A Post-Electric Play

Dramaturg Ann Marley shares what the world will look like after electricity below!

What’s Happening in the MR. BURNS Apocalypse? 


The initial problem in this apocalypse is the collapse of the electronic grid. The loss of electricity would see the deaths of thousands. We need electricity for water and can only survive for three days without it. If you can’t figure out how to collect your own water and clean it, you would die from dehydration. Millions of people would die from this alone. Because farmers, delivery services, and the businesses where food is prepared all use electricity, this system would deteriorate. The grocery stores would be looted within hours, leaving only natural resources to survive on. Likewise, many of our cooking appliances need electricity, so cooking would be another obstacle. Since fridges would no longer work, food could not be stored long term.

Hospital electricity would shut down as well. Those relying on medication and machinery to keep them alive would die. In the winter, the elderly would freeze without heating systems. Civil panic becomes a problem as well. People would begin rioting and being violent out of desperation. Because emergency services have been rendered useless (transportation is limited as electricity is required to get gas from the pumps, phone lines are down, etc.), chaos ensues. As the use of propane and candles would increase dramatically for lighting, accidental fires spread with no means to extinguish them.


When a nuclear plant or bomb explodes, a flash comes first, causing temporary blindness for several minutes. Depending on your distance from the blast and its size, you will experience thermal radiation. With a one megaton nuclear bomb, people within a 6.8 mile radius will suffer first degree burns, 6.2 miles will suffer second degree burns, and those within 5 miles will sustain third degree burns or die. Outside of the heat from the blast, the explosion will create a push of air with wind speeds so powerful (up to 466 miles/hour) that they can destroy buildings. Deaths not caused by burns will be the result of buildings and other objects collapsing on or colliding with them. After the initial explosion, the radiation from the blast can kill you within days or cause genetic mutations and cancer.

Fallout is what you see in a mushroom cloud. Dirt particles are thrown into the air, become radiative, and fall back to the earth. Fallout can travel for hundreds of miles, and is difficult to detect. Those who stay inside are much more likely to resist effects of radiation from fallout. Within two weeks, fallout loses most of its radiation.


If your body withstands a large dose of radiation, you develop Acute Radiation Poisoning. Poisoning is measured by units of Grays (Gy).

  • 0.35-1 Gy: Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, and fever.
  • 1-4 Gy: Blood cells begin to die, causing a weakened immune system. Other symptoms include uncontrollable bleeding, anemia, and a sunburn called acute radiodermatitis. Within 24 hours, acute radiodermatitis manifests in red patches, peeling skin, and blistering. Recovery requires blood transfusions and antibiotics.
  • 3 Gy: Symptoms include temporary hair loss and damage to nerve cells and the digestive tract.
  • 4-8 Gy: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and fever. This level of poisoning can be fatal within a few weeks.
  • 8-30 Gy: Symptoms include nausea and severe diarrhea within an hour. This level of poisoning can is fatal within 2 days and 2 weeks.
  • 30+ Gy: Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, and unconsciousness within minutes. Neurological damage causes seizures, tremors, ataxia, and the loss of control of voluntary muscle function. It is fatal within 48 hours.

Longterm Exposure: Symptoms include genetic mutation, cancer, fertility problems, loss of hair, heart problems, and cataracts. Studies suggest that low-level, longterm exposure effects to most people.

  • You will need batteries, a radio, food, water, and flashlights. Make a plan with your family members in advance if you’d like to find each other when it is safe to travel.
  • During the blast, concrete will protect you the most. Going into a basement or the center of a building will shield you from the blast. Stay away from windows.
  • If you are outside, you will see the flash first. Immediately get onto the ground facedown and cover your head with your hands.
  • Do not look at the blast.
  • You have 30 minutes to find fallout shelter. The thicker the roof and walls the better. Block all of the windows. Wait for two weeks with as much food and water as possible.
  • Take off your clothes and seal them in a plastic bag. They are contaminated with radiation. Take a shower, but do not use conditioner, as that will bond the radiation to your skin. Do not scratch or scrub your skin.
  • Read more here.
  • Limerick Generating Station, Pottstown, PA:  25 miles
  • Salem Nuclear Power Plant, Lower Alloways, NJ: 50 miles
  • Oyster Creek Generating Station, Forked River, NJ: 75 miles
  • Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Generating Station, Delta, PA: 75 miles
  • Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Generating Station, Middletown, PA: 100 miles

There are 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 99 nuclear reactors in 30 U.S. states and 449 nuclear reactors in 30 countries worldwide and 60 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.