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Tennessee By Way of NOLA

Photograph of Tennessee Williams, 1956, Courtesy of Estate of Yousuf Karsh. http://www.karsh.org


A Streetcar Named Desire
Act 1
Scene 1
Curtain rises in darkness. Music of a small jazz band is heard off. Lights come up slowly, revealing the two rooms of the KOWALSKI apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In the bedroom at L., STELLA KOWALSKI lounges in a rickety armchair, fanning herself with a palm-leaf fan, and eating chocolates from a paper bag. She is reading a movie magazine.


So begins the now-infamous 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams. As noted, the setting is the New Orleans French Quarter, and the city pays tribute to its deceased resident playwright each year with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Starting on Wednesday, Tennessee’s life and work will be felt all over the quarter, from a screening of the movie version of “A Streetcar Named Desire” atop the Chateau Bourbon Hotel to theater productions, writers’ panels and even a Stanley and Stella shouting contest. No Tennessee Williams event would be complete without a little Stellaaaaaaaa!

Participants in the 2009 Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest.

Photo by Earl Perry


While the festival is bringing in a who’s who of the literary scene for panel discussions and a Scholars Conference, several late-night events, like a Literary Late Night Poetry Slam, Literary Death Match competition and Bedtime Stories of erotica through the ages, give aspiring writers a chance to channel their inner-Tennessee. This year’s winner of the second-annual fiction writing contest will also be announced during the weekend.

Below, we list must-see highlights on our agenda, but the the full program and schedule of events can be found at www.tennesseewilliams.net. If you go, be sure to grab a bite between sessions at the Roadfood Festival happening simultaneously on Royal Street. Can’t make it this year? Mark your calendar for March 23-27, 2011, when the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary and centennial birthday of Tennessee Williams.

Deep South’s Tennessee Williams Festival Playbook

Friday, March 26

1:30 p.m.: “Dave Eggers: A Conversation With Dave Eggers About His Work” at The Historic New Orleans Collection

4 p.m.: “I Remember Tennessee,” an annual highlight where former friends and colleagues pay tribute

7:30 p.m.: “The Night of the Iguana” theater performance

Saturday, March 27

11 a.m.: “Conversation With James Carville”

2:30 p.m.: “Jill Conner Browne Revealing the Secrets of the Universe” (can’t miss seeing the Sweet Potato Queen!)

8 p.m.: “Ignatius on Stage,” staged reading of scenes from John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces”

Sunday, March 28

10 a.m.: “Who’s Afraid Of A Little Drama? A Conversation With Edward Albee”

11:30: “All That Jazz…And Beyond: The Making Of Treme

1 p.m.: “Shucking & Jiving With Oysters,” sampling of dishes from “The P&J Oyster Cookbook”

2:30 p.m.: “A Reading From the Fiction Writing Contest With Judge Jill McCorkle”

5:30 p.m.: “Stanley & Stella Shouting Contest”

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