LETTERS READ: A Conversation with Two Actors

The 2020 Season:

Letters Read: 12/21/20

December 31, New Years Eve
Listen to the podcast HERE

In an unprecedented shift from an intended, March production, we offer a remote interview with two professional actors, George Saucier and Colin Miller in Lafayette, Louisiana. Formatted within ten questions, this last 2020 offering threads excerpts from a two-hour conversation between George and Colin about being an actor, theatre as an art form, ruminations about Tennessee Williams, the Southern Gothic genre, and the arc of one’s career.

The audio production is by Steve Steve Chyzyk, and Steve Himelfarb, Sonic Canvas Studio in New Orleans. This project was made possible with the help of Acting Up (In Acadiana) and Amy Waguespack, Artistic Director, and founder of Acting Up.

The conversation took place in George’s Lafayette studio. Nancy Sharon Collins recorded in Sonic Canvas Studio. Sonic Canvas’s sound quality differs from that captured in George’s studio, and, you will hear the difference. While discussing early influences, both actors refer to the Children’s Community School. George later refers to this as CCS. “The script” is mentioned several times. This is the 2018 Letters Read script that was to be restaged with Acting Up in March, 2020, before the pandemic changed everything.

LETTERS READ: The Letters of Robert W. Stuart

November 30
Hosted by: Bastion | Community of Resilience
Gentilly, New Orleans.
William Bowling, Reader.
Steve Chyzyk, Audio Producer.
LISTEN HERE

Robert, “Bob” Stuart was born in 1923, just three years after women in this country were allowed to vote. Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana. He served in the Navy during WWII, was honorably discharged in May, 1946, and lived a long and productive life as a civil servant in New Orleans. This during a time in the middle of the 20th century when identifying, or being identified as gay—or queer—could  cause a dishonorable discharge from the military, strip you of civilian jobs, deny you housing, and ruin your reputation forever.

This event reflects upon the arc of Stuart’s life, the times through which he lived, and offers a tiny glimpse into correspondence from men who were his close and intimate friends, and one woman.

Letters and documents for this recording are from the Robert W. Stuart Papers, The Historic New Orleans Collection. Gift of Frank Perez, Acc. No. 2018.0225.

LETTERS READ: Skip Ward

Skip WardAugust 20
The Letters of Skip Ward
A podcast hosted by:
Alexandria Museum of Art
Alexandria, Louisiana.
LISTEN HERE

Blanchard, “Skip” Ward was a gay activist in rural Louisiana during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and into the beginning of the 21st century. His home was in Pineville across the river from Alexandria.

Skip became increasingly involved in LGBTQIA activism in the early 1980s when he first came out. Or, as he would have phrased it, “came up front” about his sexuality. He co-founded the Unitarian/Universalist Church’s Gay Caucus. He also created Louisiana’s first publication tailored to its gay population, called Le Beau Monde. Ward held some form of membership with nearly every Louisiana LGBTQIA organization from the 1970s onward and was particularly active in the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus (LAGPAC), a political activist organization, and the Radical (or Raedical) Faeries, a national organization for rural-based gender and sexual non-conforming spiritualists.

The emcee for this event is Shannon Flaherty, co-artistic director of Goat in the Road Productions (GRP). Frank Perez, president of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana reads as the voice of Northern Louisiana conservative clergy. Two other ensemble GRP members are part of this reading. Owen Ever reads as the voice of Skip Ward and Dylan Hunter is the audio engineer on this production. Original music is composed and performed by Dylan as well.

Ward’s letters provide a rare glimpse into rural gay life and the political struggles of the 1980s and 1990s. —excerpted from the caption to “Letter to A Friend Just Coming Up Front”, in the online exhibit, Women and Gender.

LETTERS READ: Stewart Butler

Stewart Butler Letters
April 26
The Letters of Stewart Butler
LISTEN HERE

The 14th Letters Read and first produced remotely and podcast.

Originally scheduled for March 26 at Frenchman Art & Books in New Orleans, this event was preempted by the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. Instead, listen to Dylan Hunter reading as the voice of our subject. Rebecca Hollingsworth is Anne. Both self-recorded in the safety of their own home. Our emcee is Frank Perez, President of LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. Frank was recorded through a telephone conversation with Dylan. Dylan is also our audio engineer for this event. Music is written and performed by Rob Hudak.

This event provides a rare glimpse into the personal life of an important Louisiana political activist. It begins with the 1967 correspondence from Anne, an intimate friend. The reading weaves in annual Valentine’s letters beginning in 1999 that, as recently as this year, were still mailed 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.

Thanks go Antenna, our fiscal agent. To David Zalkind, owner, Frenchman Art & Book, and to Dancing Grounds from whom we were borrowing chairs. The live audio engineer was to be Steve Chyzyk, Sonic Canvas Studio. Thanks also go to Bill Hagler, John Magill, Robert Feiseler, and Courtney Sharp for providing background and context. Thank you Letters Read narrative and storytelling advisors Ted Cotton and Cassie Pruyn.

LETTERS READ: 2019 Season Wrap-up

We are delighted to announce that Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has awarded LETTERS READ a Rebirth Grant for the 2020 programming season. *

Additionally, LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana, Corners Foundation, and The Reba Judith Sandler Foundation have each awarded grants for next year.

LETTERS READ Anniversary & Fundraising Bash was held Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019 at Orange Couch in New Orleans. It was a rousing success and we thank everyone who joined us and celebrated! There was a special reading by Christopher Kamenstein and the project director, stationer, Nancy Sharon Collins. Visual accompaniment was by Jeffrey Killion.

If you were unable to attend and would like to make a donation, go to antenna.works/donate/ and make sure to check the box that says, “Write us a comment” and include: “For LETTERS READ 2020 Season”.

Questions? Contact us!