Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Play explores mother/daughter relationships, benefits DU

Students of DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) have an invitation to a play on July 21. While the rest of the community is welcome, too, Saturday’s performance will benefit GSPP, and attendees can discuss the play afterward with two GSPP professors.

Just Pretend Everything is Perfectly Normal debuts at The Playwright Theatre on Friday, July 20. 

The play is a collection of four short works written and performed by Janna Goodwin and Diana Buirski. While each work stands on its own, they all explore mother/daughter relationships in different scenarios and stages of life.

“The material presented on stage needs to reach out to people in different ways,” Goodwin says. “It’s a perfect marriage to have people from the Graduate School of Professional Psychology facilitate the talkback with some of the issues.”

Goodwin, who is an assistant professor of communication at Regis University, is married to DU psychology Professor Michael Karson.

Goodwin believes her and Buirski’s plays are predisposed to psychology because Buirski’s father, Peter Buirski, is dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology and a psychology professor.

“I think that obviously Diana and I have been heavily influenced by living with psychologists,” Goodwin says. “Certainly my conversations with Michael over many years have influenced the psychology of the characters I write.”

Michael Karson says people might think the topic of psychology sounds boring, but the performances are nothing but funny and entertaining.

“It’s a kind of lively, cutting-edge, story-telling and enjoyable theatre,” Karson says.

DU psychology Professor Shelly Smith-Acuna will facilitate the talkback discussion. She was selected not only because of her field, but also because she is a mother.

A portion of the proceeds from the July 21 performance will benefit the Nelson Jones Endowed Scholarship Fund, which helps students with academic merit and financial need pursue a GSPP degree.

“It honors the DU professor who was the first director of the program and one of the three founders,” Karson says.

Admission is $20 for the play, which runs through July 29 at the Playwright Theatre, 2119 East 17th Ave., Denver. Call 303-499-0383 for more information or visit

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