For the fourth year in a row, Pollyanna Theatre 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 17th at 2:00 pm at the LBJ Library Auditorium located at 2313 Red River Street. The play is best suited for children grades 3 – 7 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 5th 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 Civil Rights Movement while introducing them to key concepts and conflicts found in our collective history.
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, which was attended by former Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter. Judy ended up sitting next to Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King and an avid Civil Rights advocate who is also dedicated to education. Pollyanna later received an invitation to perform in the LBJ Auditorium from Mark Updegrove, the former director of the LBJ Library and Museum who saw the original production and participated in the post-show talkback. Pollyanna is thrilled to produce this show once again and deeply grateful for the support of their partners at the LBJ Presidential Library Education Department and The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (http://diversity.utexas.edu/).
Matetzschk-Campbell says, “Now more than ever, we as Americans, need to discuss great acts of political bravery from our past in order to inspire great acts of political bravery in our present and future. The first run of this production, which was presented in October of 2014, received a positive response from both the adult audience members and 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 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 and students who attend the production. The materials explore the Civil Rights Movement and include recommendations on how to navigate children through this very important topic. For more information on Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! or Pollyanna Theatre Company, visit www.pollyannatheatrecompany.org.