Friday, March 8, 2013

UNO Joins the Fun at This Month's Tennessee Williams Literary Festival

"Don't you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn't just an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it?"
― Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Stella! More than 10,000 people from around the world gather each year in New Orleans spurred on by the famous words of Tennessee Williams, a prolific author and playwright who staged a number of his theatrical works in the 300-year-old city, including A Streetcar Named Desire.

The annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival was founded in 1986 by local residents who shared a common desire to celebrate the region's rich cultural heritage, according to the organization's website. Over the last 27 years, the famed festival has grown from an informal two-day event featuring 500 audience members to a five-day extravaganza filled with entertainment and literary programming.

This year's festival runs Wednesday through Sunday, March 20-24. Events take place in various venues in the city's downtown and French Quarter. The University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and Film and Theatre Department are festival sponsors and a variety of members of the UNO community are participating.

This year's program includes four Pulitzer Prize winners: John Patrick Shanley, Leonard Pitts, Marsha Norman and Michael Cunningham. Also on the festival roster are author and historian Douglas Brinkley, who once taught at UNO; Ayana Mathis, whose debut novel Twelve Tribes of Hattie was recently chosen as Oprah's Book Club pick and geographer Richard Campanella.

UNO Professor Emeritus Carol Gelderman, who has authored eight books, will participate at 4 p.m. on Friday in a panel discussion in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone Hotel entitled "Free People of Color." Her most recent book is A Free Man of Color and His Hotel: Race, Reconstruction, and the Role of the Federal Government. Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper columnist Leonard Pitts will also serve on the panel.

UNO Assistant Professor Elizabeth Steeby, who teaches courses in U.S. Modernism, Southern literature, New Orleans regional literature, and gender and sexuality studies, will moderate a 4:15 p.m. panel on Saturday in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone Hotel, entitled "The South: Literature of Exile, Refuge, and Return," and featuring Twelve Tribes of Hattie author Ayana Mathis.

Poet and UNO Distinguished Professor of English Niyi Osundare will read some of his poems and participate in a panel discussion entitled "Make This Place Your Own: Poetry Readings" at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St. UNO MFA instructor Carolyn Hembree will moderate the panel discussion.

The University's Creative Writing Workshop and Department of Film and Theater also played a role in this year's festival, providing "careful and experienced judging" for the festival's annual one-act play contest designed to nurture emerging talent.

At noon on Sunday, the film and theatre department presents the premiere production of Jumpers: A One-Act Play by Jessica Alexander, last year's winner of the Festival's 2012 One-Act Play Contest. The performance takes place in the Nouvelle Ballroom of the Monteleone Hotel. The same week, Theatre UNO performs Jumpers: A One-Act Play on campus.

Read more about Theatre UNO's performance of Jumpers: A One-Act Play >>
Read more about the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and see the schedule of events >>
See results of the festival's 27th annual One Act Play Contest >>