HomeArts & LitHappy Birthday Tennessee!

Happy Birthday Tennessee!

March 26 would have been Tennessee Williams’ 100th birthday, so there’s lots of activity involving the playwright this week. Troy Gilbert and Chef Greg Picolo with Dr. Kenneth Holditch published their new book, “Dinner With Tennessee Williams,” just in time, and we’ve got a review plus three books to give away. Part food memoir and part cookbook, the book includes more than 80 recipes, many inspired by Williams’ life in New Orleans. The perfect cookbook for literary lovers and foodies, “Dinner With Tennessee Williams” is also a perfect way to celebrate his birthday this month.

For the chance to win a copy, read our review, then comment on this post and tell us what you’d make Tennessee Williams if he came over for dinner. Giveaway closes at midnight on his birthday.

Each year surrounding Williams’ birthday, the city of New Orleans holds the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. This year, the festival has gone all out to celebrate what is also its 25th anniversary, presenting a literary panel with the founders of the festival, world premiere of three never-before produced one-act plays by Williams, a Saturday night birthday toast and a special tasting and symposium for “Dinner With Tennessee Williams” at the Bistro at Maison de Ville. (Only a few tickets are left for the book event.)  To view the full schedule and purchase tickets, visit www.tennesseewilliams.net or call 1-800-990-FEST. Literary Panel Passes are $75.

Below are our picks for this year. To see our festival highlights from last year, click here.

  • Cocktails And Cinema atop the Chateau Bourbon Hotel, where bartenders will create Tennessee Williams-inspired drinks and film “Baby Doll” will be shown in the rooftop courtyard March 23 at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.
  • Remembering Tennessee Gala Celebration with Tony Award-winner Zoe Caldwell and “Baby Doll’s” Carroll Baker March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre. Tickets are $50.
  • Tennessee Williams Literary Walking Tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Tours meet in the Royal Sonesta lobby and cost $25.
  • New Southern Voices panel with Minrose Gwin, Skip Horack and Josh Russell on March 25 at 10 a.m. in the Royal Sonesta Grand Ballroom. Included in the Festival Panel Pass.
  • Southern Humor: Serving Up a Gracious Plenty panel with Mark Childress, Dorothy Allison, Jim Grimsley and James Wilcox on March 25 at 4 p.m. in the Royal Sonesta Grand Ballroom. Included in the Festival Panel Pass. (Allison is also included in a March 26 panel on writing about the family.)
  • Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, with Sheila Bosworth, Valerie Martin and Chris Wiltz discussing their memories of the writer and the book on March 26 at 10 a.m. at Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant. Included in the Festival Panel Pass.
  • 27 Wagons Full of Cotton performed by Theatre West of Pensacola, Florida, including an interview with star Carroll Baker on March 26 at 1 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre. Tickets are $25.
  • The Story Behind the Stars: Celebrity Memoirists Tell All panel with Bryan Batt, Zoe Caldwell, Amy Dickinson and John Waters on March 26 at 2:30 p.m. in the Royal Sonesta Grand Ballroom. Included in the Festival Panel Pass.
  • Tales of the Master: Conversation with Armistead Maupin on March 26 at 4 p.m. in the Royal Sonesta Grand Ballroom. Included in the Festival Panel Pass.
  • Stanley And Stella Shouting Contest March 27 at 4 p.m. in Jackson Square.

Also celebrating on Tennessee Williams’ birthday weekend is his birthplace of Columbus, Mississippi. Events include an open house at his restored childhood home, unveiling of historic markers related to the playwright and an exhibit of movie and play memorabilia at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. Click here to see the full list of events. Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Tennessee Williams spent most of his childhood, celebrates the playwright’s legacy each fall with its Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival. Scheduled for October 14-15 this year, festival events include a screening of new Tennessee Williams documentary, “The South is Everywhere,” and a birthday cake reception at the Cutrer Mansion.

Southerners, you’ve got no excuse not to celebrate Tennessee Williams’ birthday. If you can’t make it to one of these events, turn on Turner Classic Movies tonight for a showing of “Baby Doll” at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Williams photo courtesy of Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. John Waters photo by Earl Perry.

Dinner With Tennesse
Civil Rights Trail A
  • David G. / March 22, 2011

    I have to say Mr. Williams would be treated to some pan seared wild duck breast, stuffed with a small slice of jalapeno pepper and creamed cheese, wrapped in bacon, main course of shrimp and grits, and dessert consisting of a charlotte rou fro dessert with blue berries, black berries and strawberries, fresh whipped cream and split lady finders. That would also double as my last meal if I was in prison, FYI.

  • Molly / March 22, 2011

    If Tenn Wms came over for supper, I’d serve him Louisiana crawfish etouffe over fluffy rice, with a cucumber & tomato salad (from the garden). I’d serve him cold, sweet tea and for dessert, strawberry shortcake with sweet Louisiana strawberries. After we were done, I’d serve him strong Louisiana coffee and we’d sit in the rockers on the porch while we drank it.

  • Stella / March 23, 2011

    Tennessee Williams would sit under our giant oaks with me and sip on Stella’s SoCo Sweet Tea Cocktail, served in a tall glass over ice, and enjoy Deviled Eggs with Blanche’d Almonds as we wait for dinner.

    We would then mosey to our wrap-around porch of our circa 1920s cypress house for dinner so we could enjoy the summer breeze drifting through the oaks surrounding the property. Dinner would consist of Big Daddy’s Honey-Buttered Biscuits with Hot Tin Hoppin’ John accented with andouille, served with Toulouse Street Turnip Greens With Pot Liquor. Dessert would, of course, be Beignets Menagerie, featuring a trio of toppings from which choose, including sifted powdered sugar, sweet dark chocolate with a touch of Grand Marnier, and honey with a smidge of cinnamon, served with a snifter of warmed Brandy to savor at the evening’s end while we reminisced about our love of the South.

  • Dana / March 24, 2011

    If Tennessee Williams and I could tear ourselves away from our conversations about our love of all things southern, New Orleans and food, we would cozy up to a dinner table inspired by our favorite restaurant, his writing and my country roots.

    Between courses, I would tempt him to share his personal life stories, his inspirations, his struggles, his victories.

    Menu for a Night with Tennessee:

    Southern Sweet Tea made with Louisiana Cane Sugar

    Heaven on Earth Duck and Andouille Gumbo with Hot Biscuit Croutons

    Sweet Bird Buttermilk Fried Chicken Cutlets with Baby Doll Red Potatoes and Garden Fresh Snap Beans

    Lovely Sunday’s Rockefeller Spinach

    Milk Train Milk Punch with a Side Car of Bourbon

    A Dessert Named Desire: Bread Pudding with Bourbon Glaze and Pontchatoula Stawberry Garnish