'Betrayed' Hosts Special Talk-Back Series

Culture Project (Allan Buchman, Artistic Director) has announced that it will host two special post-performance discussions, following the Saturday, January 26th and Friday, February 1st performances of its World Premiere production of George Packer's new play Betrayed.  The first, following the 8:00 p.m. performance on January 26th, will include Packer and Iraqi interpreter (and the inspiration for the main character in Betrayed) Omer Salih Mahdi.  Following the Friday, February 1st performance, Culture Project will welcome Pulitzer Prize winner (and My Trip to Al-Qaeda playwright) Lawrence Wright, who will join Packer in conversation about the war in Iraq.

Omer Salih Mahdi was one of six resident doctors at Al Karkh General Hospital in Baghdad before he began working as a translator with various NGOs and media organizations in 2003.  Omer met George Packer and worked as his interpreter in 2005, including four weeks embedded with US troops in Tal Afer, Tikrit, and Baquba.  In 2006, Omer began filming inside the ER of Al Yarmouk hospital, the result of which is Baghdad Hospital: Inside the Red Zone, an International Emmy Award-winning documentary that will be shown on HBO on January 29.

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker.  Wright is the co-writer (With Ed Zwick and Menno Meyjes) of the motion picture The Siege.  Wright is the author of seven books, including The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Knopf, 2006), which spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into more than a dozen languages and has won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.  Last year, Wright's one-man play, My Trip to Al-Qaeda, enjoyed a critically acclaimed, sold-out run at Culture Project.

Directed by Pippin Parker, Betrayed marks Packer's playwriting debut.  It begins performances at Culture Project's SoHo Theater (55 Mercer Street) on Friday, January 25, with an official opening night set for Wednesday, February 6.

According to a press release: "In early 2007, George Packer published an article 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 crisis and moral scandal.  Betrayed, based on Mr. Packer's interviews in Baghdad, tells the story of three young Iraqis - two men and one woman - motivated to risk everything by America's promise of freedom.  Betrayed explores the complex relationships among the Iraqis themselves, and with their American supervisor, struggling to find purpose while a country collapses around them.  Betrayed is also set for publication this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishers."

The cast of Betrayed includes Jeremy Beck, Aadya Bedi, Mike Doyle, Ramsey Faragallah, Sevan Greene and Waleed F. Zuaiter.
The design team is comprised of Garin Marschall (Set and Lighting), Eric Shim (Sound) and Rabiah Troncelliti (Costumes).

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 ten 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.  He 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, Dissent and other publications.  He lives in Brooklyn.

Performances are Monday at 8 p.m., Wednesday – Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  Tickets are priced at $25 - $60 and are available by calling 212-352-3101 or visiting www.cultureproject.org.  Culture Project is located at 55 Mercer Street (at Broome) in the heart of SoHo.

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