Stellaaaa! Haven’t you heard? The 31st annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will be held March 22-26 this year. The festival has everything you could want in a Williams week, from play readings, performances, and walking tours to book fairs, lectures, and master classes. It even has a shouting contest.
It’s true: Not many festivals can lay claim to a shouting contest, but this festival would be incomplete without it. The event has contestants re-create an infamous scene from the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. You know the one—picture Marlon Brando shouting “STELLAAA!” at the bottom of a French Quarter staircase. Step right up with your best Stella shout, and celebrity judges will pick a winner.
There are plenty of other events, too, if shouting isn’t your style. You certainly don’t want to miss “Telling the Story Only You Can Tell—A Master Class with the Master of the Memoir,” a session with the one and only Rick Bragg. Other events include The New Orleans Writing Marathon and a Tennessee Williams Literary Walking Tour. The “Tennessee Williams and the Eternal City” event will feature Julia Reed, Rick Bragg, and Michael Cerveris reading from Williams’ memoirs.
Williams is one of New Orleans' most beloved former residents, and the festival will explore both his work and the city that captivated him—it’s certainly no coincidence that A Streetcar Named Desire is set in the French Quarter. New Orleans inspired Williams, and Williams continues to inspire us. The festival's goals are essential: “The festival’s mission is threefold: to serve the community through educational, theatrical, literary, and musical programs; to nurture, support, and showcase regional, national and international writers, actors, musicians, and other artists; to honor the creative genius of Tennessee Williams, who considered this city his spiritual home.” The arts are one of our most valuable resources, and this celebration not only honors Williams, but it also supports new writers and artists through performances and readings as well as fiction and poetry contests.
No matter your literary interests, this festival has something for everyone. It is one of the top literary festivals in the nation, and if you are anywhere near NOLA this week, you should stop by and join in the celebration. Browse the schedule of events for a list of panels, performances, and sessions. Some are free and some are ticketed, so make plans soon. As Tennessee Williams would say, “En avant!”
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