Southern Living to feature Williams sites, festival porch plays
CLARKSDALE – What's new at the Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival's 19th celebration Oct. 14-15 honoring America's great playwright who transformed many Clarksdale citizens and sites into theatre legends?
Maggie the Cat and Brick Pollitt from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof may be speaking with Canadian accents following the play's long run in Toronto during the Shaw Theatre Festival's 50th anniversary season.
And the festival's popular porch plays and key Williams sites are being photographed for two articles by Southern Living, a magazine many consider the bible of publications.
"We are excited over this tremendous publicity," exclaims Eva Connell, Williams Committee member who organizes the posh Friday night reception at The Clark House where gourmet cuisine is peppered with blues, gospel, and dramatic performances
According to festival organizers, the magazine will be showcasing Clarksdale as a key destination on Mississippi's literary trail, and the porch plays will highlight another article on Southern porches.
Traveling to Clarksdale weeks earlier, Southern Living writer Kim Cross visited extensively with the Rev. Jason Shelby, rector of St. George's Episcopal Church and Shelia Roberts about a renovation project that has excited many.
The second floor bedroom of the former rectory where Tom Williams lived as a child has been renovated with period furniture and a collection of memorabilia.
Tours during the festival will be available from 10 to noon Saturday morning, Oct. 15.
Tours also will be available Saturday morning at the Cutrer Mansion, a site Tom Williams visited frequently with his grandfather, the Rev. Walter Dakin, on parish calls to J. W. and Blanche Clark Cutrer.
Jen Waller, director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, will relate a history of the residence and talk about the center's current programs.
Filmmaker Herbert Krill's documentary, "The South is Everywhere" that debuted in Clarksdale and on European Public Television on March 26, 2011, the centennial of the playwright's birth, will be screened.
The annual student drama competition's finale Saturday night, Oct. 15, when winners are honored at an informal supper, present their winning monologues or skits, and exchange conversations with professional actors will be held this year for the first time at Ground Zero Blues Club of Clarksdale.
Other firsts are the Clarksdale debuts of acclaimed Broadway playwright/actor Jeremy Lawrence and theatre director Eda Holmes of Canada's Shaw Festival.
Holmes will relate her experiences directing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in Canada and present actress Severn Thompson who will perform scenes from Cat on Friday, Oct. 14, at Coahoma Community College's Whiteside Hall.
Lawrence will talk about Tennessee's indelible influence in global theatre and will also perform his original drama: Tom and Rose Friday at Coahoma Community College.
Theatre Oxford actors Alice Walker and Jared Davis will perform scenes from A Streetcar Named Desire at the former Governor Earl Brewer Mansion porch, now home of Mike and Tami Barr on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15
For more information about the schedule and reservation forms for meals, visit www.coahomacc.edu/twilliams or call 662-621-4157. The festival is free and open to the public. It is produced by Coahoma Community College and funded in part by CCC, Coahoma County Tourism, the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Rock River Foundation, and local businesses and donors.
Shelia Roberts (left) who organized the upstairs renovation of the St. George Episcopal Church's former rectory where Tennessee Williams lived as a child, shows Southern Living writer Kim Cross the collection of memorabilia and period furniture that will be open during the Tennessee Williams Festival Oct. 15
Jen Waller (right), director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, takes Southern Living writer Kim Cross on a tour of the Cutrer Mansion which will be open during the Tennessee Williams Festival Oct. 15.