The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival returns to the historic French Quarter for its 33rd annual celebration of contemporary literature, culture, theater, and the works of Tennessee Williams. From March 27-31, 2019, attendees will enjoy celebrated award-winning speakers alongside fresh new voices on the literary scene.
The five-day event offers a range of diverse speakers and performers, including Dorothy Allison, Jami Attenberg, Bryan Batt, Jason Berry, Roy Blount, Jr., Douglas Brinkley, Greg Brownderville, Alafair Burke, Robert Olen Butler, Maureen Corrigan, Michael Cunningham, Garth Greenwell, Silas House, Val Kilmer, Bernice L. McFadden, Daniel José Older, Hannah Pittard, Julia Reed, Justin Phillip Reed, Nathaniel Rich, Poppy Tooker, Kent Wascom, and many more.
“Our annual Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading, a favorite event among our patrons, will focus on Williams’ emergence from Tom to Tennessee and will include some of his earliest writings,” said Paul Willis, Executive Director. “And I’m excited to partner with Francine Segal for a theatrical adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces that will include projections, music, and costumes. It’s such an iconic piece of New Orleans literature and culture, and you’re going to love our Ignatius, played by Charlie Talbert.”
The 2019 program includes writer’s craft sessions; scholarly and entertaining panel discussions; theater, food and music events; a scholars conference; breakfast book club; several walking tours; a book fair; and special evening events and social gatherings.
Theater Highlights include three full length productions by local theaters.
The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans, in collaboration with TW/NOLF, will immerse audiences in the hothouse of Tennessee Williams’ psychological thriller, Suddenly Last Summer. Violet Venable, a formidable matriarch, sets out to exact revenge on Catharine Holly. Truth, deceit, and horror intermingle in an overgrown garden where Catharine struggles for her life.
In conjunction with TW/NOLF, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre presents the regional premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann. Based on the one-act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and the controversial 1956 film, Baby Doll is set in the sweltering summer heat of 1950s Mississippi.
Southern Rep Theatre presents the world premiere of New Orleans native playwright Christina Quintana’s evocative new play Azul, directed by Estefanía Fadul. This production is in partnership with Saints+Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival, a project of the TW/NOLF. Facing the loss of her Cuban-born mother, Zelia digs into her legacy and learns of her great-aunt who remained in Cuba for the love of another woman. Echoes of the past inform Zelia’s own relationship with her wife and her struggle to place herself between worlds.
For more intimate theater experiences for Williams fans, the Festival is offering multiple shows at smaller venues. At Beauregard-Keyes House, Jeremy Lawrence will revive his much heralded piece, Everyone Expects Me to Write Another Streetcar, drawn from the words and works of Tennessee Williams. Also at Beauregard-Keyes, Harold Gervais brings Two For Tennessee, original one act plays inspired by the life and legacy of Tennessee Williams, featuring new plays by Becky Retz and Leslie Nipkow.
The NOLA Project will be at MAGS 940 with their very popular Literary Late Night improv show, By Any Scenes Necessary: Long Lost Williams. They will also present Tennessee X Three, a staged reading of “A Perfect Analysis Given By a Parrot,” “The Long Stay Cut Short, or, The Unsatisfactory Supper,” and “The One Exception” by Tennessee Williams.
Special Events include the annual Book Club, “Books and Beignets,” led by Southern scholar Gary Richards, featuring John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces.
Jonathan Mares Productions, in association with TW/NOLF, presents a personal appearance by actor Val Kilmer, who will introduce the film of his one-man play about Mark Twain, Citizen Twain, followed by a question and answer session after the screening at The Joy Theater.
Poppy Tooker will host a culinary event at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House.
Nicole Colbert returns with Last Stop: Desire, a dance/theater adaptation that reimagines Williams’ Streetcar in the 1960s, performed to live music led by New Orleans-based musician Richard Bates.
Rob Florence brings scenes and music from his play, Holy Wars, the story of the nation’s first black Civil War hero, Captain Andre Cailloux, and the only abolitionist priest in the New Orleans archdiocese.
This year the TW/NOLF is proud to introduce a new Storyville walking tour with Dianne Honore, in addition to our Literary Walking Tour and Saints+Sinners LGBTQ Walking Tour.
The annual Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading returns with the theme of “He Was Tom Before He Was Tennessee,” a rare opportunity to hear literary gems by an unknown writer named Thomas Lanier Williams.
Award-winning historian and raconteur Mikko Macchione will partner with Old New Orleans Rum for a cocktail event featuring his book New Orleans Rum: A Decadent History. The talk will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Rose.
Historian David Johnson will interview Kathy McKeon, author of Jackie’s Girl, a memoir about the 13 years she spent as the personal assistant to former first lady Jackie Kennedy.
A Festival tradition for our music enthusiasts, Drummer and Smoke, returns with iconic New Orleans musicians Banu Gibson, The Tin Men, and The New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra led by Lars Edegran. Plus, singer Anais St. John will present her show Lulu White, based on the famous Storyville madam.
Also during the Festival weekend, Saints+Sinners Literary Festival (SAS), our annual LGBTQ literary conference celebrating its 16th year, will feature speakers including Dorothy Allison, Tena Clark, Michael Cunningham, Saskia de Coster, Robert W. Fieseler, Cheryl Head, Andrew Holleran, Silas House, Fay Jacobs, Daniel M. Jaffe, Christina Quintana, Felice Picano, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Suzana Tratnik, Bryan Washington, and many others. Visit sasfest.org for more details.
Venues: Most Festival events take place in New Orleans' historic French Quarter. Sites providing generous support and hosting events include Hotel Monteleone, the Festival’s host hotel; The Historic New Orleans Collection; Williams Research Center; the New Orleans Jazz Museum; Beauregard-Keyes House; The George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center; Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré; Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House; Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant; and Palm Court Jazz Cafe; among others.
Festival Tickets are on sale now. VIP Passes are $600; Literary Discussion Passes are $100 ($70 for students); a One-Day Literary Discussion Pass is $40; theater/special events range from $10-$50; writer’s craft sessions are $25 each; Best Value: Combo Pass $200 (includes all 8 writer’s craft sessions and a Literary Discussion Pass); the Scholars Conference is $20; walking tours are $25-$50. Group rates, available on request, are 20% off for groups of 20 or more. For more information and a full listing of events, visit www.tennesseewilliams.net.
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival celebrates the genius of Tennessee Williams, who once called our city his “spiritual home,” and the contemporary artists who are as honest and unflinching in their examination of the human condition as our patron playwright. Founded in 1986 by a group of cultural enthusiasts, the Festival has grown from a small gathering of 500 to a five-day literary and multi-cultural event, which sees 13,000+ seats filled each year. In late March, we toast Williams’ birthday with theater, literary panels, food, and music events featuring luminaries and the brightest new talents in American arts. For more information, visit www.tennesseewilliams.net or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @TWFestNOLA
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works. Major backing comes from the New Orleans Theatre Association, which supports performing arts throughout the Greater New Orleans area, along with support from The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.