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An inside look on the 8th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

This year’s Festival will give center stage to 'Suddenly Last Summer' at the Catherine B. Berges Theatre at Center of Creative Arts (COCA) on September 7-17.

ST. LOUIS — The 8th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival is a theatre festival that celebrates the artistry and influence of St. Louis native Tennessee Williams, widely considered to be America’s greatest playwright. The Festival is a destination event and attracts thousands to the area each summer for its readings, panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions, and productions. 

This year’s fall Festival will give center stage to Suddenly Last Summer, a drama by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Williams, directed by award-winning director, Tim Ocel at the Catherine B. Berges Theatre at Center of Creative Arts (COCA) on September 7-17. This fresh retelling of Suddenly Last Summer, first performed in 1957, focuses on the life and death of closeted gay poet Sebastian Venable, who is brutally murdered while on a trip to Italy with his cousin Catharine. After the recent tragedy, Mrs. Venable will stop at nothing to keep her son’s (and her own) secrets safe. Generally accepted as a modern-day horror story, this play has autobiographical roots from Williams’ own family life. There will be post-show commentary by Thomas Mitchell, TWStL’s Festival Scholar. 

“University City Years” will be a focus for the fall Festival. In addition to the Williams family living in U. City from 1926-1937, many of the festivals events are taking place in University City.

Other events include:

  • Book Signing & Discussion of Tom Mitchell’s new publication of Williams’ short stories: Caterpillar Dogs: and Other Early Stories
  • A Walking Tour of University City
  • Late Night Beatnik Jam at Blueberry Hill
  • Tennessee Williams Tribute featuring cast members & favorite STL actors
  • Film screening of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in collaboration with Cinema St. Louis

The Festival has 2 sets of educational programs. One, funded by the Missouri Humanities Council, provides panels and other educational activities and a separate scholar’s workshop targeted for serious Williams students from around the world. The other is our Play Reading Initiative, which reaches out to high school students (especially in under-served areas) with opportunities for students who may never have attended or read a play to read, discuss, and attend Williams plays.

For more information on or to purchase tickets to the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, click here.

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