John Waters is a good fit to participate in this year’s Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, a five-day cultural event taking place in and around the French Quarter in late March. Waters is an outrageous literary voice, much like Williams himself, who first visited New Orleans – the city he called his “spiritual home” – when he was 28.
Just like Waters is known for pushing the envelope, Williams was considered a bold voice, a writer who took risks. That sense of literary adventure infuses the this annual festival with verve; nothing fusty about this popular ode to the spoken and written word.
The five-day fête – scheduled this year for Wednesday, March 25, to Sunday, March 29, 2015 – delivers a dizzying number of fun events, from lively salons to celebrity interviews, theater and poetry, a one-act play competition, French Quarter literary walking tours and – since this is New Orleans – plenty of parties.
Channel your inner Stanley during the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival — Photo courtesy of Ride Williams / Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival
What’s so special about this year’s Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival? These must-sees, for starters:
Tennessee and Toussaint: Soul of New Orleans - Who knew Williams was a visual artist? Well, he was, and this kick-off event at the Ogden includes his paintings, a performance by musical wordsmith Allen Toussaint and nibbles by Chef John Besh.
The New Orleans Writing Marathon - Think The Amazing Race meets Survivor, in a literary context natch. Writers storm the French Quarter and soak up the city life and vibe, writing in any form to share with their fellow scribblers, who cannot vote them out of the Quarter.
“Hotel Plays” by Tennessee Williams - It doesn’t get more intimate than this way cool staging of short Williams plays set in hotel rooms, where all kinds of fleshy excess unfolds. It's the most fun you’ll ever have in the historic Hermann-Grima House. Thee shows are co-produced with plenty of attitude by Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.
Literary Walking Tours - The Mississippi-born writer soaked up New Orleans culture in ways that would invigorate his writing and inform one of his best known works, A Streetcar Named Desire. These tours literally follow his path, as well as those of other literary giants inspired in "The Big Easy."
Lunch at Antoine’s - Antoine’s was one of Williams’ favorite haunts. Pull up a chair at this Creole classic, and listen to stories about Williams, as you slurp down Sazeracs and eat oysters.
Good Morning, Baltimore: Laura Lippman interviews John Waters - Two Baltimore longtime friends and icons chew the fat. Waters should be in fine form; he's in town to perform his one-man show at the Joy, This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier.
Blue Devils and Better Angels: Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading - Stars align at the Old Ursuline Convent to share scenes, monologues, poetry and letters that relate to the struggles and triumphs of the spirit. Participants include John Waters, playwright Martin Sherman and John Patrick Shanley, who will read excerpts from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Doubt.
Late-night Improv: “By Any Scenes Necessary: A Streetcar Named Desire” - Get in on the action during this evening of improv, your big chance to rewrite the classic play, played for laughs.
And Then We Laughed – Humorists Roy Blount, Jr.; Rick Bragg; and Amy Dickinson spar for laughs, an interactive good time for sure.
Truman Talks Tennessee – Broadway veteran Joel Vig plays Truman near the end of his life, as he recalls his friendship with Tennessee.
Stanley & Stella Shouting Contest - The festival’s closing event, the Stanley & Stella Shouting Contest, is a playful homage to the hollering made famous in Williams’ classic play, A Streetcar Named Desire. What a scream!