‘Bravo,’Record Crowds Celebrate Williams Fest
CLARKSDALE – Record crowds and a supernova “Bravo” encompassing live drama, lectures, student actors, music and porch plays sums up Clarksdale’s 2014 Tennessee Williams Festival, according to writer and theatre scholar Ann Fisher-Wirth.
Nearly 80 Clarksdale High School seniors and their teacher Wanda Lee wearing Tennessee Williams t-shirts were among several hundred attending the literary conference at Coahoma Community College Friday afternoon.
Earlier Friday morning, Lee Academy students of Gene Arthur Hopkins attended the festival’s screening of “Sweet Bird of Youth” in the Cutrer Mansion and an update of the documentary on the playwright in the Mississippi Delta by Karen Kohlhaas.
“Congratulations on an extremely successful festival,” continues Fisher-Wirth, a published poet and veteran professor of English at Ole Miss who also judged the student competition.
Her remarks are echoed by the event’s two other judges: New York actor/director Erma Duricko and Joe Bonelli of New Orleans, formerly of Mississippi Public Radio.
All remarked about the excellence of talent they judged and the close competition among 36 actors presenting monologues and four schools staging entire scenes from Tennessee Williams dramas.
Students from Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg left home at 3 a.m. Saturday to compete in the event. Others traveling long distances were Power APAC from Jackson; Northwest Rankin from Brandon; and Lafayette High in Oxford.
Winning first place in the scene competition and a $700 check for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof “ was Power APAC of Jackson followed closely by Oak Grove High School of Hattiesburg ($400) with “The Glass Menagerie.” Third place was Northwest Rankin High of Brandon ($200) with “Sweet Bird of Youth,” and Lafayette High of Oxford’s “Suddenly Last Summer” receiving honorable mention.
In the monologue division Tony Reimonenq of Oak Grove won first place, $500; Moses Williams, also of Oak Grove was second, $200; Jada Bell of Power APAC, third, $100; and Lauren Tannehill of Oak Grove, honorable mention.
Other winners were Moses Williams, Oak Grove, male Stella calling winner, $100; and Jada Bell, Power APAC, female Stella winner, $100; Bell also won Best Costume, $100; Kayla Murray of Oak Grove, Judges Award; and Karen Striet of Northwest Rankin, winner of the first Colby Kullman Teachers Award of Excellence.
Cash prizes from Coahoma Coahoma Community College are awarded to school drama departments, and student winners are presented engraved trophies.
Coahoma Community College