Cerith Mathias reviews one of the most beloved traditions of the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival A.K.A the New Orleans Literary Festival: the Stella shouting contest.
The closing event of the Tennessee Williams/ New Orleans Literary Festival is quite literally something to shout about. Crowds gather in Jackson Square, beneath the intricate iron lace balcony of the Pont Alba Buildings to re-create perhaps the most famous scene penned by Williams, immortalised on the silver screen by Marlon Brando: Stanley Kowalski’s desperate yell for his wife Stella.
A Streetcar Named Desire, the 1947 play that put both Williams and New Orleans on the literary map earned the playwright the Pulitzer Prize; Brando’s portrayal of the working class anti-hero in the 1951 film adaptation earned him an Oscar nomination. Festival goers seek similar glory in the annual Stella shouting contest with screams for the attention of Stella or Stanley (women are also allowed to enter), hoping to dazzle the judges, among them festival president Janet Daley Duval and actor Bryan Batt.
This year’s stellar “Stella!” was performed by Dewey Cadell , from New York. Cerith Mathias captured his reaction.
Banner illustration by Dean Lewis
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Here Kenneth Holditch speaks to Cerith Mathias at the 27th festival – a four day feast of all things Williams held annually in the playwright’s beloved Bohemia.
Cerith Mathias is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review.