DC Metro Theatre Arts


Who is the real Bradley Manning? Does anyone know? Can anyone know? These pressing and compelling questions ricochet today even in mainstream news media, which—more beholden to elites than to accuracy—filter reality but rarely sift out truth. Even among ostensibly progressive pols, Bradley Manning looms as an enigma—because they cannot shake the chastening fact he puts their compromised idealism to shame. (Full disclosure: I have publicly identified myself as a Bradley Manning supporter). Now comes Bradass87, a theater piece that offers a unique and fascinating front-row seat to history. Built around Manning’s own words and artfully compiled from documents on the public record Braadss87 delivers an audaciously up-close and first-person portrait that reveals how deeply the maligned young soldier himself was distressed by the question Who is Bradley Manning?

I’m not so much scared of getting caught and facing consequences at this point, as I am of being misunderstood, and never having the chance to live the life I wanted to. I’m way way way too easy to marginalize, I don’t like this person that people see. No one knows who I am inside.

The play is not a polemic meant to persuade doubters and haters. Nor is it simply a piece of agit prop intended to rouse and rally supporters (although excerpts have been performed as street theater in New York City). What Bradass87 actually is—in the version I saw at a staged reading in Washington, DC, August 17th—is an astute look through theater into the moral agony of a human being who, in real life and real time, has experienced his own existence as a U.S. citizen in extremis. He could not cut his conscience to fit the country’s war-and-deceit machine. Nor, as Bradass87 makes painfully clear, could he excise his true self to fit standard-issue masculinity.Bradass87 lays bare the convergence of those two points of conflict and resistance in Manning in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.

There is an insight here that could incite. Which is why it’ll never appear on the nightly news.

Ara Morton (left) and Matt Mezzacappa (Bradley Manning).

Ara Morton (left) and Matt Mezzacappa (Bradley Manning).

Claire Lebowitz is the prime mover of Bradass87 (which was the handle Manning used in instant-message chats). The concept was Lebowitz’s, she composed the pellucid script, and she directed the gripping DC reading in the basement performance space at The Universalist National Memorial Church (based on David Schweitzer’s direction of a staging at the Culture Project in New York City and bringing to DC the haunting sound design by Michael Feld and eye-popping video design by Kevin Brouder). The stark set (shown above in the NYC production) represented Bradley Manning’s cell, which came to feel ever more confining.

We’re human—and we’re killing ourselves—and no one seems to see that… and it bothers me. Apathy. Apathy is far worse than the active participation. I prefer the painful truth over any blissful fantasy.

The excellent DC cast featured Britton Herring, Joe Brack, Felipe Cabezas, and Frank Turner, as intimidating officers and coarse guards, and, in the daunting role of Manning, the exceptional Chris Dinolfo, who brought a virtuoso range of passion, pathos, terror, and queer charm. (To watch Dinolfo, in brutal incarceration, suddenly dance to a soundtrack of Lady Gaga—over whose CDs the real Manning secretly recorded a cache of intelligence—was simply a delight).

Lebowitz served as assistant to Judith Malina, the legendary founder of theLiving Theatre, who in 2007 directed a new production of the American classic The Brig, which I was fortunate to catch at the Living’s performance space on Clinton Street. As I watched Bradass87, I could hear, see, and feel echoes of Kenneth H. Brown’s script and the legacy of Malina’s masterful directionOne stage picture was particularly ominous: the small-framed detainee Manning stripped naked, harangued, and shamed by a phalanx of angry hypermacho thugs. Lebowitz had isolated for our gaze the authorized, male-pattern sadism that Manning has suffered. And as we learn vividly from Bradass87, that punishment has effectively been an ongoing Abu Ghraib.

Why are you doing this to me? Why am I being punished? I have done nothing wrong!

What have I done to deserve this type of treatment?!

There actually are answers to those questions in Bradass87. Answers that are a moral injury to Manning. And maybe to us all.

I’m isolated as fuck, my life is falling apart, and I don’t have anyone to talk to. It’s overwhelming—I’m not comfortable with myself, I’m in an awkward state and the weird part is…I love my job. I was very good at it. I wish this didn’t have to happen like this. I don’t think it’s normal for people to spend this much time worrying about whether they’re behaving masculine enough. I behave and look like a male, but it’s not ‘me’.

Bradley dissented from the criminal war machine and he dissented from regimental manhood. By rights he was a conscientious objector on both counts, fully entitled in the fullness of his humanity to opt out. But he didn’t know that because no one saw that, no one mentioned it to him, no one gave him the support and counsel thatBradass87 makes desperately clear he needed. So he could not, and did not, save himself. Instead, as Bradass87 shows, in his overweening idealism he did something surpassingly noble: He tried to save America from itself. He tried to rescue our foreign diplomacy from deceit. He actually tried to save other people’s lives.

Bradley Manning, U.S. Army.

Bradley Manning, U.S. Army.

For bringing this brave young man to life with a depth of understanding that, to my knowledge, no other medium has yet done, this theater-piece-in-progress deserves to live on and be seen.

For more information about Bradass87, see its blog or Facebook page or follow @bradass87ows on Twitter.

 

We created an exciting street performance to Free Bradley Manning to show our #BradleyPride in NYC, read this article by fellow organizer Elias Holtz in the huffington post and watch the video, we got a lot of support and reached thousands of people!

Freelance television producer; queer organizer with #BradleyPride NYC Coalition and the Freedom Socialist Party

Taking Pride in Bradley Manning (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/03/2013 1:04 pm

I have to admit I have a crush on Bradley Manning, and not just because he’s cute and gay and from Oklahoma. He gets mega-crush status because he’s not just a crush but my personal hero.

Bradley Manning is a 25-year-old, openly gay United States Army intelligence analyst who, while serving in Iraq, found evidence of crimes ranging from petty corruption to full-blown war crimes, like the killing of journalists in the infamous “Collateral Murder” video.

He saw this evidence and didn’t turn away from it. Instead, at great risk to himself, he released the files to the American public through Wikileaks, after being blown off by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Bradley felt that the truth was more important than his own safety or career, and for that he sits on trial. Imprisoned in Fort Meade, Md., he faces over 20 charges, including “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense.

That’s why I think he is a hero. He was the first major whistleblower in our new era of whistleblowers, having been cited by Edward Snowden (of NSA leak fame) as a source of personal inspiration.

Me too, Eddie. Bradley is my number-one whistleblower crush.

But it wasn’t my crush that motivated me to spend over two months organizing a big group of queers (and allies) to march for Bradley in the New York Pride Parade.

I was motivated more by the fact that Pride would come while Bradley was on trial and would be a huge opportunity to show that the LGBT community stands with Bradley and his actions. I knew that we could rally tens of thousands behind his case in New York City alone. LGBT people know how brave one has to be to speak the truth. We back up people who speak out.

The effort became national, and we coordinated with #BradleyPride contingents in Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco.

In New York, our plans were for a big, bold message of freedom for Bradley. We designed a moving performance piece in which a battalion of soldiers guarded a mobile jail cell imprisoning an actor playing Bradley. Behind the cage was a 12-foot-tall golden puppet of Lady Justice, with scores of Bradley supporters wielding a sea of pink flags that read “#BradleyPride.”

We were joined by over a dozen veterans’, queer, and anti-war groups that had enthusiastically signed on. Transgender activists came to emphasize the important point that Bradley has questioned his gender but is unable to express it while incarcerated. All of us were backed by the infamous radical marching band The Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

As we marched down a crowd-lined Fifth Avenue, our director Claire signaled with a whistle for Lady Justice to bring down her giant puppet-sword on Bradley’s cage. The flag-wielding Bradley supporters then mobbed the jail cell, pulling it apart to free our Bradley actor, revealing a huge “Free Bradley Manning” banner that spanned three traffic lanes.

The reaction from the crowd was incredible. They cheered and whistled when faux-Bradley was freed to salute them and dance to his liberation. Then, when the soldiers rearrested Bradley and put him back in his cell, they booed. They were pissed. They wanted Bradley to be free.
Cops on parade duty stood surprised as we performed our big gay street skit and busted Bradley out of jail again and again. It had just enough Stonewall rebellion attitude thrown in, I think. The crowds of LGBT New Yorkers were feelin’ it.

Donations to Bradley’s defense fund came pouring in from the crowd, and even the head drag queen emcee (hard to impress, no doubt) was delighted and called our performance “genius.”

Enthusiasm came from many places. At the end of the march, we were breaking Bradley out of jail to an audience of mostly young LGBT people of color, who tend to have legitimate beef with incarceration of any kind.

Mainly, however, I would guess that the crowd reacted so strongly because, as a community, we so desperately need victories against the powers that be.

Don’t we all love to think that we can have an impact like that? That we can free someone unjustly imprisoned? That if we speak out about an injustice, we can force even the most deaf and callous of governments to right their wrongs?

Never the cynic (especially at Pride), I think we can have a big impact. We had so much of New York cheering for Bradley and his freedom that it felt pretty damn powerful.

That day at Pride, my crush for Bradley Manning turned into a crush on my local queer community, who proved to me that they are ready to back Bradley, ready to defend one of our own, a gay soldier who sits on trial for taking a stand for the truth.

GIF from #BradleyPrideNYC

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especially at this time during Bradley Manning’s trial we were very excited to be performing a section from Bradass87 at this important event, to stand with and support our heroic whistleblowers and act from our conscience. We joined Mike Daisey, Ray McGovern and Heidi Boghosian president of the National Lawyers Guild in the program.

performed by: Ben Baur, Matthew Hillyer, Jeff Nash

video: Kevin Brouder

sound: Michael Feld

script: Bradley Manning (composed and directed by Claire Lebowitz)

Emergency Forum Wednesday June 19:
We Will Not Be Complicit… We DO NOT Consent!

No Government Spying on Whole Populations.
Hands Off Snowden & Manning.
Close Guantanamo NOW.
7pm The Great Hall, Cooper Union 7 E. 7th Street New York City: details here.

We will not be Complicit… We DO NOT Consent!

Emergency Forum Wednesday June 19

Through an act of tremendous courage and self-sacrifice, Edward Snowden has revealed the most massive government spying in history into the communications and activities of billions of people on the planet.

If you are outraged by these revelations, by the trampling on fundamental rights, and by the war crimes being carried out in our name–you need to be at Cooper Union this Wednesday night.

Evening of Conscience at Cooper Union for Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and the prisoners at Guantanamo
This will be an evening of conscience, with speakers and performers. An evening to deepen understanding of what is going and why… and to declare that WE MUST RESIST.

We are at a potentially pivotal moment. People are raising their heads and looking to express their opposition. But the powers that be are now engaging in high-stakes damage control: to frighten people into submission and to tell people not to worry, just go along with “the new normal.” No, we will not be complicit, we do not consent, we take responsibility to act.

On May 23, World Can’t Wait published the Close Guantanamo NOW message in The New York Times as a full page ad.  It says, in part:

“In the name of safety, fear, or revenge, American presidents cannot be allowed to arrogate to themselves the power of judge, jury and executioner. Actions that utilize de facto torture, that run roughshod over the rule of law and due process, and that rain down terror and murder on peoples and nations, amount to war crimes. Such actions cannot in any way be morally justified in the name of “protecting Americans.” The lives of people living here are not more precious than any other people’s lives.”

History demands that we follow through on this stand. Join us!

The Great Hall 7 E. 7th Street

Sponsored by World Can’t Wait (866) 973-4463 nyc@worldcantwait.net
Co-sponsored by Continuing Education Department, Cooper Union
Free Bradley Manning NYC Pride Coalition
Granny Peace Brigade
Metro Raging Grannies
Revolution Books
I Stand With Edward Snowden
Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, Greenville, SC

An action on April 6th 2013 on top of the Empire State Bldg. and the Staten Island Ferry in support of Bradley #Manning w/ Fatima Jafari, Claire Lebowitz, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Jodie Evans, Andy Bichlbaum, #CODEPINK, #YESMEN, Cari Machet.

Bradley Manning has been held by U S authorities far longer than any other prisoner without due process. His trial, set to begin on June 3rd, is an injustice to all, as the system overprosecutes him and many others to protect itself against the truth, while insider war criminals walk free in this tiered and broken legal system. If we utilize the frames of the state Bradley Manning is a Prisoner of War: a war being raged on the ethical consciousness of mankind. A war being raged on the very consciousness of life itself.

http://www.worldcantwait.net/

http://www.bradleymanning.org/

http://bradass87.wordpress.com/

@bradass87ows

Video  —  Posted: May 2, 2013 by mutantlegalnyc in Uncategorized
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Bradass87 reading at Culture Project Monday 12/17 (Bradley's 25th birthday!)

What: Free reading of a new play on Bradley Manning’s Birthday. 

Where: 45 Bleecker St (at Lafayette) Manhattan, New York

When: 8pm

We are marking the day with a presentation of a fascinating and revealing new work, BRADASS87, comprised mainly of the actual chat logs that led to Manning’s arrest in Iraq for allegedly leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, sections from the transcripts of the ongoing pre-trial hearings, and testimony of his treatment under confinement. We think this can be a fascinating window into Bradley Manning and his actions and throw some light on the complexities of this case and on core attitudes towards freedom of information and secrecy in our society.

There will be a presentation afterwards with Chase Madar, constitutional lawyer and author of “The Passion of Bradley Manning”

Bradass87 reading at the Culture Project Artistic Dir Allan Buchman

45 Bleecker St (corner of Bleecker and Lafayette St), Manhattan, New York

cast
Ben Baur- Bradley Manning
Neal Hemphill- Commander Averhart
guards:
Scot Charles Anderson
Kaolin Bass
Jeff Nash
Evan True

directed by David Schweizer
written from documentary sources by Claire Lebowitz
sound design by Michael Feld

Image  —  Posted: December 14, 2012 by bradass87 in Uncategorized

made by jailhousetapes

Video  —  Posted: December 13, 2012 by bradass87 in Uncategorized

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starring Sean Patrick Monohan, Ara Morton, Jeff Nash filmed by Lauren Greenberg sound by Michael Feld directed by Claire Lebowitz

Video  —  Posted: November 26, 2012 by bradass87 in Uncategorized

Image

Originally posted on WISE Up Action - A Solidarity Network for Manning and Assange:

Update:Marking the anniversary in Wales

Wednesday 25 July is the second Anniversary of the release by WikiLeaks of the Afghan War Diaries.

These diaries provided indisputable evidence about the real nature of the futile and bloody ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Yet, two years later:

  • The war in Afghanistan continues.
  • The death toll continues to rise.
  • Bradley Manning remains in pretrial detention
  • Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in fear of his life if extradited to the US (via Sweden or directly from Britain)

Call for action on 25 July

The Bradley Manning Support Network has issued a call-out for action everywhere to mark this anniversary.

This collection of military documents stands in stark contrast to the [US] government’s public statements on the war in Afghanistan — a war characterized by overwhelming civilian casualties and a culture of secrecy far exceeding what’s needed to…

View original 205 more words

Dixon Place Presents Bradass87 on June 30th

Posted: June 23, 2012 by bradass87 in Uncategorized

Bradley Manning has been imprisoned for over 760 days without trial for trying to show us the truth.

Press: Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lanie-zipoy/trafficking-play_b_1574774.html

William Gilson of the NYC 34th Chapter of Veterans for Peace said after seeing the full reading at Judson Church:

“was privileged to have seen the play at Judson — found it to be moving and honest. It must be seen by all. The message has to get out. It is a sensitive portrayal of Pvc.Manning.”
Bill Gilson, Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 NYC

On Saturday June 30th at 7:30pm Dixon Place presents a section from Bradass87 a new play in development about accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning set in solitary confinement at Quantico Marine Corp Brig using the actual chat logs which led to his arrest in Iraq as text.
There will also be an after-show talk by Chase Madar.
Chase Madar is an attorney in New York and the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History. He writes for the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, The National Interest, The American Conservative (which he can explain) and TomDispatch.

Tickets are $12 in advance at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/915527 /$15 at the door/ $10 for students and seniors
Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St. between Rivington and Delancey, New York, NY

The Dixon Place Lounge is open before, during and after the show. Proceeds directly support Dixon Place’s artists and mission.