LETTERS READ is the ongoing series of live events in which local performers interpret personal letters written by culturally vital individuals from various times and Louisiana communities. Events are free and open to the general public. Several readings are podcast here

LETTERS READ 2020 Season

In the manner a visual can affect us directly rather than the same point explained in many words, this image evokes Letters Read programming for 2020. Thank you Wallace Merritt for the use of this photograph. It refers to many cultural triggers, such as anti-discrimination law, to be explored this year.

The Letters of Stewart Butler

Frenchmen Art & Books
600 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA.

Due to an overabundance of caution, we have decided to postpone our event. The new date will be posted soon.

Emcee Frank Perez, readers Dylan Hunter and Rebecca Hollingsworth. Audio engineer Steve Chyzyk, Sonic Canvas Studio.

This event provides a rare glimpse into the personal life of an important Louisiana political activist. It begins with the 1967 era correspondence from Ann, an intimate friend. The reading weaves in annual Valentine’s letters beginning in 1999 that Stewart still mails to 200 of his dearest friends.

Since the 1970s, Butler has been a significant force in the Louisiana civil rights movement. In 1984, 1986 and 1991 he strategically advocated for changing gay-rights ordinances. Butler was a co-founder of LGPAC (the Louisiana chapter of Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus) and has served on boards including the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, PFLAG, and LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana.

New for 2020, a collection of incubator-style events, happenings, and recordings. Listen to the first. Each contains material that may and may not be used in regular programming. As with this first experimental reading, some are letters from the archives of primary subject persons, such as Stewart Butler. Others may be oral histories of individuals surrounding subjects in the regular program. Still others may be abstract musings on themes filtering through main subject narratives for 2020.

Taboo Busting, a panel discussion
Hotel Monteleone, Riverview Room

Panelists: Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr., John Whittier Treat, Marion Hill.

In conjunction with the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and the Saints and Sinners conference, Letters Read offers a second, experimental musing. How do we talk about things that were once taboo? How do we reconcile with language that has become politically derisive and now appears taboo?

With Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) as its center point, this panel will examine the canons of 20th-century narrative and how institutional bias is viewed today.

Professionally, Hearn was an internationally recognized journalist credited with putting New Orleans on the map as a tourist destination and introducing Japan to readers in the West. As a man, he pursued a transgressive, outsider existence embracing, and writing literature that crossed Reconstruction-era cultural taboos.

Tuesday, May 12
The Letters of Tennessee Williams

In collaboration with Acting Up (In Acadiana)
Acadiana Center for the Arts
101 W. Vermilion Street, Lafayette, LA.

Thursday, July 16
The Letters of Skip Ward

Alexandria Museum of Art
933 2nd Street, Alexandria, LA.

Wednesday, November 11
Letters from Bob Stewart and other Louisiana Veterans
Bastion, community of resilience
1901 Mirabeau Avenue, New Orleans.

Questions? Contact us!