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Louisiana Book Festival Celebrates Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “A Streetcar Named Desire” has been named the 2017 “One Book, One Festival” selection. 

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Tennessee Williams’ iconic play, the Louisiana Book Festival is reading and discussing “A Streetcar Named Desire” this year. The play, which opened on December 3, 1947, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, is considered to be one of Williams’s greatest works and has been in near continuous production over the past 70 years, enjoyed numerous revivals and been adapted to film, television, opera and even ballet.

“There is no better way to celebrate Louisiana and the upcoming tricentennial of New Orleans than with “A Streetcar Named Desire,” says Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Tennessee Williams was a great man and author whose passion for New Orleans and its culture are reflected in this wonderful play.”

Inaugurated in 2008, the Louisiana Book Festival’s “One Book, One Festival” program invites attendees to read the same title in advance and later join the scholar-led discussion with others during the festival on Saturday, October 28, 2017. This year’s discussion will be led by perennial festival favorite Gary Richards, associate professor and chair of the Department of English, Linguistics & Communication at the University of Mary Washington and scholar of Southern literature. He is the author of Lovers and Other Beloveds: Sexual Otherness in Southern Fiction as well as numerous essays on Southern fiction and drama.

This year’s festival will also include a program featuring WYES’s Peggy Scott Laborde, host of “Steppin’ Out,” in conversation with WWL-TV news anchor Eric Paulsen. An award-winning journalist who has spent the last 30 years on WWL’s highly-rated morning and noon news programs, Paulsen has the honor and distinction of having conducted the last broadcast interview with literary legend Tennessee Williams—an interview held on the second floor of what was then “Marti’s” restaurant on the corner of Rampart Street in New Orleans. The program at the 2017 Louisiana Book Festival will include a screening of excerpts from that last interview.

A nationally recognized literary event, the Louisiana Book Festival is free, open to the public and takes place annually in the heart of Baton Rouge in the Louisiana State Capitol, State Library of Louisiana, Capitol Park Museum and tents on neighboring streets. The 2017 festival is scheduled for Saturday, October 28, and will feature more than 250 authors and panelists discussing their books and more than 100 programs.

Aspiring writers can kick things off on Friday, October 27, by attending a festival WordShop. These one-day courses are designed for those writing fiction, memoir, personal essay poetry or works for young people and cover a wide range of craft elements such as voice, setting, building tension and creating cross-genre work. This year’s stellar WordShop lineup includes Joshilyn Jackson, Michael Farris Smith, Beth Ann Fennelly, Kathy L. Murphy and Jeff Zentner. While the book festival is free, registration is $45 for one WordShop or $85 for two. Space is limited, so registration and payment are due by October 20.

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