Award-Winning Writers, Drag Queens Who Brunch, 
and Fresh Visions from New Orleans Theater, 
All Slated for the 2020 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival
NEW ORLEANS‚ÄĒThe Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival returns to its home in the historic French Quarter for its 34th annual celebration of contemporary literature, culture, theater, and the works of Tennessee Williams. More than a typical book festival, TWNOLF showcases award-winning writers, actors, musicians, and other artists in over 150 events in the French Quarter and other New Orleans venues.
The 2020 Festival, March 25-29, includes writing workshops, literary panels, theater events, a book fair, Tennessee Williams tribute reading and scholars conference, walking tours, music events, culinary events, interviews, and the Saints + Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival. TWNOLF will present a range of diverse speakers and performers, including Sarah M. Broom, Andrei Codrescu, Maureen Corrigan, Beth Ann Fennelly, Jewelle Gomez, Jac Jemc, Sister Helen Prejean, Leigh Camacho Rourks, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Colm Tóibín, John Warner Smith, Katy Simpson Smith, Edmund White, and many more.
‚ÄúTennessee Williams once called New Orleans his ‚Äėspiritual home‚Äô and each year we strive to bring that feeling to our Festival,‚ÄĚ says Executive Director Paul J. Willis. ‚ÄúWe have a family of artists, writers, readers, and New Orleans cultural enthusiasts who return to their literary home every year. Newcomers are welcomed in and often become lifelong attendees.‚ÄĚ
Theater Highlights include two full-length productions by local theaters. The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will take audiences into the future with their creative adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel. Southern Rep Theatre will present Reykjavik by Steve Yockey, directed by Aimée Hayes. This series of interconnected vignettes features tourists mixing with (sometimes supernatural) Icelandic locals. Other theater events include performances by The NOLA Project, actress Brenda Currin, two Tennessee Williams short plays from the new Beaubourg Theatre Company, plus a new solo play from Jacob Stormscalled Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams.
Special Events¬†include the annual book club, ‚ÄúBooks and Beignets,‚ÄĚ featuring the late Nobel laureate Toni Morrison‚Äôs classic novel,¬†Beloved.¬†Poppy Tooker¬†will host a culinary event celebrating her book,¬†Drag Queen Brunch. The annual Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading returns with the theme of ‚ÄúThe Long and the Short of It,‚ÄĚ featuring readings from early short works that later evolved into full length Tennessee Williams plays. A Festival tradition for music enthusiasts,¬†Drummer and Smoke¬†returns with New Orleans musicians Raynel Shepard, Clive Wilson, and Tom Sancton.
TWNOLF will also host five walking tours celebrating the literary and historical delights of the French Quarter, including a Tennessee Williams literary tour, an LGTBQ tour, a Storyville history tour, a cemetery tour, and a Nola drag tour.
The Festival celebrates the literary arts in many forms, with events for readers, writers, theater and music lovers, foodies, history buffs, and more. TWNOLF has a long history of connecting readers to the artists they love. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and past Festival speaker Richard Ford says that ‚Äúthe great allure of the Tennessee Williams Festival is–for me, a writer–to meet serious, man-and-woman-on-the-street book readers, people who go to books for the reason I came to reading long ago: to hear the extra beat to life that literature supplies, and by which it dignifies our trust that life’s still worth living. Plus, you get to do it in New Orleans. Who could resist?‚ÄĚ
Venues:¬†Most Festival events take place in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. Sites providing generous support and hosting events include Hotel Monteleone, the Festival‚Äôs host hotel; The Historic New Orleans Collection, Williams Research Center, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, Beauregard-Keyes House, Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant, Beaubourg Theater, Dickie Brennan‚Äôs Bourbon House, and Palm Court Jazz Cafe, among others.
Tickets go on sale in January. Ticketing information and a full schedule of events and speakers will be available at www.tennesseewilliams.net. VIP Passes are $600; Literary Discussion Passes are $100 ($70 for students); a One-Day Literary Discussion Pass is $40; theater/special events range from $10-$50; Writer’s Craft sessions are $25 each; Best Value: Combo Pass $200 (includes all 8 writer’s craft sessions and a Literary Discussion Pass); walking tours are $25-$50. Group rates, available on request, are 20% off for groups of 20 or more.
Saints + Sinners Literary Festival, an annual concurrent LGBTQ conference celebrating its 17th year, will feature speakers including Jewelle Gomez, Trebor Healey, Alex Myers, Colm Tóibín, Edmund White, and many others. Visit sasfest.org for more details.
The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival celebrates the genius of Tennessee Williams and the contemporary artists who are as honest and unflinching in their examination of the human condition as our patron playwright. Founded in 1986 by a group of cultural enthusiasts, the Festival has grown from a small gathering of 500 to a five-day literary and multi-cultural event, which sees 13,000+ seats filled each year. In late March, we toast Williams’ birthday with theater, literary panels, food, and music events featuring luminaries and the brightest new talents in American arts. For more information, visit www.tennesseewilliams.net or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @TWFestNOLA
The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Major backing comes from the New Orleans Theatre Association, which supports performing arts throughout the Greater New Orleans area, along with support from The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marian Hawk press@tennesseewilliams.net 706-840-0257