Pollyanna Theatre, resident theatre company of the Long Center, is remounting their highly acclaimed production for children and families about Civil Rights, Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! by Gregory S. Perrin. The performance is free to the public on Saturday, February 18th at 2:00 pm at the LBJ Library Auditorium, located at 2313 Red River Street. The play is best suited for children ages eight and up, and their families. This production is co-sponsored by the Education Department of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and The University of Texas at Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
This powerful play follows the field trip adventures of a group of 4th grade students who are visiting a history museum but are surprised by what happens when people from iconic images come to life and tell them their personal stories. These characters entertain and enlighten; taking the next generation of theatre goers on a fascinating journey through the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! was written as a commission by award-winning playwright Gregory Perrin for Pollyanna Theatre Company. Perrin, a successful Texas playwright, studied with three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee, has received five different commissions to write plays for family audiences and was the inaugural playwright commissioned by Theater LaB Houston for the Fiesta First Ward Children’s Theater Project.
“History is important, but many of our children feel that it is boring because it has nothing to do with them. My goal is that the children seeing this play will leave with questions about what they have seen, which hopefully will lead to conversations with parents, grandparents, teachers and friends. These conversations – though difficult or unpleasant – need to happen,” says Perrin.
The unique partnership between Pollyanna Theatre and LBJ Library was sparked in 2014 after Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Founder and Artistic Director of Pollyanna Theatre Company, and Gregory were invited to a Civil Rights Summit in 2014 at the Library, attended by President Obama and former Presidents Carter and Clinton. Judy ended up sitting next to an avid Civil Rights advocate also dedicated to education; Dr. Bernice King – youngest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. Pollyanna later received an invitation to perform in the LBJ Auditorium from Mark Updegrove, Director of the LBJ Library and Museum who saw the original production and participated in the post-show talkback.
The LBJ Library’s Education Department helped create educational resources to accompany the show, which are available free of charge, online and in print for all adults who attend the production. The materials explore the Civil Rights Movement and include recommendations on how to navigate children through this very important topic.
Pollyanna is thrilled to have the opportunity for another run and deeply grateful for the support of our partners at the LBJ Presidential Library Education Department and The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (http://diversity.utexas.edu/). Matetzschk-Campbell says, “The first run of this production which was presented in October of 2014 received as much positive response from adult audience members as from our younger patrons. It is truly a production which will be enjoyed by all attendees ages eight through adulthood. The arts are a wonderful tool for parents and teachers to use to continue this timeless dialogue.”
“The LBJ Presidential Library has been observing the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, signed into law by President Johnson in September 1965, and his words still resonate today, ‘For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a nation,’” says Mark Updegrove, Director of the LBJ Library. “As our nation also marks the 50th anniversary of key pieces of legislation that LBJ signed that address equality, the right to vote, and fair housing, the LBJ Library Education Department is excited to join hands with the leaders of Pollyanna Theatre to invite a new generation of Americans into this important conversation about our liberties.”
For more information on Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! or Pollyanna Theatre Company, visit www.pollyannatheatrecompany.org.