A Confederacy of Dunces Staged Reading,
Ballet and Burlesque, Award-Winning Writers,
All Slated for the 2019 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
NEW ORLEANS—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, Roy Blount, Jr., Doug Brinkley, Greg Brownderville, Robert Olen Butler, Maureen Corrigan, Michael Cunningham, John Guare, Silas House, Bernice L. McFadden, Daniel José Older, Julia Reed, Nathaniel Rich, Hannah Pittard, Wendy Corsi Staub, 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 dynamic staged reading 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 the staged reading of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, adapted for the stage by New Orleans scholar Kenneth Holditch. Directed by Francine Segal, this production will include costumes, projections, and music of the 1960s. 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 and 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.
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.
Poppy Tooker will host a culinary event at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House featuring food from Pascal's Manale, the focus of her latest book.
Nicole Colbert returns to the Festival 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.
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 and 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.
A new Festival addition, the AllWays Lounge presents Tennessee Strip, a burlesque tribute to the characters of our beloved playwright. Characters from Tennessee’s most beloved plays including A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly This Summer and many more, will come to life in short vignettes that climax in a sexy strip tease.
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.
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.
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 will go on sale in January. 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.