The playwright behind the stage drama about Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning has won a major new award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Welsh writer Tim Price has scooped the inaugural £10,000 James Tait Black Prize for Drama – part of the UK’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black Prize – for his play The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning.
The production, which was premiered in Wales last year by National Theatre Wales and is now running in Edinburgh, focuses on the story of Haverfordwest-raised US soldier Manning who was last week found guilty of spying – but acquitted of aiding the enemy – and is now awaiting sentence. He was accused of releasing 250,000 secret embassy cables and military logs from the Iraq and Afghan wars.
The shortlist of five productions – chosen from more than 180 plays – in the running for the award included Kaite O’Reilly’s In Water I’m Weightless, which was also staged by NTW.
“I am thrilled to be recognised by such a prestigious award, and honoured to be chosen as winner from such a fantastic shortlist of plays,” said Price, who is from Aberdare.
“That it is the first time a category for drama has been added to the James Tait Black Prizes is even more exciting.”
Like its tour of Wales, The Edinburgh run of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is being staged inside a real classroom rather than a traditional theatre as that’s where the action unfolds.
There’s a strong digital element to the production, which picked up three awards at the inaugural Theatre Critics of Wales Awards in January – Best Director (for John McGrath), Best Use of Digital/Online Content and Best Ensemble.
But it’s also being updated for Edinburgh audiences as the latest real-life events unfold from the American courtroom.
Once again it’s being directed by NTW’s artistic director McGrath.
“I’m delighted that Tim has won this award, and for such a wonderful script,” he said.
“His thorough research, political savvy and above all his compassion are evident when you read this play, and typical of the kind of bold writing for which Tim is becoming known.
“The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is a play that shows the vibrant, rule-breaking health of theatre writing in Wales today. It’s also been a pleasure for me to direct, and I’m very glad the judges admired it as much as I did.”
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is not the only play by Price being staged in Edinburgh this year.
His new drama, I’m With Band, is a co-production between the Wales Millennium Centre and Traverse Theatre.
It marks the festival fringe debut of Cardiff Bay’s iconic arts venue, the WMC, which has made a name for staging West End productions but is now branching out into producing shows.
It features an Englishman, a Northern Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman who form successful indie band The Union.
When financial disaster strikes and Scottish guitarist Barry leaves the band, artistic differences go head to head with alliances that run deep. Can The Union survive? I’m With The Band will be staged in London at the end of August before going on a UK tour.
Both of Price’s plays are among three Welsh shows which have been taken to Edinburgh as part of the British Council’s showcase. The third is Bianco from Cardiff-based NoFit State Circus.
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is the second play that NTW has staged at the fringe.
In 2011, the company made its Edinburgh debut with The Dark Philosophers.
Don’t miss Friday’s Western Mail for Karen Price’s review of the Welsh in Edinburgh