A Tale of Two Companies: Sprites Breaks Barriers (Sprites runs January 24-26 at the Long Center)

Sprites is a collaboration between Polyanna Theatre Company and Ballet Austin, opening January 25 in the Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center. We recently spoke to Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Artistic Director for Polyanna Theatre Co., regarding this exciting debut.

Like many of you who are reading this, I wish I had a dime for every time when I was a child that I was told “Sticks and stones may hurt your bones, but words can never hurt you”. This seems to have been a standard statement that parents and teachers used to try to arm us against the cutting remarks of a bullying peer. But I have to admit that no matter how many times I heard this as a child, I never agreed and never believed it. Word when spoken harshly and when filled with a mean spirit COULD and DID hurt. So, I wonder why we were told this so regularly.

Anyone who has been watching the news can not help but notice that words are still hurtful.  In fact, with the advent of social media, words can now have a hauntingly persistent presence in the life of a young person.  If these are words of praise, the effect can be astoundingly positive.  But when the comment is a cutting one, the words that are launched into cyberspace can have devastating effects.  The result has been numerous child and teen suicides. Perhaps it is time that all of us pledge to strike the comment “words can’t hurt you” from the English language.

Pollyanna Theatre Company’s newest collaboration with Ballet Austin, SPRITES, by Holly Hepp-Galvan, explores the power of words and the life that they take on once posted online.  The challenge we gave ourselves as performing artists was to bring words to life through dance and show their power to both hurt and to heal.  The result is a thought provoking theatrical event that we believe will give parents and teachers a great deal to discuss with the children in their care.  Working with Ballet Austin’s Nicholas Kepley, Pollyanna has created a production that tells as much of this story through movement as it does through dialogue.  Hepp-Galvan’s script has had us laughing and crying in the studio as we work on this production. And I have great faith that it will have audiences of all ages, especially those over the age of 8, not only laughing and feeling deeply, it will have them thinking deeply, pondering the power of word.

Sprites runs in our intimate Rollins Studio Theatre January 24-26. The show is appropriate for all ages, and families are welcome. For show info and tickets, visit our website today.


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