Sternhagen, Caldwell, Seldes, Among Guests at 2009 Tennessee Williams Fest

News   Sternhagen, Caldwell, Seldes, Among Guests at 2009 Tennessee Williams Fest The 2009 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, a weekend of readings and discussions focused on playwright and fiction writer Williams, will welcome Broadway stars Zoe Caldwell, Marian Seldes and Frances Sternhagen March 25-29.

Other guests will include Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Ford (who is also the judge of the Festival's first short fiction contest) and Rick Bragg; Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare; acclaimed poet and memoirist Mark Doty; best-selling authors Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon mystery series), John Berendt ("Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"), John Biguenet (also a Pulitzer-nominated playwright for his Hurricane Katrina-themed play, Rising Water), Jill Conner Browne (The Sweet Potato Queens series), Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan mystery series), Tom Piazza ("Why New Orleans Matters"); and New York Times Magazine deputy editor Katherine Bouton, among others.

The five-day event, which celebrates the life and legacy of Tennessee Williams in the adopted city he called his "spiritual home," offers two days of master classes; a roster of lively discussions among panelists; celebrity interviews; theatre, food and music events; a scholars' conference; short fiction and one-act play competitions; a breakfast book club; literary and other French Quarter walking tours; a book fair; and an opening night fundraising gala.

Among the theatre highlights:

  • "I Remember Tennessee" – a special evening of musings by Caldwell, Seldes and Sternhagen, who collectively have garnered 16 Tony nominations and seven awards.

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  • Bent to the Flame - A Night with Tennessee Williams - A performance by the Los Angeles production of the solo play, featuring Doug Tompos in a provocative turn.
  • New Orleans' Cripple Creek Theatre Company's production of the Williams play, Kingdom of Earth.
  • A performance of Ignatius on Stage, adapted from John Kennedy O'Toole's novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces," which is a festival staple. The public is invited to get into the act with the Festival's second annual Tennessee's Got Talent competition, with celebrity judges voting on contestants' interpretations of dramatic scenes from Williams' work.

    The Festival's closing ceremony includes the annual "Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest," in playful homage to the bellowing mates in Williams' masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire.

    Literary programs include:

  • A profile of Southern Gothic writer Flannery O'Connor.
  • "Tennessee at the Movies," focusing on the films adapted from Williams' works.
  • "Tennessee and His Kind," examining the lives of several gay writers of the mid-20th century. Additional panel topics include Hurricane Katrina-related books, exposing skeletons and spilling secrets, historic fiction, writing about war, archiving culture, blogging and more.

    Most of the events take place in New Orleans' historic French Quarter. Sites hosting events include Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, The Historic New Orleans Collection, the Cabildo, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, Muriel's Jackson Square, the Palm Court Jazz Café, the Windsor Court Hotel and others to be determined.

    A Festival Panel Pass is $60 ($50 for students); a One-Day Pass is $25; theatre/special events range from $10-$50; master classes are $25; walking tours are $25. Group rates on request.

    For more information visit www.tennesseewilliams.net.

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    The Festival is governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of teachers, writers, book-sellers, city government personnel, corporate representatives, and television consultants. It is a 501(c)3 organization, chartered in the state of Louisiana. Funding comes from auxiliary events, fund-raising parties, corporate and individual donations, and public and private foundation donations.