28th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literacy Festival to Feature HOTEL PLAYS, GREEN EYES & More, 3/19-23
With the reopening of one of the country's oldest community theaters and some unique staging in unexpected venues, New Orleans' historic French Quarter will pulse with productions of Tennessee Williams' works, as well as some inspired by or dedicated to the legendary playwright and his life in the city he considered his "spiritual home."
The plays being featured in the festival are as follows:
HOTEL PLAYS by Tennessee Williams
Williams set many of his plays in hotel rooms and boarding houses: way stations between life and death, dream and reality. The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival brings three short plays by Williams set in such rooms. Gather at the historic Hermann-Grima House and proceed from room to room to experience Williams up-close and personal.
THE TRAVELING COMPANION: Jeremy Lawrence and Matt Story perform this intimate drama. It's an intense debate between a younger man (Beau, an inexperienced hustler full of sexual potency) and an older man (Vieux, a neurotic, insecure writer).
MR. PARADISE: Featuring the fabulous artistry of New Orleans actors including Francesca McKenzie, a young woman who seeks inspiration from a reclusive writer. Mr. Paradise is co-produced with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.
A special event, HOTEL PLAYS will run Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hermann Grima House (820 St. Louis Street) Tickets are $100 with limited seating. A reception will follow. Additional performances will be Thursday, March 20 at 4 p.m.; Friday, March 21 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 22 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 with limited seating.
GIFT OF AN ORANGE by Charlene A. Donaghy
A hitchhiker down on his luck falls off the beaten path in Tennessee Williams' short story, "Gift of an Apple" (written in 1936). Award-winning playwright Charlene A. Donaghy, inspired by images of a young man's innocence and an older woman's desires, has written Gift of an Orange in response to Williams' story. The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival brings to life this play, published in Best American Short Plays, which also featured Williams' first published play "Moony's Kid Don't Cry" in 1940. This sensual, bold play with music is set in the wilderness of the Louisiana bayou. The pulse of drumbeats and the smell of bursting oranges welcome the Festival audience to a mystical world in the hidden courtyard at the historic Hermann-Grima House, an oasis in the heart of the French Quarter. GIFT OF AN ORANGE is produced by the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. It will run Thursday, March 20 at 2 p.m.; Friday, March 21 at 4 p.m.; Saturday, March 22 at 4 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23 at 11 a.m. at the Hermann-Grima House. Tickets are $25.
VIVIEN written by Rick Foster and starring Judith Chapman
Judith Chapman returns to the Festival in Vivien with her portrayal of two-time Oscar-winning film star Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire and Gone With the Wind). This one-woman show is a journey into the triumph and madness of Vivien Leigh. Vivien is presented in association with Troubadours of Daytime and produced by Racquel Lehrman & Victoria Watson of Theatre Planners. It will be directed by Thomas Rolapp. Vivien will run Thursday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include a reception provided by Dickie Brennan's Tableau. There will be an additional performance on Saturday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre (616 St. Peter Street). Tickets are $25.
THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA by Tennessee Williams
Three women...one man...one night! A disgraced Reverend seeking refuge in alcohol and carnality. A woman of extraordinary grace who nonetheless feels forlorn and abandoned. In The Night of the Iguana, troubled souls navigate faith, sex and sin in an attempt to save one another before they reach the end of their rope. On stage together for the first time since the award-winning A Streetcar Named Desire, Mike Harkins and Aimée Hayes star with Idella Johnson and Bob Edes, Jr. in the famous confession drama considered to be Tennessee Williams' last great play. Directed by Phil Karnell. For the festival weekend, performances will be Thursday-Saturday, March 20-22 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23 at 2 p.m. THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA is produced by Southern Rep Theatre at The Art Klub, 527 Elysian Fields Avenue. Get tickets at www.SouthernRep.com or (504) 522.6545. Additional performances are March 12 - April 6.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams
The TW/NOLF presents a NOLA Project production: For the first time in over a decade, the Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is brought back to thrilling life on the New Orleans stage by The NOLA Project theater company. Greed, sins of the past, and desperate clawing hopes for the future spar with one another in the poetic Southern world that only Tennessee Williams can conjure. Come see this sultry, raw, and uninhibited production come to new life as only The NOLA Project can conjure. Beau Bratcher (A Truckload of Ink, The Night of the Iguana) directs a starry New Orleans cast headed up by James Yeargain, Cecile Monteyne, Randy Cheramie, and Yvette Hargis. For festival weekend performances will be Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 22 at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23 at 6 p.m. Additional performances will be held March 27-29 at 7:30 p.m.; and a matinee performance on Saturday, March 29 at 2 p.m. Performances will be held at Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, $30.
"THE PLACE THAT I WAS MADE FOR" - TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' LOVE AFFAIR WITH NEW ORLEANS
On December 28, 1938, upon arriving in New Orleans for the first time, Williams wrote in his diary: "I am delighted, in fact, enchanted with this glamorous, fabulous old town. I've been here about three hours but have already wandered about the Vieux Carré and noted many exciting possibilities. Here surely is the place that I was made for if any place on this funny old world." His love affair with the city continued for the rest of his life and no matter where he lived or how far he traveled, Williams made it quite clear that New Orleans was his spiritual home. Reading excerpts from Williams' letters, essays, short stories, plays, and journals, actresses Diane Ladd and Brenda Currin, Festival board members and actors, Janet Daley Duval and David Hoover, author Julia Reed, theater critic Hilton Als, and novelists Dorothy Allison and Justin Torres will share some of the most sparkling, striking, side-splitting stories and observations the playwright made about the city he called his "spiritual home." The event will be curated by Paul J. Willis and Thomas Keith, and hosted by Keith. "THE PLACE THAT I WAS MADE FOR" will play Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street. Tickets are $35.
STAGED READING OF THE 2014 FESTIVAL ONE-ACT PLAY CONTEST WINNER
The Festival is proud to showcase the winning play of this year's One-Act Play Contest through a dynamic staged reading of the script. The winner receives a $1,500 cash prize. This event is presented by the University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theatre. The Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of New Orleans administers and coordinates the competition judging. The reading will take place Sunday, March 23 at 11 a.m. at the Hotel Monteleone La Nouvelle Ballroom, 214 Royal Street. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
"FATHER" by Frederick Mensch
The University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theatre presents the premiere production of "Father" by Frederick Mensch, winner of the Festival's 2013 One-Act Play Contest. In "Father," Peter Snowden and his older sister Vicki are the only mourners at the wake of their estranged and abusive father, Robert. They share memories of an unhappy childhood but are forced to confront the possibility that their father may have changed when they learn of his unlikely, late-in-life friendship with a young, amiable funeral home director, David Kennedy. An unsentimental family drama in the Tennessee Williams tradition, "Father" explores themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the possibility of change. The play will be performed Sunday, March 23 at 12 p.m. at Hotel Monteleone" La Nouvelle Ballroom, 214 Royal Street. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
EN AVANT! - TENNESSEE WILLIAMS IN HIS OWN WORDS - Performed and arranged by Jeremy Lawrence - ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY!
"I couldn't face a day without writing." Tennessee Williams once wrote. In this performance piece, Tennessee talks about his work: "my great joy," actors, "the flesh and blood that keeps me alive," and the theater itself: "The fourth wall of a stage is an open space through which we cry out our longings and confessions and confusions to each other." He is outrageous and confessional, hilarious, and unrelentingly passionate about his need as an "unregenerate romantic" to pursue the "fantastic," to overcome critics, his own doubts and above all, to keep working- "Make voyages, attempt them, there is nothing else." EN AVANT! will play Sunday, March 23 at 2:30 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street. Tickets are $25.
Other theater-related events will include:
THE 19TH ANNUAL TENNESSEE WILLIAMS SCHOLARS CONFERENCE - Friday, March 21, 9:15 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. at Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street. Admission is $20 for Scholars Conference Pass.
BREAKFAST BOOK CLUB (Special Event)
This year the Breakfast Book Club commemorates the 70th anniversary of The Glass Menagerie, the play that brought Tennessee Williams what he deemed "the catastrophe of success." Set in Depression-era St Louis, this "memory play" centers on the tensions between aging Southern belle Amanda Wingfield and her two adult children, Laura and Tom. Featuring the magnificent Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, the play opened in Chicago on December 26, 1944 to glowing reviews. After moving to New York the following March, the production ran for almost a year and a half. Since then, The Glass Menagerie has had six Broadway revivals (most recently with Cherry Jones as Amanda), multiple film adaptations, and countless regional productions. To celebrate this landmark of U.S. theater and perhaps to see it with fresh eyes, attendees are invited to purchase the New Directions edition of the play (ISBN: 978-0811214049) and read it for the group's communal discussion over coffee and a light breakfast. Southern literary scholar Gary Richards facilitates the discussion. The Breakfast Book Club will take place Saturday, March 22 at 8 a.m. at Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant, 801 Chartres Street. Admission is $25. Seating is limited to 50 persons and pre-registration is required.
"ONE GREAT GOOD TRUE THING" - THE ENDURANCE OF CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (panel)
Cat on Hot Tin Roof first heated up audiences on Broadway with its sensual and emotional intensity in 1955. The iconic 1958 movie version starring Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat, Paul Newman as Brick, and Burl Ives as Big Daddy only served to increase the popularity of the play. After six decades, hundreds of revivals world-wide, and the positive attention received by the recent African-American Broadway production, Cat has proven to be more universal than perhaps first appreciated. From the questions of multiple endings to the influence of Elia Kazan to the ongoing debate about Brick's sexual orientation, Cat has inspired, intrigued, and provoked audiences and critics alike. Panelists include Beau Bratcher, Robert Bray, Thomas Keith, and Brenda Murphy. Barton Palmer will moderate. The panel will take place Saturday, March 22 at 10 a.m. at Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
"A LITTLE PIECE OF ETERNITY DROPPED INTO YOUR HANDS" - NEW ORLEANS AS A THEATRICAL SETTING (panel)
Discovering New Orleans, the most atypical of American cities, was crucial to the development ofTennessee Williams as an artist and an individual. So it is not surprising that the playwright used the French Quarter and the Garden District as locations for three of his most famous and personal plays-A Streetcar Named Desire, Suddenly Last Summer, and Vieux Carré-as well as ten one-act plays including Green Eyes, Mister Paradise, And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens, and The Mutilated. Panelists will discuss Williams' theatrical depiction of 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 in some of his more expressionistic works. Williams' theatrical New Orleans, like the real New Orleans, is a world where distinctions of race, class, religion, and nationality also allow for an intermingling and fusion that is unique in America. Panelists will include Foster Hirsch, Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan, and Annette Saddik. Thomas Keith will moderate. the panel will take place Saturday, March 22 at 11:30 a.m. atWilliams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' WOMEN - LEADING LADIES IN HIS LIFE (panel)
The playwright is most famous for his female characters, sometimes inspired by the women he knew best. While most people have heard about Tennessee's mother, Edwina, and his sister, Rose, this panel will explore his relationships with fascinating women as diverse as his kind and nurturing grandmother Rosina O. Dakin, dedicated agent Audrey Wood, the "Texas Tornado" director Margo Jones, fiery Italian actress Anna Magnani, and his lifelong friend and confident Jane Smith, among others. These women who knew and loved Tennessee may not all be well known, but through his friendships and professional relationships with them, Williams was challenged, championed, and cared for. Panelists will include John Bak, Robert Bray, Brenda Murphy, and David Savran. Annette Saddik will moderate. The panel will take place Saturday, March 22 at 1 p.m. at Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
A CONVERSATION WITH DIANE LADD - Interviewed by Foster Hirsch
A cousin of Tennessee Williams, actress, director, and author Diane Ladd has taken her literary roots and flair for drama to astounding heights, including three Oscar nominations, three Emmy nominations, one Golden Globe and two nominations, three awards for Best Director for her film Mrs. Munck, and three published books. Ladd has worked with some of the best in show business including Robert DeNiro, Jane Fonda, and David Lynch. She is best known for her roles as Flo in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Marietta Fortune in Wild at Heart (1990), and Mother in Rambling Rose (1991). Join us as author and film critic Foster Hirsh interviews Ladd on her astounding career, Tennessee Williams, and much more! Following her interview, she will sign copies of her three books available for sale at the Festival's on-site book fair. A CONVERSATION WITH DIANE LADD will take place Saturday, March 22 at 4 p.m. at Hotel Monteleone's Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street. Admission is allowed with a Festival Panel Pass* or is $10 at the door.
STANLEY AND STELLA SHOUTING CONTEST (Closing Event)
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. Prizes will be awarded. The contest will take place Sunday, March 23 at 4:15 p.m. at Jackson Square, Upriver side. The contest is free and open to the public.
A Festival Panel Pass is $75 ($60 for students); a One-Day Pass is $30. For more information, call 504-581-1144 or 800-990-3378 (FEST) or visit www.tennesseewilliams.net for ticket purchase, regular updates and information on how to become a "Friend of Tennessee."