20th Annual Williams Festival set Oct. 12-13

CLARKSDALE – The 20th annual Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival sponsored by Coahoma Community College is scheduled for Oct. 12-13, 2012 and will return its focus on the The Glass Menagerie, the playwright’s autobiographical memory play celebrated at Clarksdale’s first Williams Festival in 1993.

Participating in readings at the opening festival was celebrity actress Ruby Dee portraying Amanda Wingfield, the signature character based on the playwright’s own mother, Edwina Dakin Williams.

Although President Bill Clinton was unable to be in Clarksdale despite numerous correspondences and telephone calls from the White House, he sent special greetings that were read at the Moon Lake opening reception at Uncle Henry’s Place. Special music was presented by Big Jack Johnson and his band.

In 1993 the Clarksdale Community Theatre presented the Glass Menagerie in the Larry Thompson Center, and the “I Remember Tom” panel at Carnegie Public Library was composed of former local friends and associates sharing memories of the playwright who spent his childhood in Clarksdale.

Included in the panel were Charles Clark, Alida Clark Heidelberg, Joe Ellis, Miriam Gotcher Anderson, all of Clarksdale, and Fonnie Black Ladd of Charleston. All are now deceased.

The first festival followed nearly two years of planning funded by a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission coordinated with Dr. Vivian Presley, CCC president.

Original consultants were Dr. Ann Abadie, associate director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, a key organizer of the Faulkner Conference at Ole Miss, Dr. Kenneth Holditch, research professor at the University of New Orleans and one of the country’s top William scholars.

Consultants at CCC included Vanessa Long, Yvonne Stanford, and members of the CCC Lyceum Committee.

Two years later the festival was selected to host the unveiling of the U.S. Tennessee Williams postage stamp and launched the national book tour for writer Lyle Leverich’s biography, Tom, the Unknown Tennessee.

Details about the 2012 festival which is free and open to the public will be published on the festival website: www.coahomacc.edu/twilliams

Although the annual festival explores all the works of Tennessee Williams through its literary conference, screenings, and live drama, it generally emphasizes one particular play each year.

Past festivals have featured, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll and 27 Wagons of Cotton, Spring Storm, and The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.