From May 14 – 19, the intimate Carousel Studio Space on Granville Island will play host to stories of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The Troika Collective‘s Chernobyl: the Opera, conceived and directed by Aliya Griffin and composed by Elliot Vaughan for accordion, cello, and seven voices, weaves physical precision and haunting melodies together with verbatim text taken from interviews with survivors of the disaster. The results are at once poignant and strangely beautiful.
If you’re wondering if you’ve heard of Chernobyl: the Opera before, it’s probably because you have. A shorter iteration of this piece was performed in last year’s Hive: the New Bees 2 to critical praise. The Georgia Straight’s Colin Thomas was impressed by composer Elliot Vaughan’s “sophisticated score” and called the piece’s execution “terrifically precise” (Georgia Straight theatre reviews, May 25, 2012). Following the success of New Bees 2, Griffin and Vaughan have added both to the cast and the music, filling out the sparseness of the New Bees version while maintaining its specificity and non-sentimental quality (I watched a short preview of Chernobyl: the Opera at a Troika Collective fundraiser two weeks ago and was very impressed with the changes I saw).
Chernobyl: the Opera will run from May 14 – May 19 in the Carousel Theatre Studio on Granville Island. Tickets for the May 15-19 performances are available online through Brown Paper Tickets.
The May 14 performance will be a pay-what-you-can preview, with all proceeds benefiting the Veronika Children Leukemia Foundation. Following the May 14 performance, Grigori Khaskin, Research Associate in the Biology Department at SFU and a former Chernobyl Liquidator, will be giving a talk.
All in all, Chernobyl: the Opera is an exciting new work from an exciting emerging theatre company. It is not to be missed.
Disclosure: I was a performer in the New Bees iteration of Chernobyl: the Opera. Though I am no longer involved in the project (and not because I was kicked out or anything scandalous, just boring time issues), many members of the Troika Collective are my friends. Friends or not, Chernobyl: the Opera is a damn good show by a company that has earned my respect and support.