How many hometowns does Tennessee Williams have? Clarksdale, New Orleans, Provincetown, Mass., and Columbus all have a claim on the playwright and all hold literary events in his honor.
We”ve heard the argument that Williams only lived the first few years of his life here, so why the big to-do? We believe we have as strong a right as anyone — Columbus is, after all, the only town that can claim it”s the birthplace of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.
Columbus” Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes, which ended Sunday, appears a success. We spotted the Convention and Visitors Bureau”s double-decker tour bus chock full of visitors and locals, touring the town last week. Performances of the Williams plays “The Case of the Crushed Petunias” and “Sweet Bird of Youth” during the week attracted enthusiastic, and in some cases, large audiences. Scholarly presentations were lively and well-received. Home tours attracted an impressive crowd for a Sunday afternoon.
New to the tribute this year was the highly entertaining “Stella Shouting Contest,” held downtown on Friday in front of Holly Hocks gift shop. The contest was only lightly attended, and we hope that it continues to catch on in coming years. (The one put on in the French Quarter in New Orleans each year draws hundreds.) It may help if the contest were held in the evening, when more people who work could attend.
Also new this year was the coming-out party for the renovated Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center downtown. The house is spruced up inside and out, and is certainly worth a visit.
We hear a common complaint that there “isn”t anything to do” in Columbus. Admittedly, a literary tribute and home tour are decidedly highbrow. But we think there was something in this year”s tribute that could appeal to just about anyone interested in learning more about one of the city”s most famous sons.
We thank the volunteers that work so hard to put on an enjoyable tribute each year, and appeal to them to continue to schedule events and devise new ways to keep the festival fresh and interesting for locals as well as visitors.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.