Saturday, January 31, 2009

Iraqi translators in a new stage production

George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author, most recently, of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, which won several awards and was named by The New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2005. He has published The Village of Waiting (1988), a memoir about his years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, and Blood of the Liberals (2000), a three-generational political history, which won the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Packer is the editor of The Fight is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World (2003).

In early 2007, George Packer published an article entitled "Betrayed" in The New Yorker about Iraqi interpreters who jeopardized their lives on behalf of the Americans in Iraq with little or no U.S. protection or security. The article drew national attention to the humanitarian and moral scandal. Based on Packer's first-person interviews in Baghdad, the stage adaptation of BETRAYED tells the story of three young Iraqis, two men and one woman, motivated to risk everything by America's promise of freedom. Hailed as "eloquent" and full of "sharp dramatic impact and beauty" by The New York Times, BETRAYED explores the complex relationship between a Sunni and a Shiite Muslim who build a rare bond as they face the daily dangers of working for the American authorities after the 2003 invasion in Baghdad. Joined by a woman who refuses to submit to Islamic law, all three struggle to realize their dreams and hopes for a new world in a country that is collapsing around them.

And now it has been staged by Berkeley's acclaimed Aurora Theatre Company. The play, which is a provocative theatrical adaptation of Packer's eye-opening 2007 essay in The New Yorker, has already won the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Robin Stanton helms this astonishing play, featuring Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari, Keith Burkland, Denmo Ibrahim, Alex Moggridge, Amir Sharafeh, Khalid Shayota, and James Wagner.

A review of the play can be read here.

No comments: