In a new exhibition, The Historic New Orleans Collection goes behind the scenes to recall the lasting legacy of Tennessee Williams' best-known work.
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