MS Delta Tennessee Williams Festival Goes Online for 2020

28th Annual MS Delta Tennessee Williams Festival to Focus on 1947 Play Summer and Smoke

CLARKSDALE, MS – Preparations are in full swing for the 28th annual Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival (MDTWF) special online programming this year. The initial schedule features opportunities for interactive workshops, scholarly presentations and talks, along with performances of Williams’ work.

A final schedule of all events will be released in the weeks leading up to October’s festival.

“It’s our hope, during this ever changing time, this initial schedule can help those long-time supporters of the festival, or those looking to this online event as an opportunity to participate for the first time begin to get an idea of how this year’s event will take place. We’ll be adding and refining the programming in the coming weeks and truly believe this will be an exciting three days in October,” said Dr. Matt Foss, this year’s artistic director.

Individuals interested in registering for events or signing up for subsequent information are asked to email: deltawilliamsfestival@gmail.com or sign up for the Festival newsletter here: DeltaWilliamsFestival.com

Of special note, in addition to a number of pre-festival and programming deadlines to help accommodate taking the festival online, individuals, families and artists of all kinds and from all over the world are invited to submit a special hello or short performance of Williams’ work from the safety of their own porch for this year’s special Digital Porch Plays.

Traditionally, performers from around the country share parts of Williams’ work from the porches of the homes in the historic district where he often walked and played as a child. This year, we are asking you to record a short message, greeting or a short piece from your favorite Williams’ text from your own porch, which will be shared along with an exciting slate of performances on Saturday, October 17th.

Full instructions for how to submit your greeting or piece can be found at the Williams Festival website, with a deadline of Monday, September 28th for your recording to be included.

Information on registration, streaming sites and additional programming will be updated daily so be sure to check the festival website or sign up for email updates.

The festival is sponsored by Coahoma Community College with support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and the Coahoma County Tourism Commission.

For more information, contact Jen Waller at 662-645-3555 or jwaller@coahomacc.edu.


Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival Receives Special Achievement Award from MIAL and Grant Awards from MAC, MHC and Clarksdale Tourism

CLARKSDALE, MS – The Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival (MDTWF) was recognized recently with a Special Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters as well as grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC), Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) and the Coahoma County Tourism Commission. These awards come as the festival is finalizing plans to make the 28th Annual MDTWF, to be held October 15-17, an innovative and impactful online experience that keeps festival participants safe while developing technological strengths that will help it grow in the future.

“At a time when the arts community is still very much reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are truly delighted to be able to provide grant funding to worthy organizations across the state,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “We applaud and are proud to support the efforts these organizations have made to keep the arts alive in their communities.”

Dr. Matt Foss, a theatre professor at the University of Toledo who is serving as the artistic director of the festival this year, addressed the changes.

“This will be a unique year,” said Dr. Foss. “We’ve been able to translate much of the programming we had planned for the fall into an online format that will allow members of the Clarksdale community as well as festival guests from out of town to participate while remaining safe during this health crisis. Rather than see the pandemic as an obstacle, we choose to view it as an opportunity to find innovative ways to share the stories of Tennessee Williams and the Mississippi Delta in a way that will reach more people than ever before.”

Scholarly presentations and performances of Williams’ work will still feature prominently in the festival’s programming along with the annual High School Acting competition. All events will be presented through high-quality online streaming that will be professionally produced for festival guests.

“Education and outreach remain a priority for the festival,” said Jen Waller, Director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center who serves as the festival’s project manager for Coahoma Community College, “and that is why we are so pleased to have Dr. Foss working with 

us this year. He brings a wealth of experience to our festival. We know this crisis is disappointing in so many ways, but it will also help us ultimately become a larger festival with a bigger footprint. I believe it’s all going to work out just fine, and we will learn a whole lot in the process.”

Workshops and learning experiences for students and festival goers will be organized to allow for those participating from home to be fully involved while expanding the festival’s offerings to those who have not been able to visit Clarksdale in person for the festival.

Organizers also hope to be able to offer a socially-distanced community access space at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, most likely in the Norman Brown Commons Building behind the Cutrer Mansion, so participants can view the live stream from a specific location if they so desire.

An online schedule with access information to the festival streams will be announced soon. Those who are interested in participating in the online festival are encouraged to visit the website https://deltawilliamsfestival.com/ so they can sign up for news updates through our mailing list.

The festival is sponsored by Coahoma Community College with support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and the Coahoma County Tourism Commission.

For more information, contact Jen Waller at 662-645-3555 or jwaller@coahomacc.edu.