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The man behind the maths; He was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch on the big screen and now codebreaker Alan Turing's story is being told on the stage. But, as director Angharad Lee tells Karen Price, they were keen to bring another side to the story.

WHILE Alan Turing is famous for being the mathematician who tried to crack the enigma code during World War II, his personal life also made headlines.

For the cryptanalyst was prosecuted in 1952 for 'homosexual acts' when it was still a criminal offence in the UK. He accepted treatment with oestrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison but died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning.

Now a new stage drama from Welsh theatre company Scriptography Productions is focusing on the man behind the codebreaking who refused to live a lie and was turned into a hero after his death.

To Kill A Machine was penned by playwright Catrin Fflur Huws and will open in Aberystwyth next week for a Welsh tour before travelling to London and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

It follows worldwide support from a crowdfunding campaign, which raised PS8,000 from supporters as far away as New Zealand, Germany and the US.

To Kill a Machine features a cast of four, including Gwydion Rhys as Turing and it tells the heartbreaking story of a man who was vilified for his sexuality and suicide but resurrected to hero status after his death.

The play was originally piloted during the 2012 centenary celebrations for Turing's birth at Swansea University. It had been created as a short piece as part of the Sherman Cymru and Aberystwyth Arts Centre Spread the Word project before being developed into a full length version by Scriptography Productions with the support of Aberystwyth Arts Centre's Open Platform Scheme.

The centenary year celebrations and the government pardon brought Turing's life-story to the attention of more people but it is the recent film, The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, has finally seen him become a household name.

But the team behind To Kill A Machine were keen to tell Turing's personal story rather than focus on the codebreaking.

"We always knew that Catrin's play about Alan Turing was very special and had the potential to be something quite incredible," says producer Sandra Bendelow.

"It is amazing to have the support of so many people who want to see the play. It is always really challenging to get support through crowdfunding campaigns but this was genuinely enjoyable. To see how much love, adoration and respect there is for Alan Turing is quite a humbling and overwhelming experience.

"Alan Turing is a hero to so many people for so many reasons and we're really excited about being able to show people why and telling the Alan Turing story the way it should be told."

Director Angharad Lee describes Cumberbatch's Oscar-nominated performance as "beautiful" but says they are keen to show a different side to Turing.

"This is a very personal exploration rather than about his work," she says. "I was frustrated that this angle wasn't shown in the film. For me, the persecution of him is a bigger story."

To Kill A Machine will be staged at Arad Goch, Aberywtwyth, May 6 to 8; Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, May 9; Torch Theatre in Milford Haven, May 12; Blackwood Miners' Institute, May 13; Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea , May 15; The Miners in Ammanford, May 21; and Theatr Hafren in Newtown, May 22. For full details, visit www.tokillamachine.co.uk

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Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Rehearsals for To Kill A Machine
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 2, 2015
Words:565
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