On April 26, 1986 an explosion destroyed a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. As the government tried to cover up the catastrophe, people carried on with their lives as if nothing had happened – all the while inhaling gas from radioactive waste hanging in the air above their heads.
Voices From Chernobyl, at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre in May, is a moving account of how the Chernobyl tragedy changed the lives of the area’s people forever.
The play is adapted from the book by Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian writer who collected hundreds of stories from the victims of Chernobyl.
They are stories that reveal the carelessness of the government and the heroism of soldiers, but most of all the enormous human capacity to love and to care for each other in a time of crisis.
Recovery workers from all over the Soviet Union arrived at the site to clean the contaminated area. They had little idea of what kind of radiation they would be exposed to and what effect it was going to have.
More than 600,000 fire-fighters and emergency workers eventually put out the fire. Most of them worked without any protection and, as a result, became severely ill and disabled.
Over seven million people and 63,000 square miles of land were affected. The worst affected was Belarus, a small, unknown country hidden in the forests of Eastern Europe.
Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015.
Cast: Kim Christie, Julia Munrow, Oleg Sidorchik, Karina Knapinska, Helen Baranova and Lev Levermore
Voices From Chernobyl, by Germán D’Jesús, produced by Ténéré Arte, plays at the Brockley Jack from May 2-13.