Aurora Theatre Premieres 'BETRAYED' On 1/29/09
Berkeley's acclaimed Aurora Theatre Company concludes its American trilogy with the West Coast Premiere of BETRAYED, winner of the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Filled with dignity, humor, and defiance, this provocative theatrical adaptation of journalist George Packer's eye-opening 2007 essay in The New Yorker follows three Iraqi translators who risk their lives to aid the American war effort. BETRAYED plays at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley January 23 through March 1. Robin Stanton (Permanent Collection, The Busy World is Hushed) helms this astonishing play, featuring Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari, Keith Burkland, Denmo Ibrahim, Alex Moggridge, Amir Sharafeh, Khalid Shayota, and James Wagner. For tickets and information ($28-50) the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.
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.
BETRAYED will be produced as the fully-staged anchor production in the Global Age Project (GAP), an Aurora Theatre Company initiative that encourages playwrights and directors to explore life in the 21st century and beyond. Four new plays dealing with global age concerns (The First Grade by Joel Drake Johnson; Birnham Woods by Wendy MacLeod; Right? by Dan Hoyle; and and when we awoke there was light and light by Laura Jacqmin) were chosen for the GAP festival from an international pool of playwrights and will be presented in a series of developmental readings (February 2-23) during the run of BETRAYED.
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 two other works of non-fiction, 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 has also published two novels, The Half Man (1991) and Central Square (1998), and is the editor of The Fight is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World (2003). His articles, essays, and reviews on foreign affairs, American politics, and literature have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and Dissent, among others.
Aurora Theatre Company has assembled a gifted ensemble of company veterans and newcomers for BETRAYED. Alex Moggridge returns to Aurora as Bill Prescott in BETRAYED. Moggridge previously appeared in the company's production of The Entertainer. Additional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater (A Christmas Carol, The Threepenny Opera), Magic Theatre (By the Bog of Cats), SF Playhouse (Shining City), SF Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and San Jose Repertory Theater, among others.
James Wagner, who was featured in Aurora Theatre Company's production of The Busy World is Hushed, returns to the company as the Soldier in BETRAYED. Wagner recently received his MFA from American Conservatory Theater where he appeared in Candida, directed by Barbara Oliver, and in the main stage production of A Christmas Carol. Additional credits include roles in various independent films.
Making their Aurora Theatre Company debuts are Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari as Adnan, Denmo Ibrahim as Intisar, and Amir Sharafeh as Laith. Bakhtiari's credits include productions with Golden Thread, Mugwumpin, Word for Word, and Hillbarn Theater. Ibrahim is a co-founder of the Mugwumpin performance company; she has been seen regionally in productions at Fools Fury, Elastic Theatre Company, and Huntington Theatre. Sharafeh's regional credits include productions at City Theatre and Sacramento Shakespeare Festival; he has appeared in several documentary and independent films. Keith Burkland makes his Aurora Theatre Company debut as the Ambassador. Regional credits include productions at SF Playhouse, the Actors Theater, Center REPertory Company, among others. Khalid Shayota rounds out the talented cast.
Director Robin Stanton returns to Aurora Theatre Company where she helmed the company's hit production of Thomas Gibbons' Permanent Collection and last season's West Coast Premiere of The Busy World is Hushed. Stanton has directed productions and developmental readings for theaters including Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens, and Chicago Dramatists. Often credited with helping to launch the career of acclaimed playwright Rebecca Gilman, Stanton championed Gilman's work in Chicago, resulting in the production of The Glory of Living at Circle Theatre, which garnered Stanton the After Dark Award and Jeff Citation for Best Direction. Additionally, she served as Producing Artistic Director of Spokane Interplayers Ensemble and was recognized as a finalist for the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
Following BETRAYED, Mark Jackson, who directed Aurora Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Salome, returns to the company to helm August Strindberg's MISS JULIE in April. Bob Glaudini's unconventional romantic comedy JACK GOES BOATING, directed by Joy Carlin, rounds out the season in June.
Aurora Theatre Company continues to offer challenging, literate, intelligent stage works to the Bay Area, each year increasing its reputation for top-notch theatre. Located in the heart of the Downtown Berkeley Arts District, Aurora Theatre Company has been called "one of the most important regional theaters in the area" by the San Francisco Chronicle, while The Wall Street Journal has "nothing but praise for the Aurora." The Contra Costa Times stated, "perfection is probably an unattainable ideal in a medium as fluid as live performance, but the Aurora Theatre comes luminously close," while the San Jose Mercury News affirmed "[Aurora Theatre Company] lives up to its reputation as a theater that feeds the mind," and the Oakland Tribune declared "it's all about choices, and if you value good theater, choose the Aurora."
Previews: January 23, 24, 28 at 8pm; January 25 at 2pm
Opens: January 29
Closes: March 1, 2009
2081 Addison Street
TICKETS: For tickets (previews $28, regular performances $40-42, limited opening night seating $50) and information, the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.
From This Author Eugene Lovendusky