The cutting edge of theatre
— Dylan Moore, ArtsDesk

Bradley Manning is the 25-year old US soldier accused of releasing 250,000 secret embassy cables and military logs from the Iraq and Afghan wars. After more than three years in prison without charge, Manning is now awaiting his sentence, having been found guilty of crimes that could mean life in prison. But just a few years ago, he was a teenager in west Wales. How did this happen? And who is responsible for his radicalisation?

In August 2013, National Theatre Wales took their critically-acclaimed show The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Katherine worked on redesigning the livestream of the production to improve the experience for the digital viewers. You can read a full report of the production on Culture Hive: Lessons in Livestreaming from Katherine Jewkes at National Theatre Wales

Katherine explained how what they had learnt during the first performances of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning meant they were able to make some improvements to the live stream of the Fringe production, “We went from SD quality cameras to HD quality and whereas originally the live stream was only a desktop experience, for Edinburgh it was also viewable on mobiles and tablets. It transpired subsequently that over 20% of our viewers were watching on mobile.”

There was a chat function within the live stream that allowed viewers to comment on and discuss the production. There were also guest ‘hosts’ on the live stream chat who facilitated the discussion each night, adding their unique perspective on the show. Alexa O’Brien, the journalist who provided an extensive archive of the only available transcripts of Manning’s closed trial, hosted the most popular night. TROBM’s Writer, Tim Price, joined her on the chat.

We also used the new livestream.com ‘feed’ feature as a links system, it worked like a Facebook page in that we were able to post links to background information and source material about Bradley’s life which the audience could then read and share with their networks as the show was live. From our stats, we could see that this is a popular feature of the experience, with 70% of viewers clicking through to the links.

All three features of the live stream (live feed, chat and links system) were embeddable as a complete package onto other sites, which NTW took advantage of. In order to take the live stream to a potentially wider audience, the entire broadcast was embedded on NTW’s Facebook page, their online community and on a separate night, on the Huffington Post website.

— Katie Moffat for Culture Hive - Lessons in Livestreaming from Katherine Jewkes at National Theatre Wales.
  • Over 6,500 audience members watched the Bradley Manning live stream from 1,269 cities in 103 countries. 56% of the audience were based in the UK, while other considerable audience bases could be found the US, Germany, Japan, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and Australia.
  • When watching the real time stats, we could see that there was an audience member in Portland (US) watching at the same time as someone in Port Talbot (Wales).
  • 20% of the audience watched on mobile or tablet devices, on a variety of over 60 devices.
  • From feedback on the chat, we found out that one audience member in Australia was watching via mobile phone while on a bus! During the three weeks of streaming to Livestream.com, NTW built up a new network of nearly 4,000 followers on the platform (this was the first time they'd used the site).

Read more about the making of the production at Culture Hive  - Lessons in Livestreaming from Katherine Jewkes at National Theatre Wales