Tennessee Williams is a well-known name and face around the country, but to those who live in and around Columbus, Miss., Williams is a cherished figure to whom the community gives a tribute to every year.
It’s become a tradition to have a Tennessee Williams week each fall in Columbus, and the people involved with the tribute did their best last week to celebrate the life and work of Williams according to their mission statement.
The tribute incorporated multiple events into one week, including a “Stella” shouting contest, which took place on Friday, Sept. 6. Downtown Columbus was occupied by multiple “shouters” doing their best impressions of Marlon Brando from Williams’ masterpiece, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and they were judged on emotion, originality and loudness. Not only did the winner gain the title, but he also ended up with dinner for two and a carriage ride to this year’s play, “Period of Adjustment,” which was directed by Paula Mabry.
The play itself was performed on Sept. 3, 4, 6 and 7 in Rent Auditorium on the W’s campus, and Shane Tubbs, who was cast as Ralph Bates, was back for another year of the Tennessee Williams Tribute. Tubbs has worked with the tribute multiple years now, and said that he enjoys meeting new actors and actresses each year through the T.W.T. productions, as well as getting the opportunity to work with his returning peers.
Melanie Hints, who performed as Dorothea Bates, was back this year as an actress, though last year she was the one directing the play for the celebrated tribute. She has worked with many other projects, but keeps coming back to the T.W.
“Tennessee Williams’ work allows the actors and actresses to explore their characters, often toying with the more outlandish aspects of their personalities,” she said.
Aside from the play and shouting contest, there was also a musical aspect to the week for those who would rather have seen a song cycle than a play. It was on Sept. 5 and was titled “Autumn Song.” The ensemble sang poems set to music that was taken mostly from a piece by George Mauer. Overall, the week was definitely a success.
“Our expectations have been met. It’s a packed house and has been a great success. The campus has welcomed us with open arms, and we are especially grateful to Dr. Borsig for being so open to anything arts related. We are always happy to provide cultural enrichment for the city,” said Brenda Caradine, chairman of the T.W.T.
As one more year of the Tennessee Williams Tribute passes by, so another one will soon begin starting once again. Because, after all, it takes multiple hands, jobs and time to make this magical week come to life.