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Odd Words: A Weekend with Tennessee Williams March 22, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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Here are my weekend picks for the TW Fest. For the complete list, visit the Festival schedule online.

This is supposed to be the weekend listings for the Festival, but I’m going to start out with the last event of Friday Night because this just sounds too good to miss.

Friday

& Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn Think you know New Orleans? Explore the city of yore through a variety show that brings to life the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who in the late 1800s gave New Orleans its provocative reputation for Voodoo mystery, exotic cuisine, and a fecund underbelly.

In this choreographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project present artists from the burgeoning Bywater/Marigny theater and performance scene in the heart of the St. Claude arts district. Experience the city’s resilient literary culture while looking back at a figure who left an indelible mark on the world’s image of New Orleans.

& Also on Friday and omitted in the earlier listing (for shame): A Reading from the Poetry and Fiction Contests with Judges Amy Hempel and Julie Kane Why not kick-off the weekend with something new? As part of our organization’s mission to encourage and support new talent, the Festival turns an eye to the next voices in American letters with a reading from our 2012 Fiction and Poetry Contest winners. Hundreds of entries poured into our offices from around the world from writers who have yet to publish a book in their genre.

& Tennessee Williams, Gerontologist? Almost all of his life Williams expressed anxiety over growing old and the ravaging effects of time, and towards the end of his life he became virtually obsessed with aging. Come join us for a discussion to discover how the author depicts the superannuated years in both the comic and tragic veins. 10 a.m. at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

No doubt this will be a panel on Big Daddy, Violet and other elderly characters, but it puts me in mind of the annual panel I think of as I Knew Tennessee, and the dwindling pole of panelists. Seeing Edward Albee last year was fantastic, but I can’t help but think it will soon be reduced to children he once patted on the head walking down the street.

& The Right to Write: Blacklisting and Its Repercussions The way things are going in this country lately, you probably want to hear how the blacklist ruined dozens of careers during its heyday from the late 1940s until the early 1960s. Panelists will put blacklisting in a historic context, discuss the impact on its victims, and identify some of its lingering effects. Panelists: Michael Bernstein, Lou Dubose, and Victor Navasky Moderator: John Pope. Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone Hotel.

& Intimate and Confidential: Detailing a Moment in History When dealing with history, sometimes it’s more interesting to think small. This can be especially true when dealing with the larger-than-life figures of American Presidents. In this panel, four writers discuss how they used telling details to examine the histories writ large on our political landscape. 11:30 a.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom.

& Nick Spitzer: Music in the Cultural Conversation Tulane University professor Nick Spitzer is the creator and voice of the public radio gem of a music program, American Routes. Now in its 14th year, American Routes reaches over half a million listeners on 267 outlets, largely because of Spitzer’s unique insights into the way music plays an integral role in our communal life. Whether he’s talking about the bluesmen of Mississippi, the brass bands of New Orleans, a rollicking Tejano band or a worshipping gospel group, Spitzer brings his terrific knowledge to bear on the special ways music both reflects and creates community identity and spirit. Sit back and listen to a man who’s truly a master of the music. 2:30 p.m., La Nouvelle Room, Monteleone.

& Spark and Fire: Poetry Readings Award-winning Louisiana poets Ava Leavell Haymon (Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Prize), Benjamin Morris (Chancellor’s Medal for Poetry/University of Cambridge), and Alison Pelegrin (Akron Poetry Prize) join Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane (Donald Justice Poetry Prize) in a reading and discussion about where the poem originates and how it gets made by frictions as diverse as memory, social criticism, climate change, archetype, natural-cultural-political disaster, and fabulism. Panelist/Readers : Ava Leavell Haymon, Julie Kane, Benjamin Morris, and Alison Pelegrin. Moderator: Darrell Bourque. 2:30 p.m. Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant.

& Broomstick by John Biguenet This staged reading is directed by George Judy, Artistic Director of Swine Palace, and features Cristine McMurdo-Wallis. In Broomstick, a witch confesses all: her first love affair, how she discovered her powers, how she has used them. But more than that, it is a funny and frightening return to our childhoods, where we first wrestled with evil and justice. For the witch is a completely unsentimental moralist who knows everything about the human heart — having been both its victim and avenger all her long life — and who metes out inexorable justice, immune to our pleas for mercy, cackling at our excuses. In Broomstick, whiners wind up in casseroles. 6:00 p.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Monteleone.

Sunday

& The final day kicks off with Staged Reading of the 2012 Festival One-Act Play Contest Winner
Communication Arts presents a reading of the winning entry in the 2012 Festival’s national One-Act Play Contest. The Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of New Orleans administers and coordinates the competition judging. The winning playwright receives a $1,500 cash prize.10 a.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom at the Monteleone.

& A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana Commissioned by the Bicentennial Commission, A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana, is a beautiful new book featuring the work of approximately 275 artists and photographers. Editors Michael Sartisky, Ph.D., president of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanties (LEH); and J. Richard Gruber, Ph.D., director emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art appear with art collector and philanthropist Roger Ogden and artist George Rodrigue to discuss this important work. Panelists: J. Richard Gruber, Roger Ogden, and George Rodrigue. Moderator: Michael Sartisky 10 a.m. in the Royal Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& An Autobiography About My Brother by Justin Kuritzkes Andrew’s brother is about to be executed for killing 25 people. On the eve of his brother’s execution, Andrew looks back on his own life, his brother’s, and the places where they intersect. Also, Andrew lies a lot. The University of New Orleans Department of Film, Theatre, and Communication Arts presents the premiere production of the winning play in the Festival’s 2011 One-Act Play Contest. 11 a.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& Walker Percy: A Documentary Film Pulitzer Prize winner Walker Percy has said his concerns as a writer were with “a theory of man, man as more than organism, more than consumer — man the wayfarer, man the pilgrim, man in transit, on a journey.” And with time-honored classics such as The Moviegoer, the physician turned writer’s wry observations about the meaning of life have long-delighted readers. Festival-goers have the chance to gain a new perspective on one of the South’s greatest literary voices with this special screening of a new documentary about the author.

Through archival film, excerpts of Percy’s work, and interviews with family, friends and scholars, Walker Percy: A Documentary, examines Percy’s own journey. Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Win Riley, the film lets audiences become true “Moviegoers” as they learn from this formidable talent. 11:30 am at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

& Talking Tennessee with Piper Laurie, Bryan Batt, and Christian LeBlanc Join these talented actors as they recount their experiences with Tennessee Williams’ words and works. They’ll discuss our namesake’s imprint on American theater, as well as his inspiration to them as actors. A highlight of the discussion will be Ms. Laurie reminiscing about her time playing the role of Laura Wingfield in the acclaimed 1965 revival of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway opposite Maureen Stapleton’s Amanda, Pat Hingle’s Gentleman Caller, and George Grizzard’s Tom. Facilitated by Foster Hirsch. 1 p.m. in the Royal Ballroom at the Monteleone.

& Cityscapes: Writing the American City in Fact and Fiction Writing about the American city poses special problems and offers particular pleasures, whether you’re a novelist, memoirist, or historian. Of course, writers about New York have the pre- and post-9/11 dilemma, just as writers about New Orleans always write in the shadow of Katrina. Larry Powell discusses his brand new work of history about New Orleans, The Accidental City; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts talks about writing Harlem is Nowhere; Laura Lippman describes the real city of Baltimore she depicts in her novels; and Susan Larson, who has been reading books about New Orleans for 25 years, moderates. Panelists: Laura Lippman, Larry Powell, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts. Moderator: Susan Larson. 1 p.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom at the Monteleone. You can pretty much count on seeing me there. I’m the old fart in a young man’s hat down in front.

& Laugh and the World Reads with You — Favorite Comic Novels
We read books for many reasons — for enlightenment, for instruction, and for consolation. But we also read to be amused, to be diverted and taken out of ourselves. Every reader’s known the joy of laughing out loud at a funny sentence, then sharing it with an inquiring onlooker. National Book Critics Circle president Jane Ciabattari leads writers in a discussion of favorite comic novels. Bring your favorites too! Panelists: Joshua Clark, Amy Dickinson, Jewelle Gomez and Ted O’Brien. Moderator: Jane Ciabattari. Just taking a wild flyer here, but I think Confederacy of Dunces may come up. Let me know as I’ll be at Streetcar and miss this one. 2:30 p.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& And of course, with Festival closes out with Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest Contestants vie to rival Stanley Kowalski’s shout for “STELLAAAAA!!!” in the unforgettable scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Women contestants are welcome to try a little role reversal and yell for Stanley. Free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded. 4:15 p.m. on the Pontalbla Building gallery on the Canal Street side.

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