Playwright Stan Richardson, whose recent Off-Broadway play Private Manning Goes to Washington imagines a secret meeting between transgender Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning and President Barack Obama, has released a statement in response to the President’s January 17 announcement that he was commuting the remainder of Manning’s 35-year sentence.
“I called the play Private Manning Goes to Washington, because I believed that President Obama owed Chelsea, who is serving the harshest prison sentence an American whistleblower has ever received, a chance to at least explain the nature of her transgressions,“ Richardson explained in a statement sent to the press. “I was not so idealistic to expect it to happen, but I had to believe that such a gesture of mercy was possible. I am overjoyed at the President's decision to commute Chelsea's sentence and I hope it's the harbinger of a greater popular appreciation for transparency as our country enters a terrifying era of funhouse mirrors and brute force.”
Manning is a former intelligence analyst in Iraq who was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act after disclosing sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Manning began publicly identifying as a woman in August 2013, the day after her sentencing, and began to undergo a difficult gender transition in a male military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In his final days in office, Obama announced the commutation of Manning’s sentence, allowing her to walk free on May 17.
Private Manning Goes to Washington received a limited, site-specific run in New York at The Studio at 345 in 2016 presented by The Representatives. The show was billed as a “timely and trenchant new play about the power of theatre to create empathy, understanding, and justice in an age of virtual realities and manufactured truths.”
A shorter version of the play was presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it garnered positive reviews from critics. The play is written and co-directed by Richardson, with co-direction by Matt Steiner.
For more information on Private Manning Goes to Washington visit therepresentatives.org.