Tennessee’s Town
As many locals and non-natives have discovered, New Orleans is a magnetic place that’s rife with inspiration; filled with modern-day Bohemians, it’s a delight for those involved in the arts, be they painters, performers, poets or storytellers.
Tennessee Williams, one such character who drifted down here from Missouri, found New Orleans to often be the perfect setting for his stories and plays, some of which have become world-famous.
Noted thespians, authors and other creative forces will be in town to celebrate and discuss Williams’ legacy for the 23rd annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, held March 25-29.
Notable participants in the festival include Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Ford and Rick Bragg; Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare; poet and memoirist Mark Doty; bestselling authors John Berendt and Negada Barr; playwright John Biguenet; writer Tom Piazza; TV crime drama mastermind David Simon; and many other illustrious talents. Throughout the course of the five-day fête, there will be panel discussions, staged readings, theatrical performances, culinary events, walking tours, master classes and contests. Taking place at venues around the city (primarily in the French Quarter), the festival will celebrate and inspire creative minds everywhere.
Information, 581-1144, www.tennesseewilliams.net.

Springtime Seduction
March 20 and 22, the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts will host performances of New Orleans Opera Association’s Carmen. Though it’s a French opera by Georges Bizet, Carmen takes place in Seville, Spain during the 1830s. The story concerns a beautiful, seductive gypsy and the men she “conquers” with her love. Though it was once denounced as immoral, the opera is now highly acclaimed, exciting and, of course, scandalous. The audience will witness Carmen seducing the corporal Don José, an inexperienced soldier, who then rejects his former lover, Micaela. The relationship between Carmen and Don José, as one might expect, has passionate beginnings yet proves to be ill-fated, as the flirtatious Carmen eventually falls for someone else, resulting, ultimately in tragedy.
The saucy Rinat Shaham will put on quite a fiery performance as Carmen, joined by tenor Fernando de la Mora as Don José.
Conductor Robert Lyall will lead the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and New Orleans’ own Sarah Jane McMahon lights up the stage as Micaela.
Information, 529-2278, www.neworleansopera.org.

Sick Humor
The Southern Rep Threatre presents National New Play Network’s New Orleans’ premiere of Zayd Dohrn’s Sick, a play for hypochondriacs, germophobes and anyone looking for a laugh during the “ides of March.”
The play involves a family of germophobes who have severe allergies to everything, including city air. Essentially living in a vacuum-sealed home, the family is forced to come to grips with their collective neuroses when the father brings home a graduate student/poet to shake up their germ-free world. The results of the “intruder” are laughable and chaotic, and the intimate theater serves as the perfect venue for the Sunday matinee “talk backs” with the cast members. Previews of the play begin on March 11; Opening night is March 14 and includes a Whole Foods Market-sponsored reception.
Performances are held through April 5. The production of Sick is part of the National New Play Network’s “Continued Life of New Plays Fund,” a cooperative venture that’s designed to ensure that new plays will see future productions beyond their initial world premiere.
Information, 522-6545, www.southernrep.com.

Empowering Monologues
For the third year in a row, Ashé Cultural Arts Center presents The Vagina Monologues, created by the award-winning Eve Ensler. The production has been performed in cities across the world. While it started with just three monologues, over the years the numbers of performances have increased, read by a number of women. The monologues vary – some are humorous, some are sad, and the topics range from love to sexual assault and abuse – and the goal of the performances is to encourage female empowerment.
Creator Ensler has also launched V-Day, a global nonprofit that has so far raised millions of dollars for women’s antiviolence groups.
This show aims to bring about awareness in hopes of wiping out domestic violence against women. This year, the performances will be held March 6 and 7, with proceeds from the local show benefiting the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and Crescent House.
Information, 569-9070.

Luck of the Irish
In case you’re in parade withdrawal from last month’s festivities, you’re in luck. The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade will wind its way through the Irish Channel and Magazine Street on March 14 with a delightful combination of marching groups, bands and signature floats from which parade-goers can catch a variety of shamrock beads, roses, panties, garters and vegetables. The walking groups are highly interactive with the crowd, spreading cheer and celebration of their Irish heritage, so make sure to wear green.
Information, www.irishchannelno.org.