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Advanced Scene Study Students Benefit from Performance of Janet Rodgers’s “Irena Gut: Only a Girl”

Upper School students in the Advanced Scene Study course in the RPS Drama department were treated to a visit by Janet Rodgers, who performed her solo show in poetry and prose entitled “Irena Gut: Only a Girl.” The 50-minute piece, created by Rodgers, depicts the true story of Irena Gut, a young Catholic Polish girl who saved the lives of twelve young Jewish professionals from extermination by the Nazis during WWII, and is based on the autobiography of Irena Gut Opdyke titled In My Hands.

The performance, arranged by Dr. Loy and RPS Drama and Acting teacher David Seamon, was a perfect fit for the Advanced Scene Study students. “These students are working on modern scenes right now that ask them to access a broad range of emotions and achieve high-stakes objectives through clear action,” said Seamon. “And lo and behold, Janet Rogers is a master of these crafts.”

Rodgers is Professor Emerita of Theatre, Virginia Commonwealth University where she taught for 25 years, was Head of Performance for seven years, and created the first MFA with emphasis in Voice and Speech Pedagogy in the USA. Prior to coming to VCU, she taught at the Boston Conservatory of Music and was principal actress with The Boston Shakespeare Company and Boston’s Lyric Stage as well as performing Off-Broadway at La Mama Theatre.

“Janet’s acting inspired the students to strive toward broadening their own emotional vocabulary, vocal projection, and commitment to character,” said Seamon, adding that a few students noted when Janet had to check her script or drink water, she did not break character. “All in all, it was wonderful for these students to see such a polished and refined performance by a working artist who engages with things that matter through her artistic endeavors. Thank you to Dr. Loy for setting it up, as well as Phyllis Marganoff, and big thanks to Janet for sharing her time and talent with us.”