Tennessee Williams Festival ‘Lit By Lightning’
Consultant calls it ‘absolutely wonderful’
CLARKSDALE – Borrowing lines from The Glass Menagerie, Clarksdale experienced a weekend “lit by lightning” during the Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival’s 20th anniversary.
Opening with Coahoma Community College’s recognition of Barbara Carpenter, executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council and MHC’s 40 years by Dr. Vivian Presley, CCC president, Judy Flowers, and CCC officials, the weekend skyrocketed into success, agree visitors and locals.
“Absolutely wonderful,” comments Dr. Henry Outlaw, retired Delta State University professor who served as a grant consultant and evaluator.
“A Plus in every category; I was especially impressed with the students, (student acting competition), he continued.
Performing monologues and scenes from Tennessee Williams plays, high school students competed for $2,500 in cash prizes from CCC awarded to their school drama departments. Students won trophies, and judges were out-of-town theatre professionals.
With a focus on The Glass Menagerie, Kenneth Holditch presented the opening keynote address followed by live scenes performed by New York actors/directors Erma Duricko, Timothy Brown, and Jeff Glickman of Florida. Following lunch, a scholar panel offered additional insight into Menagerie.
Ratcheting up the tempo, actor/playwright Florence “Flo” Roach from The Help, ignited the audience with readings from her original poetry and a lively presentation praising Mississippi and its influence on her successful career as an artist.
Moving downtown, festival participants enjoyed an organ recital by John Palmer at St. George’s Episcopal Church and a tour of the former rectory before welcoming Caroline Kennedy at the Cutrer Mansion and continuing to a posh reception next door at Clark House.
The speedometer zoomed through Saturday’s drama competition at CCC’s Georgia Lewis Theatre, the Cutrer marker unveiling, film screening by Karen Kohlhaas, porch plays in the historic district, and finale at Ground Zero.
Students from Northwest Rankin High School (Brandon) performed a scene from “A Streetcar Named Desire” that earned first place and $750 for their school drama department, professional actors took turns commenting on the excellence of student talent.
Portraying The Glass Menagerie’s key figure – Amanda Wingfield , Clarksdale actress Sherrye Williams is a porch play finale favorite in the historic district before the Fran and Tom Ross home where the Tennessee Williams postage stamp was unveiled in 1995.
Saluting her Mississippi roots and a childhood growing up on a Delta plantation as positive forces influencing her success as an artist, The Help actress Florence ‘Flo’ Roach is a hit with a vibrant presentation at Coahoma Community College.
Following her presentation, Flo Roach is surrounded by fans including Goldie Hirsberg of Clarksdale; Elizabeth Richardson of Oxford; and Marilyn Starks, CCC vice president, of Shelby.