Are you ready for ... Chelsea Manning - The musical?

You know, I’ve tried to be a good and diligent blogger to the best of my ability. I follow the news, as depressing and/or inane as it often is, and cover the items I believe will be relevant and of interest to our readers in as much as possible. The headlines are just full of tales of zombie level virus outbreaks, mind numbing and repetitive election spin from the White House, candidates taking turns tripping over their own tongues… it’s enough to make you not want to get out of bed and turn on the televison some mornings. And through it all, I found myself wishing, hoping, wondering… can’t there be just one story out there that’s just for me? Something really right up my alley to brighten my day and reinvigorate my desire to sit down and write?

Well, sports fans, it seems that my wish has been granted.

New music production gives voice to WikiLeaks informant

A new artistic production aims to give new perspective on Chelsea Manning — serving a 35-year prison sentence for the biggest document leak in US — through an oppressive atmosphere of digital disorientation.

“The Source,” which premieres Wednesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, is described as a “multimedia oratorio” by its creators who acknowledge there is no exact term to describe their strikingly unique take on the WikiLeaks informant.

The production makes music out of primary source material — including a web chat in which Manning explained her actions, as well as excerpts from some of the 700,000 classified documents the former Army analyst handed to the WikiLeaks website.

My faith in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Great Pumpkin has been restored.

This production – don’t call it a musical, please – isn’t just inspired by the story of Chelsea Manning and the classified material he turned over to Julian Assange. It actually includes songs (if we’re allowed to use that word) in which the lyrics are excerpts from government documents and the performers’ voices are “digitally altered” to produce an effect of… er… something.

One song is an a cappella performance of a leaked memo from the US embassy in Islamabad, with a digitally distorted voice singing that then-leader Pervez Musharraf is trying “to construct an alliance of moderate Muslim states,” followed by the voice, interjecting in a lower pitch, a US diplomat’s assessment of the progress: “Disappointing.”

Now, I don’t know all that much about the theater and don’t really get down to Broadway all that often, but when I think of on stage production value, there’s very little more inspiring than a group of people with an Auto-Tune reciting the text of a a diplomatic memorandum. The promotional material also promises occasional rock and R&B interludes… about violent episodes during the Iraq war. I’m telling ya, this thing could make Cats completely obsolete.

“The Source” addresses the gender identity issue in the song “As a Boy, As a Boy,” in which a vocalist performs from Manning’s web chat with former hacker Adrian Lamo

I remember that when Ed Morrissey first tricked me into convinced me to watch Mama Mia, (with my wife as a willing partner) I was skeptical. And after I had watched it I was horrified. But now I think I’m seeing the light and realizing that I may have given this whole musical theater thing short shrift. I need to get on the phone with our boss and see if I can’t be dispatched down to New York with a good camera crew to cover this first hand. How could we miss out on such a defining cultural moment?