Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tennessee Williams Fest 2015

Literally Tennessee
Debbie Lindsey and Phil LaMancusa

“What I love about New Orleans is that it tolerates
every kind of eccentricity. Tennessee Williams
didn’t end up there by accident.”
—James Lee Burke
The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (March 25-29) will be held around town and every year we give you and update and perspective. Lots of authors, informed speakers, thespians and celebratory occurrences. You know the drill: go to tennesseewilliams.net, find out what’s going on and don’t miss it!
In essence what we have here is a celebration of the written word, the spoken word and the word as performed; words that are thought out before their utterances. It’s a world where we are not allowed to control outcomes; it’s a ride that we allow ourselves to be taken on--where we are at the mercy of the wordsmiths.  An intellectual Twilight Zone. It’s ‘The Krewe To View A Thing Or Two’ and good old Tennessee is the Grand Marshall. A festival of this type, proportion and importance is a celebration that is as necessary as breath itself.
In this age of technology and technocrats we have a tendency to confuse information with intelligence and-truth be told- there is a vast difference; there is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Words, music, art and the theater are personal experiences; to have them is inclusive. To dwell in the world of personal communicative device existence is its opposite; a person becomes exclusive. E.g. have you ever looked at a person (or even yourself) mesmerized by their appliance and wondered where exactly they were? Wherever it is, it is exclusive and you are excluded from it. The same works for books, I’m sure you’re ready to point out; except---except--- when you’re in someone’s company that’s reading a book, listening to  a speaker or watching a play they’re not lost to you as when your BFF is texting “wut r U up 2?” to someone equally as lost----maybe in Kalamazoo----while  you’re eating.
“At this point I will ask you to please shut down all electronic devices” will be the first thing you will hear at all functions. Which means everybody pay attention(!). And then you will step back in time and space; a time when people showed you celluloid photographs of their kids, where motion pictures were not in color hues; where imagination was just that--- an image nation. Books have pages to turn and your attention to hold, relating to you as an audience--- with a responsibility to connect with you--- the same as a speaker, performance or any other work of art.
New Orleans was, and hopefully still is, a fertile spiritual magnet and home for creativity. You, obviously are creative and you also read (you’re reading this); basically, I’m preaching to the choir. So, let me commend to you a book that, as a New Orleanian, should be on your shelf. The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans by Susan Larson. The book, I find, is a love song to this city and the literature, writers and publications that sprang forth from our soil here, going back a century and more.
The reason that this piece goes into Where Y’at in the April issue is so that you don’t have time to forget the event (counting on you being one of the knowledgeable who snap up Where Y’at the minute it hits the stands). If you’re not in that number and have missed the weekend of wonder, get Susan Larson’s book. I guarantee that you’ll be salivating for this experience next year. Go forth and fill yourself with this adventure!  An ‘Eponymous Playwright Festival’ is what they call it; what does that mean?

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