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Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival

Friday, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:30am

Various Venues in Clarksdale
Clarksdale, MS 38614

The Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival celebrates and explores the life and works of Tennessee Williams, his Mississippi Delta roots, and the history of Clarksdale and Coahoma County.

Schedule:
9:30am: Keynote speech
Keynote speech, on Williams in the Delta and his close relationship with his sister Rose, by internationally recognized Tennessee Williams scholar Dr. Kenneth Holditch

Location: Cutrer Mansion

10:45am: Historic performance
Performance of Minnie Brewer, daughter of Mississippi Governor Earl Brewer, played by New York actor Regina Gibson and directed by Karen Kohlhaas. Minnie Brewer was an a women's voting advocate and publisher of the Clarksdale newspaper, The Woman Voter from 1922-1924. Minnie may have inpsired a character in Williams' Orpheus Descending. Commentary and discussion led by Dr. Matt Foss of the University of Toledo, and Marion Barnwell of Delta State University.

Location: Governor Brewer House

11:15am: Historic Slideshow
Williams documentarian Karen Kohlhaas will present a short slideshow of women in Clarksdale’s history who were members of the Woman’s Club (founded 1907), and communicants of St. George’s Episcopal Church. Some of the women seem to have inspired characters in Williams’ plays, including a Williams family friend named Laura, and a music and voice teacher who may have inspired the character of Alma in Williams’ play Summer and Smoke.

Location: Clarksdale Woman's Club

11:30am: Readings and Interview
Tennessee Williams performer Jeremy Lawrence returns to Clarksdale to present his one man show, “My Sister Was Quicker at Everything Than I", based on Tennessee Williams' sister Rose at the Porch Plays. This morning, he will give readings from his new book on Rose and be interviewed by Prof. Tom Mitchell of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He will also perform a short excerpt from his play.

Location: Clarksdale Woman's Club

12:30pm: Lunch On Your Own - Try one of Clarksdale's fine restaurants

2:00pm: Performance of unpublished Williams work
A rare look at an unpublished Williams manuscript, performed by visiting actors including Clarksdale native Anna Carson Tyner and Oxford actor Susan McPhail, and University of Southern Mississippi actor Moses Williams. Permission has been given by Williams’ estate, The University of the South at Sewanee, for us to present a special performance of The Front Porch Girl, a fragment of a longer play which appears to be an early version of The Glass Menagerie. The main character appears to be based on Williams' sister Rose. Chapman, Lewis and Swan Law Office is the former home of the Peacock family. Williams played with Eddie Peacock as a young boy living in Clarksdale and visited this home many times. The scene will be directed by Karen Kohlhaas. Discussion and commentary will be led by Williams scholar Professor Tom Mitchell of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Location: Porch of Chapman, Lewis And Swan Offices

3:00pm: Site-Specific Performance
Williams seems to have featured his sister Rose in his early play, Spring Storm, set at Clarksdale’s Carnegie Public Library. We'll present scenes from the play, performed by visiting actors Regina Gibson, Anna Carson Tyner, Moses Williams, and Susan McPhail, directed by Karen Kohlhaas and followed by commentary and discussion led by Dr. Virginia Craighill of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.

Location: Carnegie Public Library

4:00pm: Site-Specific Historic Performance
Clarksdale’s historic train depot features the formerly segregated waiting rooms from which the young Tennessee Williams took the train to St. Louis; Muddy Waters left for Chicago; and local African American civil rights activist Vera Mae Pigee insisted on buying her train ticket from the white ticket window. Storyworks theater company will present a scene, written by Aallyah Wright and Jenna Welch, between Vera Mae Pigee and her daughter Mary Jane Pigee, performed by Clarksdale actors Tarra Rhymes Slack and Aallyah Wright and directed by Jenna Welch, with commentary and discussion led by Dr. Françoise Hamlin, author of The Crossroads at Clarksdale.

Location: Coahoma County Tourism Commission

5:00pm: Museum Wine and Cheese Reception and New Displays
The museum will feature reproductions of letters written home to St. Louis by the young Tennessee Williams and his sister Rose during the years they each lived in Clarksdale with their grandparents in this rectory, and, an unpublished short story about Williams' childhood experiences with bullying during his years in Clarksdale.

Location: Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum

This event listing provided for the Clarksdale community events calendar. Community events are not associated with or sponsored by AARP, but may be of interest to you. If you have an event to share, let us know!

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster

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