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Arts & Culture

A Place Made for the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival

At the 2014 Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, expect theater, speeches, panels, walking tours and more to celebrate the playwright.

The arts and New Orleans are undeniably connected at the hip. First Opera in North America? New Orleans. Birthplace of American music? New Orleans. Spiritual home and muse for a many a writer? You guessed it, New Orleans. One such writer who was deeply moved by the energy of the city was Tennessee Williams, who after having only been in town for three hours proclaimed New Orleans as the “place I was made for.” Thankfully for us, New Orleans helped give birth to some of Tennessee’s greatest works including the famed “Streetcar Named Desire.” To celebrate Tennessee Williams’ work and to help inspire others to create, a group of friends got together and created the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (March 19-23), which is now in its 28th year.

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A Tennessee Williams performance at last year’s festival (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

The literary festival, also known as TW Fest serves up a diverse set of activities unlike any other festival I know. Walking tours, master classes for aspiring writers, countless panels, live theater and special meal-centric, literary celebrations.

The festival’s literary walking tour is designed to let you become one with Tennessee Williams’ life in the French Quarter. Participants will see at least eight of his residences in the Quarter and look inside the places that served as his inspiration.

The TW Fest master classes are sure to help your latest writing project, whether it be a blog post or the next great American novel. Learn crucial skills from accomplished authors like giving for project Voice for Mysterious Purpose, cleaning up your story with the Art of Revision, trimming your multi-volume masterpiece into The Super Sleek Novel and protecting your creative property with Copyright for Writers.

The wide ranging panels at TW Fest cover just about every literary topic imaginable. From the hard hitting Not Even Past: Southern History in Contemporary Fiction, which examines South’s complex history and its influence on contemporary works, to the light-hearted with Literary Laughs: Entertaining Ourselves, which seeks to discuss how to inject humor into a story. With more that 20 different panels, your sure to find at least a few that fit your literary interests. Browse the full list of speakers at the Tennessee Williams Festival.

new orleans festival
The Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest in Jackson Square (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

Perhaps you like a bit more action in your festival? Not a problem as TW Fest has you covered with entertaining¬†theater productions, including Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” featuring The NOLA Project and Hotel Plays, which feature Williams’ plays set in hotel rooms or boarding houses.

TW Fests’ numerous special events bring together literary genius and one of New Orleans’ other great talent, food. Grab breakfast and discuss “The Glass Menagerie” at the Breakfast Book Club at Muriel’s, or catch up on the latest in contemporary New Orleans cuisine with “Eat Dat! What’s Good, What’s Great!” while grabbing lunch at Dickie Brennan’s newest addition to the New Orleans food scene, Tableau. Of Course, you can’t forget the famous Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest, which is free and open to the public!

With so much to do, I’m not sure that the TW Fest’s five days are going to be enough to get it all in! Get a preview of the type of shouting competition you’ll find at the festival in the GoNOLA TV episode below!