For the second time in recent memory, a New Yorker article is coming to life onstage. Like Lawrence Wright's critically acclaimed "My Trip to Al-Qaeda" last March, New Yorker writer George Packer's play will concern contemporary events in the Middle East and be produced by The Culture Project. But unlike his colleague, Packer will not appear onstage as a monologuist. (An early childhood ambition to act, he said, was crushed by a discouraging correspondence with none other than Laurence Olivier.)
Packer, who has also written two novels but is best known for his Iraq coverage in The New Yorker, has adapted for the stage his March article "Betrayed," about Iraqi interpreters who aided the U.S. but were later forsaken by it. "I don't think too many magazine articles lend themselves to drama, but I felt this story did because the voices of the Iraqis in it are strong, the stories are quite intimate and they're not played out on a grand stage," Packer said. "They're ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances."