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Cudahy Actor Performs in Acacia Theatre's "Irena's Vow"

Nov. 7, 2012

Philip Birdener, of Cudahy, plays Lazar Haller in “Irena’s Vow,” the story of a brave Polish Catholic housekeeper secretly protecting Jewish refugees while she was working for a German major. Her courageous story comes to life in “Irena’s Vow,” playwright Dan Gordon’s retelling of the true story of Irena Gut Opdyke.

Birdener describes the power of Irena’s story. He says, “The audition was the first time I saw the script, and my first impulse would have been tears during some of the scenes. As I drove back home, I reflected on how sad and yet uplifted I felt from simply reading the lines. The power of the ‘cold read’ let us experience the emotions of the words as we read them aloud for the first time. With a very special kind of script, this has the effect of relieving an emotional strain we didn’t know we had at the initial response to the reading. It’s a very powerful story.”

The script allows the audience to understand a particular display of courage. Phil explains, “We glimpse one society trying to obliterate another that it sees only as vermin. We glimpse the fear that threatens to control the decisions of those hiding from obliteration and managing to stave it off by a hair for one more day. We glimpse the strength of the courage, rooted in faith, able to override the decisions of fear and to empower hearts to do things that need be done no matter the cost, just to keep people in turmoil from losing their humanity.”

All performances will be given in Concordia University Wisconsin’s Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 North Lake Shore Drive in Mequon, Wis

“Irena’s Vow” is the inspiring, life-affirming story of one of the most courageous and unsung heroines of World War II, Irena Gut Opdyke. 19-year-old Irena, a Polish Catholic, was forced to work as head housekeeper for a prominent German major. Over a two year period of service, Irena used her wit, humor, and courage to protect the lives of the Jewish refugees she cared for secretly. A celebration of triumph in a time of suffering, this is an extraordinary true story of one woman’s character.

Performances will be given on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8pm; Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 8pm; Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 3pm; Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 8pm; Friday, November 16, 2012 at 8pm; Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 4pm and 8pm; Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 3pm.


Season Subscription and Single Ticket Information
Season subscriptions cost $38, or $30 for senior citizens, full-time students and full-time clergy. Single tickets will cost $16, or $13 for senior citizens, full-time students and full-time clergy. More information is available by calling (414) 744-5995 or visiting www.acaciatheatre.com.

About Acacia Theatre Company
Founded in 1980, Acacia Theatre Company is an independent, non-profit, interdenominational group of dramatic artists who share a common desire to integrate art and faith by presenting theatre from a Judeo-Christian worldview. Through uplifting, quality entertainment, Acacia provides occasion for thanksgiving, growth and enjoyment, and the opportunity for Christians and non-Christians to consider their lives in relation to God. More information is available at www.acaciatheatre.com.
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