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Williams fest shouts 'Stella!'

October 16, 2009|Associated Press

Fans of playwright Tennessee Williams will be shouting for Stella this weekend in Clarksdale, Miss.

Williams drew some of his most powerful images from his boyhood hometown in the Mississippi Delta, where an annual festival now celebrates the city's role in Williams' award-winning stories.

The name Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire" belonged to a friend of Williams' mother in Clarksdale. Brick, the alcoholic athlete played by Paul Newman in the 1958 film "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," was the name of a local boy who bullied Williams while he was a student at Oakhurst Elementary.

The St. George's Episcopal Church, where Williams' grandfather once served as priest, still stands, as does Cutrer Mansion, where masked balls inspired imagery in some of the writer's plays as well as the fictional home Belle Rive in "Streetcar."

The Tennessee Williams Festival, produced by Coahoma Community College, begins today and features a Stella shouting contest, acting competitions, porch plays and panel discussions about Williams and his life in Mississippi.

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