2015 Press Release


2015 Press Release

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Unveils Most Ambitious Program to Date,

March 25-29, 2015

NEW ORLEANS – For almost three decades, the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival has claimed the historic French Quarter at the end of March to celebrate its eponymous playwright, his works and literary life in the adopted city he called his “spiritual home.”  From its modest beginnings in 1986, it has expanded into a five-day fête featuring two days of master classes; a roster of lively discussions among distinguished panelists; celebrity interviews; theater, food and music events; a scholars’ conference; short fiction, poetry and one-act play competitions; a breakfast book club; French Quarter literary walking tours; a book fair; and special evening events and social gatherings.  The 29th annual event is slated for March 25-29, 2015.

To set the stage, visit this clip from the March 2014 event: http://vimeo.com/nolafugees/twf-2014

“With more authors participating and an expanded variety of events, this is our most ambitious program in the Festival’s history,” said Executive Director Paul Willis. “We are excited to welcome old friends and new attendees, including the American Theater Critics Association and the National Association of Schools of Theatre who have timed their New Orleans conventions to dovetail with the Festival.”

Some of the illustrious participants on board to share their talents are:

Molly Antopol, short story collection writer (The UnAmericans) and judge of the Festival’s 2015 Short Fiction Contest;

Brenda Currin, Obie winner (My Sister in This House), also recognized for her work in film (In Cold Blood) and adaptations of Eudora Welty’s stories to the stage;            

Amy Dickinson, NPR commentator and syndicated advice columnist (“Ask Amy”);            

General Russel Honoré, author and CNN contributor who led the Department of Defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita;            

John Lahr, senior drama critic at the The New Yorker and author of a new biography, Tennessee  Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, a 2014 National Book Award finalist;            

Laila Lalami, fiction and non-fiction author and linguist whose new historical novel is The Moor’s Account;            

Laura Lippman, award-winning author of detective fiction whose recent work, After I’m Gone, garnered this comment from Kirkus Reviews: “Lippman is a bet you just can’t lose;”

Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review and By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life, to be published in October;            

Michael Pitre, a former Marine with two tours of duty in Iraq whose debut novel is Fives and Twenty-Fives;

John Patrick Shanley, multiple award-winning playwright/screenwriter/director (Doubt, Moonstruck);

Martin Sherman, dramatist and screenwriter best known for the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play Bent, one of 20 of his works produced in over 55 countries;

Vijay Seshadri, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for 3 Section: Poems and judge of the Festival’s 2015 Poetry Contest; and

John Waters, inimitable filmmaker, writer, stand-up comedian and artist, who wrote the introduction to the 2006 edition of Tennessee Williams’ Memoirs.

Literary highlights include spirited panel discussions on a wide range of topics: “Sweet and Savage: Writing the Women of the South,” “The Warrior as Writer: Literature of Recent Wars,” and “Writing Alone, Growing Together: Creating Your Own Literary Community,” to name a few. Illuminating several milestones, conversations will focus on the decade since Hurricane Katrina as well as the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.  The popular Breakfast Book Club will discuss and toast Carson McCullers’ celebrated novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, now in its 75th year. And programmers are cooking up an event at Antoine’s, the fabled French-Creole restaurant, which marks its 175th anniversary in 2015. And 2015 marks the first year Saints and Sinners, an annual LGBT literary event held in May, will merge with its TWFest-affiliate. Visit sasfest.com for more details.

Eight master classes for writers and avid readers feature noted authors and editors who share literary tips, techniques and current industry trends.  This year, experts will weigh in on how to manage a literary career, craft essays people will talk about, get your story published, and more.  

Theater events include Suddenly, Last Summer, Tennessee Williams’ classic play, which was set in New Orleans.  Presented in partnership with Southern Rep, it will star Brenda Currin as Violet Venable, the cruel and dominating society matron who attempts to lobotomize her niece to cover up the truth about her son’s violent death.  As with most of Williams’ works, the play raises bold questions about mental illness, sexuality, guilt and the search for truth. Due to rave reviews and sold-out performances at the 2014 Fest, “The Hotel Plays” by Tennessee Williams will return. Presented by the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, a new slate of one-acts that Williams set in hotels and boarding houses will take audience members from room to room at the historic Hermann-Grima House, guaranteeing a theatrical experience not to be missed.

The NOLA Project theater company will stage a professional reading of “I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays,” a short dark comedy that eventually morphed into part of Vieux Carré, Williams’ full-length play, also set in New Orleans.  Additionally, led by improv comedy maven Cecile LeMoyne, NOLA Project will present “By Any Scenes Necessary,” fast-paced rollicking improv dedicated to Tennessee. Rounding out the Williams marquée, Festival celebrities will gather at the Old Ursuline Convent to stage a spiritual-themed tribute to Tennessee, reading selections of his work and their own words at this religious landmark completed in 1752.

Music enlivens the program with “Drummer & Smoke,” a series of Sunday offerings, including a session with Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque and musician Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes collaborating in a spoken word and musical tribute to the late Amédé Ardoin, a Creole musician who was among the first to be recorded in a style later known as Zydeco.

Food events bring added zest and flavor to the offerings.  At one gathering, Bryant Terry will parse recipes and offer samples from his new book, Afro-Vegan.

It’s a Scream!  Festival-goers won’t want to miss the riotous closing ceremony, the Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest, a playful homage to the bellowing mates in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Most of the 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; Hermann-Grima House; Old Ursuline Convent; Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré; Tableau Restaurant; Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant; Antoine’s Restaurant; and Palm Court Jazz Café; among others.

A Festival Panel Pass is $75 ($60 for students); a One-Day Pass is $30; theater/special events range from $10-$100; master classes are $25; the Scholars Conference is $20; walking tours are $25. Group rates on request. Group rates are 20% off for groups of five or more.

For more information, call 504-581-1144 or visit our website.

Media Contact: Ellen Johnson 504.283.3227 / ejjester@aol.com