HomeCultureGetting Ready for the 2024 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival

Getting Ready for the 2024 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival

A Look Ahead to the 38th Annual TWFest!

Bryan Batt by Ride Hamilton

The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is set to return to the historic French Quarter from March 20-24 for a celebration of contemporary literature, theater, New Orleans culture and, of course, Tennessee Williams himself. Kicking off on Sunday, March 17, with the beloved Stella Shouting Contest, this year’s festival is filled with new partnerships, excellent programming and award-winning speakers, alongside fresh new voices on the literary scene.

This year’s lineup includes an exciting range of speakers and performers, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cunningham, National Book Award winner Justin Torres and multi-award-winning novelist Colm Toibin. There will be a focus on and celebration of New Orleans’ writers like Jess Armstrong, Anya Groner, Carolyn Hembree, Alex Jennings, Peggy Scott Laborde and more.

“We are thrilled to feature some big literary award winners this year, as well as some debut writers,” says Paul J. Willis, executive director, “but we are equally excited to put the spotlight on so many New Orleans writers. Our city is filled with an abundance of talented writers.”

Last year, the Stella Shouting Contest was moved to the beginning of the festival week, and it was such a great kickoff that it will once again be held on the Sunday before the fest (March 17 at 2 p.m. in Jackson Square). It will be a fundraiser for the New Orleans Family Justice Center, a network of agencies assisting anyone affected by domestic violence.

Other Festival Highlights

Stella Shouting Contest by The Advocate/Matthew Hinton

The 2024 literary events include a Writer’s Craft Series featuring Stephanie Burt, Stacey Balkun, Alex Jennings, Colm Toibin and Adrian Van Young. Writers at any experience level may attend the sessions, which include instruction on the craft of writing, as well as inspiration for aspiring writers. The Literary Discussion Series includes 20 panels with over 70 authors on poetry topics, writing a compelling memoir and calling on the voices of our ancestors to shape stories, as well as how to get published, the Southern Gothic genre, graphic novels, politics in Tennessee Williams’ plays and much more. The literary schedule also features the Books and Beignets book club, to be held at Third Block Depot, which will focus on the short fiction of Eudora Welty, along with literary walking tours, a book fair by Octavia Books and two writing marathons.

Lots of Theater & Fun Events

Jacob Storms

Tennessee Williams programming includes the festival’s opening night, March 20, featuring “Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams,” a solo play written and performed by Jacob Storms and originally directed for the stage by Alan Cumming, which explores the formative period from 1939 to 1945 during which Williams truly discovered his calling as a writer. Other Williams content includes the annual Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference and the annual Tribute Reading (this year’s theme is “Tennessee After Dark— The Erotic World of Tennessee Williams”). The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will host a full production of “Kingdom of Earth.” One of New Orleans’ newest theatre groups, the Fire Woods, will produce two Tennessee Williams one-acts: “The Pretty Trap” and “Interior Panic,” and Delgado Theatre Department will produce five Tennessee Williams one-acts: “Lady Larkspur’s Lotion,” “Hello, from Bertha,” “Lord Byron’s Love Letter,” “Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen,” and “The Case of the Crushed Petunias.”

Poppy Tooker will once again serve as ringmaster to a fabulous drag brunch with delicious food, drinks and some of New Orleans’ most fabulous drag queens.

The Drummer and Smoke music series also returns to the Palm Court Jazz Cafe with a Sunday lineup of local New Orleans musicians.

The Return of the Last Bohemia Fringe Festival

The Last Bohemia Fringe Festival returns for its second run with a slate of performances at the Twilight Room: “This Is the Peaceable Kingdom or Good Luck God” by Tennessee Williams, presented by the Mudlark Puppeteers; “The Sinking Opulence Show!” by Tsarina Hellfire and Stanley Roy; “Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams” written and performed by Jacob Storms; and a poetry slam.

The Fabulous Saints and Sinners LGBTQ+ Festival

Saints and Sinners Drag Queen Brunch

Also during the festival weekend, Saints and Sinners LGBTQ+ Literary Festival (SAS) celebrates its 21st year of writer’s craft sessions, author readings, literary panels and special events. Visit sasfest.org for more details.

Most festival events take place in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. Sites providing generous support include Hotel Monteleone, the festival’s host hotel; The Historic New Orleans Collection; Williams Research Center; The Twilight Room; and Palm Court Jazz Cafe.

Festival tickets are on sale now. Prices for most individual events range from $10 to $45. For more information and a full listing of events, visit tennesseewilliams.net. You can also find the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @TWFestNOLA.

Find our coverage of past festivals here.

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