World’s Best Radio Programmes: A Gold Medal for Francisco, dedicated to Chelsea Manning

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The Manning Truthfest held last January in Pembrokeshire, home county of Chelsea Manning’s Welsh-Irish family, was the brainchild of Donal O’Kelly who is pictured above making a presentation to Chelsea’s uncle Kevin at the event. Truthfest helped build strong links between the family and Chelsea’s supporters in Ireland and Wales.

Donal’s play Francisco has just won the Gold Medal for Best Drama Special in the 2014 New York Festival of World’s Best Radio Programs, to follow the Prix Europa for Best Radio Drama Serial it won in Berlin and the creative team of Francisco has dedicated the gold medal to Chelsea Manning.


The team issued the following statement:

In our drama, Francisco, a soldier of 16th century Spanish imperialism, comes to value truth above blind obedience. The creative team of Francisco dedicate the Gold Medal for Best Drama Special in the New York Festival of World’s Best Radio Programs to Chelsea Manning.

– Actors Jaimie Carswell, Sorcha Fox [also involved in Truthfest], Darina Gallagher and Des Braiden, composer/musicians Dee Armstrong, Rossa Ó Snodaigh, Colm O Snodaigh and Seanan Brennan, sound supervisor Ray Duffy, and writer/director Donal O’Kelly.

Writer, director and producer of Francisco, Donal O’Kelly has said:

I don’t know if it’s a first ever, but it’s certainly a rare event for a drama serial to win both a Prix Europa in Berlin and a Gold Medal at the New York Radio Festival, the two most prestigious radio drama awards in the world. We are all very pleased to dedicate our New York gold medal to jailed US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, whose brave advocacy of truth is an example to us all.

Francisco De Cuellar, a Spanish Armada captain, wrote an account of his Irish experiences through the harsh winter of 1588-89. The radio music-drama serial is inspired by this letter, and is a mixture of narration, music, rhythm, dialogue in four languages (English, Irish, Spanish and Latin), performed poetry, a wide-ranging soundscape and a subversive epic storyline.

You can listen to the three part play here (Click on the picture).

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Here at the Manning Family Fund and WISE Up, we are very grateful for all the wonderful support shown towards Chelsea and her family; this ranges from financial donations to help the family with travel costs, to solidarity actions and events that keep Chelsea’s name and cause alive and resonating in the public’s mind.

So, big thanks to the Francisco team for this moving and important dedication. Pictured below: Sorcha Fox, one of the lead actors in the play, displays a banner on a bridge in Haverfordwest during Truthfest.

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