Kwame Kwei-Armah tells us the story of playwright Thomas "Tennessee" Williams, exploring the creative influence of his childhood home.
Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1911 and spent a great deal of his childhood in Clarksdale, living in the church rectory with his grandparents, mother and sister, while his travelling salesman father was largely absent.
The rich influences of his religious upbringing in the Deep South have all influenced his plays. Many refer to actual places in Coahoma County and some of his most famous characters - Blanche, Brick, Baby Doll, Stella and Amanda Wingfield - are named after real life Clarksdale residents.
The Annual Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival was established in 1993 to celebrate both his talent and the cultural heritage immortalized in dramas like The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Streetcar Named Desire and Orpheus Descending. The Clarksdale festival is held in mid-October and plays are performed on porches and in venues, offering an authentic backdrop to the action.
Contributors include residents of Clarksdale; aficionados of Tennessee Williams' work; the American musician Charlie Musselwhite; and some of the actors who have taken on his characters, including Brenda Blethyn.
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