Happy 100th Birthday, Tennessee Williams! [Updated]

This month (on March 26, to be exact), our own Tennessee Williams would have turned 100. And to mark the centennial, various groups across the country are hosting exhibits and celebrations honoring the scribe of St. Louis. (OK, the scribe of Mississippi, too. And New Orleans. And New York. But he went to high school here, and that means everything!)

Here in town, the Gaslight Theatre presents "The State of Tennessee: A Centennial Tribute to Tennessee Williams" April 8-10, featuring scenes from the Big Three of the Williams canon: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The events are benefits for local organizations the St. Louis Actors' Studio (Friday), the St. Louis Beacon (Saturday) and the CWE Association (Sunday).

Further south, a new exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection called "Drawn to Life: Al Hirschfeld and the Theater of Tennessee Williams," will run through April 3 in the collection's French Quarter gallery. The exhibit features 125 items, including 50 drawings by Hirschfeld -- a St. Louis legend himself -- along with 75 items from the collection's permanent Williams holdings. Among them are his mother's diary, handwritten letters to and from the playwright's family and friends, manuscripts and unpublished works.

Also in New Orleans, the "CenTENNial" will bring together several writers, scholars and directors, who'll discuss their own work. There'll also be a "Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest" in Jackson Square on March 27. Ste-LAHHHHH!

Travel over to Williams's birthplace of Columbus, Mississippi, and you'll find various Williams events that coincide with the town's annual Spring Pilgrimage celebrations, in tribute to the antebellum South. The festivities include an exhibition of Playbill and movie paraphernalia at the Columbus-Lowndes Library and performances of Williams' more obscure plays at the Rosensweig Arts Center. (See a recent New York Times article for more info.)

For a good read on Williams and his local ties, check out staff writer Aimee Levitt's 2010 feature "Literary St. Louis."

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