Written by Andrea
January 16, 2009
The Refugees International-sponsored one-night-only performance of "Betrayed" kicked off a year of stimulating cultural events at the Kennedy Center.
Attendees of this event were treated to a VIP reception with celebrity hosts Sarah Jessica Parker and Matt Dillon. The play, based on a New Yorker article penned by George Packer drawing on his interviews of Iraqi refugees, aptly adapted for the stage by the journalist and then directed by his brother Pippin, explored the troubling contradictions in the relationship between Iraqi interpreters and aides, and U.S. Government elements working in the country.
In the intimacy of the Center's Terrace Theater, the tale of American-affiliated Iraqis unfolded -- one that has been very much on the mind of the policymakers and non-profit organizers in this city. What became clear from the performances delivered by leading actors Sevan Greene and Waleed Zuaiter, among other skilled players, was that American-affiliated Iraqis have too often been caught in between, no longer trusted by their own countrymen, yet still considered a threat by U.S. forces in the country, and particularly those with the power to come to their assistance.
Despite the serious subject matter, the show had its lighter moments, poking fun at U.S. government policies and stereotypes. The State Department diplomat, U.S. army specialist and embassy security official characters were cause for both irreverent laughter and knowing groans of pain in an audience heavy on diplomats and others working in the region.
While this performance shined a light on the singular case of American-affiliated Iraqis, Refugees International advocates for resources on behalf of all those 1.9 million displaced and 12 million stateless individuals around the world. With 5 million Iraqis who have already fled, this county's refugee problem is, however, now the fastest growing one around the world, and has left these individuals without access to basic health, education, shelter or employment. Greg's List DC readers' attendance at this event bolstered RI's advocacy for a long-term solution to refugees' plight.
Greg's List DC, for its part, was pleased to contribute to getting the word out about this worthy cause. It thanks its Refugees International collaborator Ellie Stamatopoulos, in particular, for bringing the show to our attention.
Inquiries regarding support for Refugees International should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.