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Thursday, 28 April 2016



PW-Philadelphia Weekly

Inis Nua's “The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning”
The drama of Radicalisation and of Manning was a fascination of Price's since Wikileaks, but, like many of us in 2010, the author couldn't quite ...

Inis Nua’s “The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning”

The drama of Rad­ic­al­isa­tion and of Man­ning was a fas­cin­a­tion of Price’s since Wikileaks, but, like many of us in 2010, the au­thor couldn’t quite un­der­stand what ex­actly was go­ing on.
Photo by Kory Aversa

Tom Re­ing, the artist­ic dir­ect­or of Inis Nua Theatre, is sit­ting in the back of The Drake in the dark. All that lights his face now is the glow of his dir­ect­ori­al team’s laptops and a gloomy blue hue em­an­at­ing from the small stage. With a wall of video mon­it­ors specked with im­ages of blood­shed and cam­ou­flage be­hind his act­ors and the sound of a live, mourn­ful vi­ol­in­ist be­fore them, Re­ing’s pens­ive, ab­stract con­cep­tu­al­iz­a­tion of The Rad­ic­al­isa­tion of Brad­ley Man­ning—an Amer­ic­an premiere for Welsh play­wright Tim Price—un­furls in a most un­usu­al fash­ion. With all of what Re­ing calls his “act­rons”—white, black, fe­male, male—tak­ing turns at play­ing Brad­ley and/or Chelsea Man­ning, the story of leak­ing 250,000 clas­si­fied mil­it­ary doc­u­ments to WikiLeaks finds it­self mix­ing fic­tion and fact, his peri­od in the armed forces, his youth in Ok­lahoma, his jail time as a wo­man and his teen years in West Wales. The lat­ter of these most in­terests the Ir­ish-Welsh theat­er maven Re­ing and the ho­met­own play­wright Price who says of Man­ning’s life-shap­ing time in Wales, that his coun­try has a long and rich rad­ic­al tra­di­tion. “All the things Con­ser­vat­ive politi­cians in the U.K. trump as ‘Brit­ish val­ues’ and they still all voted against those rights,” says Price. “It was work­ing men and wo­men from Wales, Scot­land and North of Eng­land who pro­tested, marched and were shot, killed and im­prisoned un­til even­tu­ally the Gov­ern­ment re­len­ted and gave us things like secrecy to vote, full eman­cip­a­tion, wages for politi­cians and wo­men’s right to vote. Maybe Chelsea didn’t have a choice but to do what she did, be­cause of where she came from.”

Re­ing didn’t know so very much about Man­ning bey­ond the head­lines. He laughs about how it takes a Welsh­man to read Amer­ica the ri­ot act, en­vies Lon­don’s The Guard­i­an for hav­ing Chelsea as a colum­nist (“trait­or here, hero there”) and thinks of Rad­ic­al­isa­tion as Inis Nua’s biggest pro­duc­tion yet in its his­tory, con­sid­er­ing its siz­able cast, crew, light­ing frip­pery and dash­ing fight cho­reo­graphy.
For Price however, Rad­ic­al­isa­tion is just an­oth­er for­ward-mov­ing walk in the politi­cized park for a writer steeped in protest marches, angry let­ters to the news­pa­pers and a child­hood spent in the Welsh Val­leys dur­ing the 1984-85 miners’ strike, “the closest the U.K. has got­ten to civil war in mod­ern his­tory,” he says.

Known primar­ily for the lithe I’m With the Band and smart, po­et­ic fam­ily dra­mas For Once and Salt, Root and Roe, his polit­ic­al muscle got its ini­tial dra­mat­ic workout when he came across Chelsea’s story. “Only then did I real­ize that maybe, my cre­at­ive out­put could also serve my polit­ic­al idea,” says Price.  

Price’s ori­gin­al pro­duc­tion of Rad­ic­al­isa­tion was per­formed in Chelsea’s old school in Wales, where part of the play is set. There, “lots of people who I have huge amounts of re­spect for” trav­elled to Wales to see the av­ant-garde the­at­ric­al; peace pro­test­ers like Ben Griffin (the founder of U.K. Vet­er­ans for Peace), and Ciaran O’Re­illy (a Plough­shares pro­test­er who dis­abled a B52 bomber and was im­prisoned for it). “They were im­me­di­ately on their feet when the lights came up and I will nev­er for­get that, be­cause these were people who spend their lives on pave­ments, hold­ing plac­ards and res­ist­ing as a way of life, rather than the rest of us who tweet and sign pe­ti­tions and don’t dis­rupt our lives for our ideas. They live their life the way Chelsea does, and so hav­ing their en­dorse­ment was a sig­ni­fic­ant event for me.”
On be­ing drawn to the art of the­at­ric­al dia­logue and his pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the fast fu­sion or furi­ous words, and rap­id fire con­ver­sa­tions, Price grace­fully con­fesses to be­ing a re­cov­er­ing stammer­er who has spent his life re­play­ing con­ver­sa­tions in his head. “The French have a phrase for it,” he says—‘l’es­prit de’scali­er’—the wit of the stairs, that feel­ing of know­ing ex­actly what you should have said after the event while you’re walk­ing down the stairs,” he re­calls. “I think maybe that’s been my feel­ing my whole life, and writ­ing dra­mat­ic­ally is some kind of com­pens­a­tion for that.”
The drama of Rad­ic­al­isa­tion and of Man­ning was a fas­cin­a­tion of Price’s since Wikileaks, but, like many of us in 2010, the au­thor couldn’t quite un­der­stand what ex­actly was go­ing on. “I was read­ing all these doc­u­ments … and didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate their value, un­til they re­leased the ‘Col­lat­er­al Murder’ video which Chelsea leaked.

Price was as stunned then, as play­go­ers will be next week. “This was evid­ence of state-sponsored murder, evid­ence that the U.S. mil­it­ary had lied about and covered up, and there was someone on the in­side try­ing the get the truth out. We are a cine-lit­er­ate gen­er­a­tion, so much of our con­sump­tion is the mov­ing im­age, a dry text-based firsthand ac­count of that killing would not have had the im­pact that video did. It was the jux­ta­pos­i­tion of sol­diers’ ac­tions with the cas­u­al nature of their words that was so chilling.”
The Rad­ic­al­isa­tion of Brad­ley Man­ning has much the same ef­fect as the truth. 

Through May 15. The Pro­scen­i­um Theatre @ The Drake, 203 S. Hicks St. inis­nuatheatre.org

source: http://philadelphiaweekly.com/2016/apr/27/inis-nuas-radicalisation-bradley-manning/#.VyHxAnn2bcs