~ Posted by Robert Butler, April 19th 2012
It's the part of the story most people don't know. The year after Susan Manning divorced her husband, she left Oklahoma with her 13-year-old son, Bradley, and moved back to Wales. They lived in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire and Bradley went to the Tasker Milward school. At 17, he returned to America, joining the army in 2007, where his IT skills led to a job as an intelligence analyst. Most people know the next bit: in May 2010 Bradley Manning was arrested on suspicion of passing on 250,000 diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.
The youngish Welsh playwright Tim Price has written a play that moves between Bradley's teenage years in Wales and his solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, while also weaving in famous radical moments in Welsh history that might have influenced him. "The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning" had its previews at Tasker Milward last week (Manning's mother was in the audience). This week it's performed at Cardiff High School, and next week at Connah's Quay High School.
These may sound like improbable locations for a play staged by the National Theatre of Wales, but the company performs all round Wales, indoors and outdoors. Their production last year of Aeschylus's "The Persians", for instance, was staged in a deserted village owned by the Ministry of Defence. But you won't need to be in the school hall to watch tonight's performance. You can follow CCTV footage of the production through Adobe Flash Player and this live webstream gives additional links for background information.
More and more theatres, opera houses and concert halls are picking up new audiences by live streaming their work. I learnt about this play thanks to a tweet on my mobile this morning from a fellow contributor to Intelligent Life. That tweet linked to an arts website which carried a four-star review of the play by someone who had seen the production on his computer last night. If you go to the production's own website and type in your email address, you are offered a Time Zone Converter and an email will be sent out reminding you when the performance is about to start. At 7.30pm this evening I'll be part of a global audience at a contemporary night at the theatre.
Robert Butler is online editor of Intelligent Life