John Patrick Shanley, John Lahr and More to Headline 2015 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, 3/25-29

By: Feb. 26, 2015
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Theater luminaries John Patrick Shanley, Keir Dullea, Mia Dillon, Martin Sherman, Brenda Currin, John Lahr, John Waters, Bryan Batt and Joel Vig are just a few of the illustrious headliners who will participate in the 29th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, March 25-29, 2015.

Currin appears as Violet Venable in Williams' play, Suddenly Last Summer. Partners on stage and in real life, Dullea and Dillon will be interviewed by Foster Hirsch about their recent performances as Big Daddy and Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as well as Dullea's turn as Brick in the 1974 Broadway revival.

John Lahr will speak with Williams scholar Robert Bray about his definitive biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which Helen Mirren called "a masterpiece about a genius." In his one-man show, "Truman Talks Tennessee," Vig plays Truman Capote near the end of his life as he recalls one of the most important friendships of his life with America's greatest playwright

Most will participate in a TW Birthday Bash and, the following night, in tribute readings that relate to the struggles and triumphs of the spirit at the Old Ursuline Convent in the heart of New Orleans French Quarter.

Here, in chronological order:


Set in the Garden District of New Orleans, Tennessee Williams' masterwork, Suddenly Last Summer, follows a wealthy society matron, Violet Venable, who attempts to lobotomize her niece Catherine in a struggle to cover up the truth about her son Sebastian's sudden death. When her doctor tries to unravel the mystery, will Catherine share the shocking and terrible truth of what happened, or succumb to the pressure to protect the legacy of a powerful family? Directed by Southern Rep Theatre's Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes, and featuring Brenda Currin, Beth Bartley, and Carol Sutton among others, Suddenly Last Summer raises bold questions about mental illness, sexuality, guilt, brutality, and the search for truth.

Produced by Southern Rep Theatre in partnership with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.

Festival Weekend: March 25 - March 28 at 8:00 p.m. with matinee performances on Saturday, March, 28 & Sunday, March 29 at 3:00 p.m.

Ashé Powerhouse Theater, 1731 Baronne Street.

Get tickets at or (504) 522.6545.

Additional Performances: March 4 - April 5.


Until Gabriel's horn or the trumpets of a Mardi Gras parade blow, the rooms of the historic Hermann-Grima House Museum echo with history as the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival kicks off its 10th season with New Orleans actors Desiree Ledet, Kathryn Talbot, and Francesca McKenzie (among others) performing Lord Byron's Love Letter, The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, Mister Paradise, and The Last of My Solid Gold Watches. Williams' one-act plays offer poetry and the rented beds of the Vieux Carre as a refuge between bat- tles with the enemy-Time. David Kaplan curates these corners to rest in for a dreaming floozie, a reclusive poet, an abandoned lover, and a hollowed out salesman.

Co-produced with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

Thursday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m.; Friday, March 27 at 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.;

Saturday, March 28 at 12:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 29 at 1:30 p.m.

Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis Street, $30.


On March 26, 2015, Tennessee would have celebrated his 104th birthday! We mark this milestone with an evening of powerful performances by actors including Keir Dullea-who commanded the stage as Brick in the 1974 Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof-and Tony Award nominee Mia Dillon, who will reprise their recent tour-de-force performances as Big Daddy and Big Mama. Among the other talented actors sharing the stage to perform scenes and monologues will be board president and Festival favorite, Janet Daley Duval, Southern Rep's artistic director Aimée Hayes, and New Orleans' own Mad Men star, Bryan Batt. And what birthday celebration is complete without cake? We'll have your piece waiting.

Thursday, March 26 at 6:30 P.M.

Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, $25.


This year, the Old Ursuline Convent-our nation's oldest standing example of the French Colonial Period which holds pride of place as the oldest building (completed in 1752) in the Mississippi river valley-will pro- vide the backdrop for our annual Tennessee Williams tribute reading. Williams spent much of his childhood under the wing of his beloved grandfather, the Rev. Edwin Dakin, an Episcopal minister who served com- munities throughout Mississippi and Tennessee and whose influence on Williams is most evident in the com- passion, redemption, and insight into human suffering that flows through the body and soul of Williams' dramatic work. These luminous readings will be comprised of scenes, monologues, poetry, and correspondence of Williams that relate to the struggles and triumphs of the spirit. Readers include author and cult filmmaker John Waters; playwright Martin Sherman; veteran stage and screen actors Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon; and John Patrick Shanley, who will read excerpts from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt. Also joining our cast are author/columnist "Ask" Amy Dickinson, and glamorous thriller writer Rebecca Chance.

Curated by Paul J. Willis and Thomas Keith, and hosted by Keith.

Friday, March 27 at 8:30 p.m.

The Old Ursuline Convent, 1112 Chartres Street, $35.


The NOLA Project Theatre company will present a brand new theatre/improv hybrid, "By Any Scenes Necessary: A Streetcar Named Desire," featuring Cecile Monteyne, the genius mind behind the popular show You Don't Know the Half of It. Actors and long-form improvisers will come together to hilariously recreate the Williams classic drama on stage without a script and with genre suggestions given to them by YOU, the audience!

Friday, March 27, 10:30 p.m.

Cafe Istanbul, 2372 St. Claude Avenue, $10.


Professional Staged Reading of the 2014 Festival One-Act Play Contest Winner

A biology professor reluctantly attends a dinner party at the request of his wife, who encourages him to develop his otherwise shoddy people skills. But as the dialogues evolve around him, the biologist is increasingly irritated by the inefficient and shameful social behavior of the human being. And when a self-appointed dominant male seeks to corner his competition, the professor naturally resorts to violent animal instincts, exposing one reality of what it takes to master the fine art of conversation.

Saturday, March 28 at 1 p.m.

Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.


as performed by Claudia Baumgarten and directed by Diana Shortes.

"The Waltz" is a short story by Dorothy Parker written in the form of an interior monologue, one of her favorite writing styles. Its clever humor and irony, the flippant yet incisive phrase, her self-deprecation and the tug-of- war between the sexes all combine to create a witty and truthful story-as true today as when it was published in The New Yorker in September, 1933. Actor Claudia Baumgarten creates theater out of prose and offers the opportunity to hear Dorothy Parker's words, laugh at her jokes and ponder the human condition we all share. Mrs. Parker's forceful tone, countered by her frustration and seeming powerlessness, combine to create an intricate and hilarious piece. The dichotomy of life, as Mrs. Parker viewed it, is on full display in this performance of "The Waltz." Q&A to follow.

Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m.

Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, $20.


"I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark On Sundays" is another clever art imitating life example from our treasured Tennessee. This one-act play has fragments that would evolve into Vieux Carré. In this short play, we meet Jane-a fallen Yankee society girl dying of leukemia-and Tye-a vulgar but appealing strip joint barker. Life in the Big Easy is anything but for these two tragic characters. Williams unmasks the comedy in this distressed relationship and the creation of its story by moving the audience between two fights: the director, playwright and stage manager's arguments over the development of the script and the painful fights of a couple in a seemingly-doomed relationship. Award-winning director Beau Bratcher (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana, A Truckload of Ink) directs this staged reading starring members of the NOLA Project ensemble. Williams scholar and editor Thomas Keith will provide an introduction to the reading with context about the genesis and later incarnations of this intriguing one-act.

Saturday, March 28 at 7 p.m.

Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, $20.


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, Theatre, and Communication Arts. The Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of New Orleans administers and coordinates the competition judging.

Sunday, March 29 at 1 p.m.

Hotel Monteleone, La Nouvelle Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.


Broadway veteran Joel Vig returns to the New Orleans Tennessee Williams with Truman Talks Tennessee. In this one-man show of his own creation, Vig plays Truman Capote near the end of his life as he recalls one of the most important friendships of his life with America's greatest playwright. Both Capote and Williams were as eccentric as they were unforgettable and the story of their friendship (with a wild supporting cast of famous friends and enemies) is as outrageous and bizarre as anything that either of them ever wrote. It is particularly appropriate that the premiere of this piece will happen in New Orleans, Capote's hometown, and at the Monteleone Hotel, which Capote loved to claim as the site where he was conceived.

Sunday, March 29 at 2:30 p.m.

Hotel Monteleone, La Nouvelle Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, $20.



Friday, March 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, $20 for Scholars Conference Pass or Free with Festival Panel Pass*.

See information and complete schedule at end of this document.


Visionary filmmaker and one-of-a- kind personality John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Female Trouble, and Hairspray) is bringing his show "John Waters: This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier" to New Orleans, presented in a presentation by Daniel Nardicio. Waters takes on taboo topics as only he can do in this hilarious and completely uncensored one-man show. Waters, who has been dubbed "the Pope of Trash" and branded "O for Offensive" by the Catholic Church, earned his bad reputation by turning bad taste into high art. Part confession, part Vaudeville act, he'll share his origins in the trash genre and his subsequent adventures.

Thursday, March 26, 8:30 p.m.

The Joy Theater, 1200 Canal Street.

Tickets available at or 504-528.9569.


John Waters' wry eye on pop culture has resulted in some of America's most beloved cult films. The Pope of Trash decided to put his finger on the pulse of contemporary culture by hitchhiking across America, from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco, armed with no more than his sardonic wit and a sign saying "I'M NOT A PSYCHO." The book Carsick is an account of what he found. Another Baltimore icon, award-winning bestseller Laura Lippman, sits down with him to talk about what he found on his trip, the experience, and get some insights on America.

Friday, March 27, 4 p.m.

Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.


Williams was both a product of and a muse for Europe over the last half century, and their mutual exchange of themes, ideas and images altered the artistic landscapes of several post-war nations. This panel of Williams specialists discusses the early Williams and the uses he made of various European sources in his theatre; the late Williams and the promise European theater afforded him with his experimental plays; and the posthumous Williams and his influence on late 20th and early 21st century European theater and cinema.

Saturday, March 28, 10 a.m.

Panelists: John Bak, Michael Hooper, and Barton Palmer.

Moderator: Robert Bray.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.

Sponsored by Special Group Tours (SGT).


"Snatching the eternal out of the desperately fleeting is the great magic trick of human existence," Tennessee Williams wrote in his essay "The Timeless World of a Play." In the 32 years since his death, Williams' plays continue to be produced, his critical reputation grows, and his influence on today's playwrights is undeniable. From many productions of his works on Broadway, London's West End and beyond, to the hundreds of references to Streetcar in every form of popular culture including Woody Allen's film, Blue Jasmine and in TV shows such as "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family," Williams' genius not only endures but continues to captivate global audiences. Williams experts and friends discuss the playwright's hold on our con- temporary cultural reputation, and how the future may view the resonating worlds he created.

Saturday, March 28, 11:30 a.m.

Panelists: Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan, and John Lahr.

Moderator: Thomas Keith.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.


In 1975, Keir Dullea played Brick opposite Elizabeth Ashley's Maggie in the acclaimed first Broadway revival of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. Recently, he returned to Williams' play in an equally acclaimed production, this time playing Big Daddy opposite his wife, Mia Dillon, as Big Mama. In his interview with this celebrated theatrical couple, Foster Hirsch will also cover career highlights for both performers: Dullea's landmark film performances, on film, such as in Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey and onstage in the original Broadway production of Butterflies are Free; Dillon's Broadway appearances in Crimes of the Heart, (Tony nomination) and Our Town with Paul Newman. Recently, the couple co-starred in a much-praised independent film, Isn't It Delicious.

Saturday, March 28, 1 p.m.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.

Sponsored by Pelican Publishing Company.


"The Palooka" is one of Tennessee Williams' long-lost short plays, brought to life on the silver screen. The washed-up Palooka and rookie boxer swap stories of their boxing hero and share in the glory days that every man dreams of. Will either man get to live those dreams, or have those days already gone by? Watch the premiere and stay after to have a chat with the all-New Orleans team that brought the tale to life. Directed by Perry Martin. Featuring Bryan Batt, Zack Kron, and Dane Rhodes.

Saturday, March 28, 4 p.m.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.

A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN LAHR. Interviewed by Robert Bray.

How do you chronicle a life that defies summation? John Lahr, the longtime senior drama critic for The New Yorker, has emerged victorious in this task. Lahr's critically-lauded biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, is a triumphant weaving of Williams' journeys as an artist and as a man. The mammoth undertaking involved a decade of research and writing, and illuminates Williams' works and life,?giving readers the added gift of titillating insight into the lives of the theatre greats who were Williams' contemporaries. Join Lahr as he discusses his book, a 2014 National Book Award finalist, with Williams scholar Robert Bray.

Sunday, March 29, 10 a.m.

Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.


What is the life of a playwright when it comes time for their play to be staged? Four successful playwrights will discuss various aspects of a play- wright's life, from how a playwright finds the right theater; to the importance of having an agent; to the crucial relationship between director and playwright. John Biguenet's plays include Shotgun, Broomstick, Rising Water, among others. He is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence grant. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Dr. Femi Euba is a playwright, director and novelist. His plays include A Riddle of Palms and Crocodiles, Dionysus of the Holocaust, The Gulf, The Eye of Gabriel, and numer- ous radio plays written for the BBC. Playwright, screenwriter, and director John Patrick Shanley is known for his Oscar-winning screenplay Moonstruck, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt: A Parable. Martin Sherman's plays include Bent, Rose, Fat Tuesday, Passing By, to name a few. His stage version of Tennessee Williams' novel The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone premiered in Tokyo and his television adaptation of the novel starred Helen Mirren.

Sunday, March 29, 11:30 a.m.

Panelists: John Biguenet, Femi Euba, John Patrick Shanley, and Martin Sherman.

Moderator: Thomas Keith.

Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 214 Royal Street, Festival Panel Pass* or $10 at the door.

Stanley & 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 are welcome to try a little role reversal and yell for Stanley.

Sunday, March 29, 4:15 p.m.

Jackson Square, Free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded.

Sponsored by The New Orleans Advocate.

*A Festival Panel Pass is $75 ($60 for students); a One-Day Pass is $30. [See below for more info.]


Friday, March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Literary experts share their insights on the creative work of America's greatest playwright.

Conference Director: Dr. Robert Bray.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street.

$20 for Scholars Conference Pass or Free with a Panel Pass*.

Sponsored by The Historic New Orleans Collection with support from Middle Tennessee State University.

9:00-9:15 a.m. - Opening remarks, Dr. Robert Bray

9:15-10:30 a.m. - Tom's "good time girls": Burlesque and Chorus Girls in Williams' Early One-Act Plays

Dr. Annette Saddik, City university of New York

Mr. David Kaplan, Provincetown Theatre Festival

Dr. Michael Hooper, St. Margaret's School (UK)

Moderator: Dr. John Bak, Université de Lorraine (France)

10:30-11:45 a.m. - The Paintings of Tennessee Williams

Dr. Cori Convertito, Curator, Key West Art and Historical Society

Dr. John Bak, Université de Lorraine

Mr. Bradley Sumrall, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Moderator: Ms. Margit Longbrake, The Historic New Orleans Collection

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. - Lunchtime

1:00-2:15 p.m. - Suddenly, Last Summer, Play and Film Discussion

John Lahr, former New Yorker drama critic

Brenda Currin, actor

Dr. Barton Palmer, Clemson University

Moderator: Dr. Henry Schvey, Washington University

2:30-3:45 p.m. - Southern Literature and the White Trash Aesthetic

Dr. Andrew Leiter, Lycoming College

Dr. Meredith McCarroll, Clemson University

Mr. Jim Grimsley, Emory University

Moderator: Dr. Robert Bray

For more information, call 504-581-1144 or 800-990-3378 (FEST) or visit for ticket purchase, regular updates and information on how to become a "Friend of Tennessee."