasadena. Besides occasional jaunts in acting, he loves well-made cocktails, Tiki Bars, and long walks on the beach.

CAROLYN BLAIS (A Solitary Human Voice) moved to LA from her hometown outside Boston, MA about a year and a half ago. An English and Theatre major, Carolyn worked administratively for two years at an educational, children’s theatre, while performing as a company member of 11:11 Theatre Company in Boston. Since moving to LA, Carolyn has kept busy by interning for The Antaeus Company, taking improvisational comedy classes, and currently working as a tutor. Carolyn hopes to teach drama class at a Montessori School in the valley this summer. She is happy to be a part of this project, helping to promote awareness of this significant cause.

ENCI (Anna Sushko) lived in Europe when the Chernobyl disaster happened, which left her with memories of songs and poems that she and her friends were singing and reciting to “vent” their fears and their uncertainty about what it all meant for them and their future. Enci is grateful for Cindy for her dedication to put up this play every year and for the cast who keeps coming back each year as well, to tell the stories, to inform the public, and to remember those affected.

AARON LYONS*(Grigory) is a member of the Antaeus Company’s A2 Ensemble. He has performed in over 80

Aaron Lyons, Bradford Beacom & Shawn MacAulay in rehearsal

productions worldwide, including Cousin Bette (Antaeus), MacBeth (as MacBeth), and is part of the original cast of VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL. He is a founding member of the Prism Dance Company and a proud member of the
AEA. He is thrilled to once again be a part of this stellar team of artists.
SHAWN MACAULAY* (Sergei Gurin) is proud to once again join Cindy and the rest of the VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL cast in raising awareness of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster and those who continue to survive.

KAPPA VICTORIA WOOD (Katya Shimanky) 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.

VFC jr. workshop cast coming soon

Supporter Spotlight: Virginia Applen – Magnetic Healer

Next up is Virginia Applen who has generously donated services to our upcoming fundraiser. Check out our conversation with her below to hear what she will be providing and why she is getting involved!

Because we ask everyone – what did you know about Chernobyl before becoming involved in this project?

I remember the horror and sadness that befell the world when the nuclear accident happened.  I was a young woman and all the warnings about the dangers of nuclear power could not prepare us for the devastation that besieged the Ukrainian people.  And now Japan.

We at Voices From Chornobyl are so grateful to everyone who is participating on April 3rd; share with us what you will be providing during the fundraiser

I work with natural earth energies to promote the healing of both the physical and emotional body.  These energies include electro-magnetic, far infrared and ionic energies.

Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose to donate services to this project?

I am thrilled to be a part of this project because I want to show that the powerful energies available to us here on earth should be used to heal and not kill.

Man has been using magnetic energy to heal for over 3500 years.  Many indigenous and ancient civilizations, including the Hebrews, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks used magnets for healing.  Legend has it that Cleopatra slept on the magnetic Lodestone to keep her young, strong, healthy and beautiful.

Today physicists, String Theorists, and Quantum Mechanic adherents alike, all agree that the basic substance of our Universe is comprised of electro-magnetic energies.  One of the main components of all cells are ions.  Ions are positively and negatively charged particles that conduct electro-magnetic pulses from within the cell.  The electro-magnetic pulses allow the cell to function.  Without ions a cell cannot live.  The magnetic currents of a healthy body, when super-energized with a healer’s magnet, can be used to promote healing.

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Interested in attending the event? Purchase tickets here!

Supporter Spotlight: Create Your Health

Our April 3rd fundraiser is fast approaching and as we gear up we would like to take the time to call out and thank all the amazing organizations and businesses donating their time and services during the event to help raise awareness.

First up is Peter Bedard with Create Your Health – expect more in the days leading up to the event!

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What did you know about Chernobyl before becoming involved in this project?

I certainly haven’t been an expert on Chernobyl. In fact other than being aware that it was, at the time, the largest nuclear disaster in the world, larger than the Three Mile Island disaster in New York, my knowledge is pretty limited. I do know that an entire city had to be closed down and all of it’s inhabitants moved due to a nuclear accident at the plant, that the plant was shut down, that radiation levels there some 20 years latter are still problematic, that birth defects in that part of the world are too common, and that it never should have happened.

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose to donate services to this project?
 

I chose to donate my time and services for a few reasons. First because the fantastic Thea Pueschel asked me to. Second because I’ve never been a supporter of nuclear energy. And third, because I think it’s important to let people know that nuclear energy is never safe. Advertising agencies and politicians have been telling us for several years now that nuclear energy is safe and efficient that it’s a “clean” energy. This is a flat out lie and it needs to be addressed. In fact, nuclear energy may be the dirtiest energy we have ever harnessed. The bi-product of coal is carbon dioxide and coal ash. The bi-product of nuclear energy is radioactive material that at it’s core is deadly to all life forms on this planet and that poisons our environment for thousands of years to come. for some reason people seem to understand that coal is bad for us but they don’t seem to understand that nuclear energy is a million times worse. As a advocate for alternative therapies it is totally congruent that I support not only true green energy solutions but that I also speak out against harmful and polluting behaviors – personal or political.

An Interview with Abraham Tetenbaum of Enrichment Works

As a follow-up to our announcement of Enrichment Works as our financial umbrella I spoke with Abraham Tetenbaum, the organizations founder, to get a little more information about what they do.

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Jane Whitty: For our readers who are not familiar with your organization can you tell us a little about what Enrichment Works does?

Abraham Tetenbaum: Enrichment Works marshals Broadway and Hollywood talent in the cause of improving education at schools, libraries, museums and hospitals.  We create and present plays and musicals in support of academic content standards: “theater to inspire learning.”  We also conduct workshops for students and educators in acting, filmmaking and circus arts.

JW: What prompted you to start this organization?

AT: My son started school in the LAUSD.  I thought it made sense to use theater to educate because actors make an emotional connection to their audience.  Once a child cares, the learning part comes naturally.  My son graduated from college last May so it must be true!

JW: What have you found most rewarding since stating Enrichment Works?

AT: The gratitude of teachers who marvel at the enthusiasm, the attentiveness and inquisitiveness of their students who attend our shows.  I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in the field of improving nutrition and fighting childhood obesity.  We were the first theater company to get involved in that cause over 8 years ago, producing two original musicals.  It has also been enormously rewarding to partner with other nonprofits on special projects, most recently Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

JW: How did you get first hear about or become involved with Voices From Chornobyl?

AT: Cindy Jenkins, our former Arts Education Director, sent me the script.  I was glad to help in any way I could.

JW: Since such a big part of Voices From Chornobyl is about finding out what people know about the disaster can you tell us about your memories or knowledge of the events that took place?

AT: My wife and I were living in Hell’s Kitchen in New York in a fifth-story walk-up above a fruit and vegetable market.  I remember relating the disaster to the produce being sold below us, the horrible notion of consuming radioactive tomatoes or corn.  How would you know?

JW: How can those reading this post right now help Enrichment Works continue the great work they are doing?

AT: I’m so glad you asked!  They can tell every parent and teacher they know to visit www.enrichmentworks.org, where they can learn about our programs and make a tax-deductible gift to sponsor our performances.

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Like what you heard about enrichment works? Visit their website to learn even more. They currently have Circus Arts Workshops available with Donna Wood-Babcock, a Ringling Bros. and Cirque du Soleil alum!

Team Interview: Carolyn Blais

 More in our team interview series – Meet Carolyn Blais one of our amazingly helpful volunteers!

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Jane Whitty: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in the arts and advocacy?

Carolyn Blais: I’ve been involved in the arts, specifically theatre arts since childhood. I was very active in middle school and high school drama club, majored in Theatre in college and worked for a Children’s Theatre Company for two years after college. Since moving to LA, I’ve volunteered with a few different theatres.

JW: How did you first get involved with Voices From Chornobyl?

CB: I met Cindy at The Antaeus Company in North Hollywood and through her, have become involved with VFC since about Oct of 2010.

JW: Before getting involved in this project how educated were you regarding Chornobyl?

CB: Not much at all. I knew it was a nuclear disaster and that was about it. I’m not sure I even knew where Chornobyl was.

JW: How would you describe your current role in the team? What areas of the project are you working on?

CB: Being new to the team I just try to help where needed. Right now I’m researching grants.

JW: Voices From Chornobyl is a multifaceted project. What is the one element you are most excited to see realized?

CB: I’m interested in spreading the VFC story to children and getting them involved and making them aware of what happened. Maybe if we can educate young people, they can take a stand against anything similar ever happening in the future.

JW: In your involvement so far what is the one thing you have learned about Chornobyl that you think more people should be aware of?

CB: Just of its devastating effects that are still present today. It’s terrifying but sometimes fear can spur us to action, to help prevent future accidents.

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