Anticipating the 2014 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
Celebrate the playwright’s birthday March 19-23 in the city he called his “spiritual home.”
Dorothy Allison, Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Diane Ladd, Bryan Batt, Justin Torres and Ann Hood are just some of the guests attending this year’s literary festival celebrating Tennessee Williams’ birthday in New Orleans. As usual, theater performances abound, with “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on this year’s schedule, and the popular Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest concludes the weekend in an ode to “Streetcar Named Desire.” We’ll be heading to the Big Easy to catch all drama starting on March 19 and perused the full schedule recently in anticipation. Join us if you can and check out the events we’re most looking forward to below!
- For aspiring writers, master classes on March 19 and 20 are an affordable opportunity to gain valuable writing advice from the likes of Zachary Lazar, who will offer a brief history of dialogue starting with Hemingway, Laura Lippman and Dorothy Allison. Classes are just $25 each and held at The Historic New Orleans Collection.
- Dorothy Allison appears several times again throughout the festival, so there’s no excuse not to see this giant in Southern fiction. Her panel on Sunday titled “Literary Laughs: Entertaining Ourselves” should be especially fun.
- One could attend the festival just for the theater, and most notable this year are “Vivien,” a one-woman portrayal of star Vivien Leigh, “Hotel Plays” by Tennessee Williams, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Place That I Was Made For,” with Diane Ladd, Bryan Batt, Dorothy Allison, Justin Torres and more sharing some of the most side-splitting stories and observations Williams made about New Orleans. Performances range from $25-$35 and are held in different locations throughout the French Quarter.
- On Friday, the “Not Even Past: Southern History in Contemporary Fiction” panel summons Faulkner as panelists Bill Cheng, Kiese Laymon, Valerie Martin and Kent Wascom address the multiplicities of Southern identity and how the region’s complex, brutal history plays in their works.
- New Southern Poetry on Saturday will have poets from across the region reading from their first collections and discussing identity, history and diversity in the modern South.
- See crime greats Laura Lippman and Megan Abbott together on Saturday during the “Death and Desire” panel inspired by Blanche DuBois’s quote “the opposite of death is desire.” They’ll discuss how desire drives their work and often results in death.
- Saturday’s Literary Late Night is titled “Elmore Leonard is From Here: A Tribute” and promises readings from the late New Orleans-born author’s texts by local crime writers, reporters and rising stars, along with burlesque performers and a live band playing tracks from popular film soundtracks based on his work.
- “Choose Your Own Misadventure: Journeys in Literature” on Sunday brings together Valerie Martin, Justin Torres and Mat Johnson to discuss literary fiction stunts, hypnotizing histories and searing memoirs in their work.
- After the Shouting Contest on Sunday, head over to the Beauregard-Keyes House for Sunday Supper. Author Francis Parkinson-Keyes wrote her novel Dinner at Antoine‘s while living in the house, and the supper will celebrate its recent reprint by serving a sampling of the menu from the fabled dinner Keyes served in 1948 to announce its initial publication. Tickets are $75 and limited to 100 guests.
The 2014 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival runs from March 19-23 in the New Orleans French Quarter. See the full schedule here. Festival headquarters is The Hotel Monteleone, with other events held in surrounding locations. Festival panel passes are available for $70 for March 21-23 or $30 a day. Master classes are $25 each or purchase a pass for the full class series for $175. Theater performances range from $25-$35. Tickets are available online or at the festival box office on site at The Monteleone.
See our highlights from last year’s fest here.