Posts Tagged ‘ Bradley Manning ’


The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning


On the 30th of July 2013 twenty four year old Bradley Manning was sentenced to ninety years in prison for divulging military secrets and his part in the Wikileaks scandal which allegedly placed US military personnel as well as the American public in grave danger although no evidence to confirm this has ever been conclusively proved.

 Stepping into the venue we are advised to follow the arrows and immediately we enter a warren-like space taking the shape of a military base with sleeping quarters, shooting ranges, computer and technology areas all overlaid with the rousing sound of call and response military cadence eventually leading us into the main hall, busy with fatigued personnel, where the sound of distant gunfire and Tower of Babble-like voices indicate we are now in a war zone. It is an impressive atmospheric start to what must be the most up to the minute intense, exhilarating, awesome piece of contemporary and relevant theatre on the Fringe this year.

 Produced by National Theatre Wales( Manning spent his teenage years in Wales after his parents divorced) the cast have interchangeable roles with Manning’s persona denoted by a pair of glasses which are shared out amongst several cast members to signify different facets of this complex character. Imaginatively directed by John E. McGraph, who makes good use of the surroundings which play a role all of their own, he manoeuvres the small but flexible cast- Matthew Aubrey, Naomi Everson, Harry Ferrier, Michael Gilhooly, Gwawr Leader and Kyle Rees- through their paces and Tim Price’s script with an appropriately military precision.

 It is certainly an enthralling piece of theatre and Manning’s displacement began around the time of his move to Wales where he clearly felt set apart. Openly gay, he was pressurised into the army by a domineering father who hoped it would make a man of him. This was not to be the case and Manning started to look into gender re-assignment and the treatment he suffered at the hands of his colleagues- severe taunting and brutal beatings-can’t have done much to improve his loyalty to a military service he already viewed as corrupt and morally wrong.

 Matters only worsened when several pieces of footage showing the slaying of innocent civilians fell onto his radar and disgusted by the subsequent cover up he leaked the information and found himself accused of treason by one side and hailed a hero from another. Basically all he did was tell the truth about war in the 21st century and expose the US government and military as the hypocrites many only previously believed or imagined they were. Manning merely handed them the proof.

This is an absorbing, demanding,impressive and excellently executed piece of drama which could not be more current if it tried. It is extremely serious but less anxious moments  are inserted at crucial moments- Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ provides a relief from the tension whilst maintaining the intention and takes on a whole new poignancy I would never previously have afforded it- and it is all encompassing as the drama seems to unfold from every crevice of the building. This is THE major drama of this year’s Fringe and it raises the bar for everyone else.


The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning is showing at Pleasance St. Thomas of Aquins School at 7.30pm until August 25th



We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks


Surrounded in hype, recriminations , accusations and clouded truths, when the scandal surrounding Wikileaks- a website intent on revealing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of the twenty first century- and its founder, Julian Asssange, broke it was hard to decipher any semblance of the truth. With one faction claiming the documents which were leaked were in the interest of the public, the other denied this and counteracted the very same information placed the public, and whole countries, in severe danger.

The truth is hardly any clearer after watching this documentary by Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney, which admittedly falls on the side of Assange and his organisation, but what is clear that accusations of a smear campaign against Wikileaks and its founder are lent a considerable amount of gravitas whilst those who went out their way to destabilise their credibility-including some of the most powerful people in the world- are left looking rather suspect.

 The leading cast in this tale include the formerly named Assange- a blonde haired Australian hell bent on discovering the truth about the war in Iraq- a teenage hacker and Bradley Manning, a gender confused American soldier serving in Iraq with access to highly sensitive documents and footage. Without thinking of the consequences Manning shared this classified information with Wikileaks and to this day still languishes as a detainee in jail even though he has never actually had a trial convicting him of any specific crime.

 Assange on the other hand was briefly awarded rock star status when he leaked the contents of the documents on his site but this small victory was soon snatched from him when two accusations of rape in Sweden arose. These is where things get rather cloudy and off balance as the accusations of rape seem to come from two women who had consensual sex with Assange but one freaked out when the condom broke during the act whilst the other claimed he never used one. This led to claims he may have impregnated them or shared a S.T.D. and  a warrant was issued for his arrest. When he refused to take an HIV test the charges were immediately changed to rape and thus the conspiracy theories about a smear campaign began.

 At this juncture a media campaign to discredit Assange and Wikileaks-interestingly the Guardian and New York Times who shared the information he provided were absolved of any blame- began and in one of the films many incidences of black humour the phrase ‘he has blood on his hands ‘is trotted out ad infinitum via various major news stories around the globe as if to detract from the real issue at hand; war crimes being committed in Iraq.

These war crimes provide some of the most shocking images in the film and early on we are shown a helicopter attack on innocent civilians and Reuter journalists after one carrying a camera with a long lens is mistaken for a Militia with an Ak47. What is almost as shocking as the horror of this footage is the clearly audible laughter, sheer flippancy and derogatory remarks emanating from the attackers about the dead bodies they have left on the ground. Further footage showing innocent families and children being slaughtered-either through carelessness or incorrect intelligence- is equally unsettling and Assange’s claims that this is what the public need to know about the realities of war start to make a lot more sense than the counter argument that knowing and seeing such things places us all in greater danger.

 A fascinating and revealing insight into a recent scandal- Assange is still under house arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy-this documentary provides very few answers but it does raise a hell of a lot of questions.