Odd Words: Best of the the Tennessee Williams Fest:Part Two March 21, 2014Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
The Tennessee Williams Festival continues in high gear this weekend, culminating in the annual “Stella” shouting contest. Here are Odd Word’s picks for the Best of the Fest. For the full schedule visit the Festival web site for the full program [INSERT LINK].
Saturday morning at 10 a is a toss-up for your humble editor:
- “Whose Life Is It Anyway” is a panel exploring when and how people are entitled to telling their own stories. To family members and friends biographers can seem like psychic vampires bent on destroying their reputations. Panelists Blake Baily, Thomas Beller, Rich Cohen and Nigel Hamilton discuss their years of historical detective work, hostile and friendly encounters and the literary decisions that made their works as compelling as any novel.
- New Southern Poetry features panelists Lilah Hegnauer, Douglas Ray and L. Lamar Wilson reading from their work and discussing how Southern poetry (and literature in general) has moved from its agrarian and gothic roots toward new paradigms.
At 11:30 the scholars at the Williams Research Center (a venue many casual fest goers often miss) discuss “A Little Piece of Eternity Dropped Into Your Hands”–New Orleans as a Theatrical Setting. Discovering New Orleans was crutical to the development of Tennesee Williams as an artist and an individual. Panelists Foster Hirsch, Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan and Annette Seddik. The panelists will discuss New Orleans not only as a bohemian backdrop for lyric realism or as a metaphor for nonconformity and the unorthodox but as a visual and musical component is some of his more expressionist works.
The festival’s program of plays continues with afternoon matinees of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Le Petit Theatre and The Hotel Plays by Tennessee Williams at the Herman-Grima House, both at 2 p.m.
At 4 p.m. the Fest continues its traditions of bringing directors, actors and family of Williams for a conversation. This year features Diane Ladd, a cousin of Tennessee Williams, actress, director and author. Ladd has drawn three each Oscar and Emmy nomination, won a Golden Globe and three awards for Best Director for her film Mr. Munck. She will discuss her own career and her cousin Tennessee.
Also at 4 pm Odd Words will be at The Great American Literary Journal to see the amazing Roxane Gay with John Freeman, Jonathan Lee and Michelle Wildgen to discuss the hellish circles of submission and rejection, and the trials of publishing from both sides of the process. Freeman is the former editor of Guernica where Jonathan Lee is a senior editor. Wildgren is an executive editor at Tin House.
At 5 pm the Pinckley Prize will be awarded for Crime Fiction Debut. Diana Pinckley was the long time mystery columnist of the Times Picayune. The presentation will be moderated by Susan Larson, former book editor of the former newspaper.. (Odd Words was started almost five years ago whe the T-P folded its book page to pick up the local literary listings).
At 8 pm the Festival offers a Literary Late Night “Elmore Leonard was From Here:A Tribute” in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone. The cost is $20 at the door. The master of crime writing, weterns and dark humor was born in New Orleans and spent the early part of his life here
Sunday offers another full program, with Odd Word’s top pick:The Return of the Essay”. Panelists Hilton Als, Kiese Laymon, Roxane Gay and Dani Shapiro discuss how the Internet has spawned a million Montaignes. The literary essay is enjoying a renaissance and the panelists will discuss how humor plays a role in all of their work despite having written books on topics ranging from “drinking and other Southern pursuits” to a paranoid schizophrenic whose condition is complicated by religions mania. 11:30 am in the Queen Anne Ballroom.
An irresistable panel for dedicated locals will be “New Orleans’ Enduring Traditions” at 10 am in the Queen Anne Ballroom.Panelists include notable locals Rick Barton, Carolyn Kolb, Errol Laborde and Micheal Patick Welch.
At 11 am the Fest hosts staged readings of the 2014 Festival One Act Play contest in La Nouvelle Balroom. Also at 11 am Tennessee Williams short story Gift of an Apple is presented as a play Gift of an Orange by award-winning playwright Charlene A. Donaghy. At the Herman-Grimma House.
At 1 pm the Louisiana Humanities Council celebrates the 25th anniversary of their magazine Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Executive editor David Johnson leads a panel including contributors Sally Asher, Richard Campanella and Ben Sandmel.
As I am writing this on my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard at The Kerry Irish Pub, and for all of the festival attendee who show up early for the morning panels in desperate need of coffee, I should throw in Sprited Tipplers in New Orleans, Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce and Richard Read–authors of The French Quarter Drinking Companion–recount their journey through one of America’s most notable drinking neighborhood.
The Festival’s public events conclude of course with the Stella and Shanley Shouting Contest at 4:15 pm in Jackson Square. Contestants vie to rival Stanley Kowalski’s shout for STELAAAAAA!!!! in the unforgettable scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Women are invited to reverse the role and yell for Stanley.