Charles Manson and the subtle art of radicalisation

 by Dr. Scott Welsh

LA MAMA FARADAY STREET, CARLTON sept 29th – oct 9th, 2016

wednesday 8:30pm Thursday 6:30 PM; friday 8:30pm; SATurday 6:30 PM sunday 6:30pm


the piece

“I’ve ate out of your garbage cans.”
“I’ve wore your second-hand clothes.”
“I done my best to get along in your world.”

Charles Manson and the Subtle Art of Radicalisation explores the myth of a man excluded from society who bit back at the establishment.

His life and fate foreshadows the perils of a culture that casts aside the unwanted and undesired. Manson and his family’s reign of terror continue to embody our worst fears and linger in our collective consciousness.

This piece of theatre takes you to the dark recesses of Manson’s psyche and our realisation that there is no division between us and them. Rather, we are all just scared, lonely, little children left to our own devices.


Written by: dr. Scott Welsh

Directed by: kylie gral

dramaturg: ezy. d

Manson potrait: ez.y d

Sadie/susan atkins: emma cox

Squeaky fromme: romina verdiglone

anna: jaz wickson

black manson/wanda/bobby seale: Ezekiel Day

manson: Scott Welsh

Pigasus: Cherian Jacob

stage manager/lighting and sound: kylie gral

music curation: ezy. d

Photographed by Richard Mclean

Click here to view the entire album


note from dr. scott welsh:


"Manson is like the ultimate post-modern being. His life doesn't even pretend to be linear, like being born, living, growing, dying...It's like the womb, then darkness, prison, torment, more darkness. Then the lights go on and like he says there's a bohemian reality, then the lights go out and when they go on again, it's a beatnik reality, then it's darkness for another decade and it's the hippy thing. Then he lives in that fantasy for a time until he puts a stop to that and it's dark again and it stays so to the present day...and now all he is is parody and artifice. He's a painting of himself and any time anyone looks at him now, all they see is blobs of paint....."

The concept for this piece originates from an unhealthy obsession with the Manson family, shared by many of my own and the previous generation, and fuelled by pop culture. I found myself googling, watching, reading everything there was to read. I leafed through a book at an airport, Coming Down Fast, by Simon Wells and was haunted by Manson’s voice. As I listened incessantly to the words of Manson, coming at me from every medium, I began to wonder how much of the blame for these crimes could be attributed to a ‘culture of exclusion’? I felt like a kindred spirit, a Mansonite because somewhere I felt like one of society’s displaced children. When we find ourselves on the fringes of society because we have been cast out and rejected from family, jobs, education, etc., sometimes dangerous ideas flourish.

 I began to explore such ideas through researching the voices of social radicals such as Manson, Susan Atkins and I connected these with a past obsession with Black Panther Bobby Seale. I then collaborated with Dramaturg Ezekial Day and Director Kylie Gral in a creative process through which my own philosophical reflections were transformed into a dramatic play. Two new characters were introduced and the idea of utilising Manson to speak more generally about the phenomenon of radicalisation or current, emerging sub-cultures became the central theme.

 The writing process involved hearing the piece read by several actors over a number of years, including the current cast. The script is in a continuous process of evolution, partly because the director and I, with the producer and ultimately the cast, have come to see the Manson phenomenon not as merely a historical or social event or phenomenon but as medium through which we can speak about our own alienation, exclusion and even the contemporary phenomenon of radicalisation or a call to arms.