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A Menagerie of Talent Slated for 27th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, March 20-24, 2013

Media Contact:

Ellen Johnson
504.283.3227 /


A Menagerie of Talent Slated for
27th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival,
March 20-24, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - A stellar group of literary, theater and musical talent will gather for the 2013 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, marking its 27th anniversary, March 20-24.  The five-day fête honors the legendary Tennessee Williams, his works, and literary life in the adopted city he called his "spiritual home" and features two days of master classes; a roster of lively discussions among distinguished panelists; celebrity interviews; theater, food and music events; a scholars' conference; short fiction, poetry and one-act play competitions; a breakfast book club; French Quarter literary walking tours; a book fair; and special evening events and parties.

To set the stage, sample a taste of last year's event here:

"One of the most rewarding aspects of the Festival is the high percentage of people who travel far and wide to attend - including several who boast more than 20 Festivals under their belt," said Executive Director Paul Willis.  "It's like a good habit they don't want to break."

Illustrious participants sharing their diverse talents at myriad events include:

            Michael Cunningham, the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and his latest work, By Nightfall. He will judge the Festival's 5th Annual Short Fiction Contest;

            Don Murray, who made his Broadway debut in 1951 opposite Eli Wallach and Maureen Stapleton in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, and is perhaps best known for his role in the 1956 film Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe;

            John Patrick Shanley, multiple award-winning playwright/screenwriter/director (Doubt, Moonstruck), who wowed Festival audiences in 2010 with his poignant and powerful tribute to Tennessee Williams;

            Leonard Pitts, best-selling author, columnist and 2004 Pulitzer Prize recipient for Commentary;

            Douglas Brinkley, prolific non-fiction author and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, whose most recent book, Cronkite, traces Walter Cronkite's story, drawing on unprecedented access to the esteemed broadcast journalist's private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends;

            John Shelton Reed, acclaimed Southern sociologist whose 19th book, Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s, takes readers to the heart of the place that inspired a host of literary legends and other creative souls;

            Maureen Corrigan, a book critic for the Peabody Award-winning NPR program "Fresh Air;" author of a memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading; and currently at work on a book about the enduring greatness of The Great Gatsby;

            Silas House, bestselling author and playwright, whose work, which deals mostly with the plight of the rural place and its people, has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, and Oxford American, and his commentary regularly featured on NPR's "All Things Considered;"

            John Jeremiah Sullivan, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. He writes for GQHarper's Magazine, and Oxford American and is the author of Blood Horses and the much-heralded new work, Pulphead;

            Dwight Garner, a senior writer and book critic for The New York Times, whose essays and journalism have also appeared in Slate, Harper's and Oxford American, among other places. He is at work on a biography of James Agee;          

            Zachary Lazar, novelist (Sway) and memoirist (Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder), whose writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, BOMB, among others; and

            Ayana Mathis, whose debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was recently selected by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club 2.0.


Literary highlights comprise more than two dozen literary panel discussions on a wide range of topics including Creole Women; Free People of Color; the South: Exile, Refuge and Return; New Orleans in the 1920s; courage in journalism; and reading in the digital age, to name a few.

                The popular Breakfast Book Club will focus on the short stories of celebrated author Eudora Welty. For the after-hours crowd, two Literary Late Night events are on tap:  the MelaNated Writers Collective‘s Literary Jook Joint, featuring an evening of prose, poetry and live music to move your spirit and your feet; and "New Orleans Nocturnes," a burlesque and variety show celebrating the sultry side of the city's literary tradition.

Eight lively Master Classes feature sessions with authors, agents and editors who share literary tips, techniques, and current industry trends with aspiring writers and interested bibliophiles. The 2013 line-up will offer a wealth of information on how to mine historical research for your book, improve your literary fiction manuscript and land your first agent.

Williams-related programs include:

- "A Tennessee Williams Songbook: Only a Paper Moon" - the Festival's opening night cork-popper featuring an electric performance by Tony-nominated bombshell Alison Fraser who will sing the hit songs Williams chose for his plays' scenes, with some Noel Coward and Duke Ellington in the mix;

- a production of The Gnädiges Fräulein, a surreal work said by Williams to be "kin to vaudeville, burlesque, and slapstick, with a dash of pop art thrown in," presented by the Four Humours Theater;

- Auto-Da-Fé, a first-ever staging at the historic Hermann-Grima House of Williams' two-character one-act, punctuated by a pageant of performers decked out in spectacular costumes from the award-winning Krewe of Armeinius;

- There's No Way We Can't Finally Win, the newest addition to New York playwright/actor Jeremy Lawrence's spot-on portraits of Tennessee, which never fail to mesmerize audiences;

- "Tennessee Williams in Others' Words," the third annual star-studded tribute to the Festival's namesake, this time focusing on what family, friends, critics and colleagues had to say about Tennessee;

- the 18th Annual Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference, celebrity readings of three TW one-acts and several Williams-related panels including "I Remember Tennessee."

- the Festival's riotous closing ceremony, the Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest, a playful homage to the bellowing mates in A Streetcar Named Desire. 

Other theater events include the world premiere of Mold by John Biguenet.  Presented by Southern Rep Theatre, this play completes the trilogy of plays about the post-Katrina flooding of New Orleans and its aftermath. In addition, the University of New Orleans will mount a production of Jessica Alexander's Jumpers, the Festival's 2012 One-Act Play Competition winner; the 2013 prizewinner will receive a staged reading.

More music enlivens the program with "Drummer & Smoke," a series of Sunday offerings, including songs from the musical adaptation of Dan Baum's bestseller Nine Lives, performed by creator Paul Sanchez and others; a tribute to the music of Harold Arlen and Burt Bacharach by composer/pianist Phil Melancon and some of New Orleans' most beloved chanteuses; and a discussion of author/drummer's book Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, followed by a musical tribute.

Food, Glorious Food offerings include noted food/wine connoisseur, author and columnist John Mariani's latest restaurant scoop served with wine, wit and hors d'oeuvres; "At Tennessee's Table," a panel discussion on the cuisine references in Williams' work, the foods he loved and the way we ate in the late 1940s and early ‘50s; and "Sipping on a New Orleans Afternoon," featuring tales, samples and recipes from Kit Wohl's new book, New Orleans Classic Cocktails, plus a signed copy to take home.


Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival - page 3

                Most of the events take place in New Orleans' historic French Quarter. Sites providing generous support and hosting events include Hotel Monteleone, the Festival's host hotel; The Historic New Orleans Collection; Williams Research Center; Southern Rep Theatre; Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant; Old U.S. Mint; Palm Court Jazz Café; Hermann-Grima House; The Pelican Club Restaurant; Arnaud's French 75 Bar; Napoleon's Itch; and Windsor Court Hotel.

                A Festival Panel Pass is $75 ($60 for students); a One-Day Pass is $30; theater/special events range from $10-$100; master classes are $25; the Scholars Conference is $20; walking tours are $25.  Group rates on request. Group rates are 20% off for groups of five or more.

                For more information, call 504-581-1144 or 800-990-3378 (FEST) or visit

                Major funding for the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival [TW/NOLF] is made possible through a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Festival is also supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency. In addition, the program is supported in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans. The TW/NOLF is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through an Access to Artistic Excellence literature grant.  The University of New Orleans administers the Festival's one-act play competition and provides a graduate assistant for the program. 

            Generous support has also been provided by Mystery Writers of America; Bollinger Family Foundation; Collins C. Diboll Foundation; Patrick F. Taylor Foundation; Zemurray Foundation; The Joe W. & Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation; Tulane University; French Market Coffee; Cenac Towing Co., LLC; Robert E. Zetzmann Family Foundation; Garden District Book Shop; Hendrick's Gin; Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival; Backspace Bar & Kitchen; and Brennan's Restaurant.

Images available on request. Electronic version of this press release available at