An Iconic New Orleans Event, Virtually Yours
The festival bounces back with an online iteration
In an ordinary spring, the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival hosts a five-day affair for readers, writers, and theater lovers in the lush artist haven known as the French Quarter. The times being extraordinary though, the festival has moved its entire event online. Celebrating thirty-five years that have seen Pulitzer Prize winners alongside some of the most promising voices in contemporary literature, TWFest chose to dream big for this virtual incarnation, and the literary world answered the call to revelry—even if it had to be via Zoom.
The Festival will spread its 2021 programming across several weekends for ease of viewing. March 11–14 will be devoted to the Saints+Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival, now in its eighteenth year of panels, readings, workshops, and special events. TWFest will host a Writer’s Retreat Weekend March 19–21, with writer’s craft workshops, agent pitch sessions, panels on publishing, and an online writing marathon.
Traditional TWFest events begin on March 24 with a Vieux Carré Cabaret featuring LadyBEAST and drag icon Vinsantos, along with a cast of aerialists and actors. Other theater events will focus on the cultural richness of our city, including online events from Junebug Productions, The NOLA Project, ArteFuturo Productions, and the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans. Events continue through March 28, including Southern Storytellers, a series of literary conversations; an interview with Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley; and a literary conversation between actor Bryan Batt and Tennessee Williams scholar Kenneth Holditch.
TWFest has heard from patrons already missing their annual literary pilgrimage to the city they love this spring, but the festival has infused its virtual events with the mystic vibe of the French Quarter and designed a program filled with NOLA delights. Online attendees can expect tours of Williams’s former home on Dumaine Street, a tour of the Mississippi River from the Steamboat Natchez, and groove to some iconic NOLA bands in the Drummer and Smoke music series. They’ll get a rare glimpse of the kitchens in New Orleans’s most revered restaurants in Poppy Tooker’s Ultimate New Orleans Brunch, and the Tribute Reading will focus on Williams’s love for the city, with the theme of New Orleans as Muse.
An even bigger audience will view the festival in this extraordinary time, and when New Orleans welcomes attendees back into her arms, the reunion will be sweeter than jasmine. Full details at tennesseewilliams.net.