To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Pollyanna Theatre, resident theatre company of the Long Center, is partnering with the LBJ Library on a special production for children, Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! by Gregory S. Perrin opening October 11 – 19 at the Long Center, 701 West Riverside Drive, Austin.
The original play by award-winning playwright Gregory Perrin was commissioned by Pollyanna Theatre specifically for the young people of Austin. Best suited for mid to upper elementary school children and their families, Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! is a theatrical exploration of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Perrin, who has studied with three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee is passionate about the 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 – some may be difficult or unpleasant – need to happen.”
The LBJ Library’s Education Department is partnering with Pollyanna Theatre in creating educational resources which will be available online and in print for all adults who attend the production, to accompany the play. The materials explore the Civil Rights Movement and include recommendations on how to navigate children through this very important topic. The two organizations will also cross promote school visits to explore the LBJ Library’s exhibits in conjunction with the performances.
The action of Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! is set in a history museum where the play’s characters (a group of 4th grade students) experience key elements of our national history when iconic images from that period come to life. These characters entertain, enlighten and take the children on a fascinating journey through history.
Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Founder and Artistic Director of Pollyanna Theatre Company feels strongly about commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “This was a critical turning point in our nation’s history. It is so important for children of all races, to understand the movement, especially in light of what’s happening in today’s world. There is still much work to be done.”
The inspiration for the collaboration between Pollyanna Theatre and LBJ Library came about earlier this year through an introductory email from Judy to LBJ Library’s Sarah McCracken Director of Public Programs. That email led to a meeting that included Amanda Melancon, the Library’s Education Specialist. From there, a partnership was forged. Both Judy and Gregory were invited to the Civil Rights Summit in April at the Library, which was attended by President Obama and former Presidents Carter and Clinton.
Judy received another thrill at the Summit when she realized she was sitting next to an avid Civil Rights advocate also dedicated to education; Dr. Bernice King – youngest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. Amanda Melancon, Education Specialist at LBJ Library says, “We are thrilled to partner with Pollyanna Theatre Company. We have outstanding educational resources on the Civil Rights movement: from photos and films to historical documents. We host thousands of children each year through our exhibits and activities, and to be a part of a theatrical version of this story, is yet another way to engage future generations.”
All roles in Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! are played by professional adult actors.The cast includes; Bethany Harbaugh, Olivia Jimenez, Cameron McKnight, Emily Braun, Aubrey Hicks, Jacques Colimon, Aaron Alexander, Alessandra Manon, Craig Kanne and Jessica Hughes. The production is directed by Matetzschk-Campbell.
Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! runs October 11-19 at the Rollins Studio Theatre at The Long Center for the Performing Arts. For specific times and ticket prices, visit http://www.pollyannatheatrecompany.org.
ABOUT POLLYANNA THEATRE COMPANY: The founders of Pollyanna Theatre Company believe that theatre is a powerful teaching tool that speaks to people of all ages in a unique and powerful way through a variety of visual, aural, and emotional languages. Therefore, theatre should be a part of all general education from pre-kindergarten through adulthood. Toward that end, The Pollyanna Theatre Company strives to work alongside educators to inspire, motivate, and teach audiences of all ages. Although the company’s primary focus is upon young audience members, the ensemble performs top quality theatrical productions that speak to and illuminate the human spirit and condition for all ages.
ABOUT LBJ PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: The LBJ Presidential Library is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Its mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibits and educational programs; to advance the LBJ Library’s standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world. http://www.lbjlibrary.org
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