LETTERS READ: The nature of property, property ownership, and the origins of Felicity Redevelopment.

Sunday November 25, 2018
3:30 to 5:00pm
St John the Baptist Catholic Church
1139 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans
The script from this event was subsequently recorded live in the vault at Crescent City Books and was underwritten by Dorian Bennett and Felicity Redevelopment, Inc.

Twenty years ago, a Northshore, LA developer worked with New Orleans Mayor Morial, two City Council members and two Central City clergymen to demolish a 4-square city block area between St. Mary and Polymnia streets, Baronne and an altered Carondelet Streets. What was planned to replace historic, architecturally important homes was a suburban strip mall-style Albertsons grocery store more than 60,000 square feet large. Two of the four city blocks were planned to become a parking lot.

Locals and preservationists were in an uproar and a grand fight ensued.

This is the story of why and how Felicity Redevelopment began and how two women stopped the Albertsons project from being built.

Mack C. Guillory III, emcee.
Grace Kennedy, reader.
Jeffrey B. Goodman, urban planning consultant.
Kure Croker, information consultant.

“… Three houses … were dollied down Baronne Street … to make way for a new Albertsons supermarket …” —Excerpt from The Times-Picayune, August 9, 2000.

LETTERS READ: The Janet Mary Riley letters

Thursday, June 28
6:00-7:30pm at Loyola University Special Collections & Archives
J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, 3rd Floor
6363 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
Admission free and open to the public.
Listen to it here. The recording begins about 7 seconds in after hitting play.

Though Riley did not define herself as a second wave feminist, by today’s standards she was a quiet, fierce civil rights advocate and tireless women’s rights activist.

The Janet Mary Riley Papers reflect Riley’s academic career at Loyola University as the first female law professor in New Orleans, …Much is dedicated to her successful efforts to revise Louisiana’s community property laws to give women equal management of the community with their spouses.” —https://loynosca.omeka.net/collections/show/1

These letters represent a side of Riley few would ever know. The evening features emcee Chris Kaminstein, Co-Artistic Director of Goat in the Road Productions (GRP), and Leslie Boles Kraus.

Janet Mary Riley
“Janet Mary Riley, Colored Portrait 2 ,” Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives, accessed April 29, 2018, https://loynosca.omeka.net/items/show/33.

LETTERS READ: The Luck of Friendship

Friday, March 23rd at 1:00pm
Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carre

Listen to the complete event here.
The reading begins a few seconds into the recording.

Take a peek at the Tennessee Williams that only James Laughlin would have known—an intimate look through the lens of their personal letters to one another.  In the new book, The Luck of Friendship:  The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin, edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith we share the highs and lows of this incredibly prolific, urbane, highly social Williams not necessarily seen in works for which he is famous such as Glass Menagerie and Pulitzer Prize-winning Streetcar Named Desire. As a rare and special treat, here’s the personal memory of an evening with Williams from an interview with Peter Rogers, fellow transplanted New Orleanian, and very Southern Gentleman.

Christopher Kaminstein was the emcee.

Part of the 2018 New Orleans Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, staged readings by local performers including Jean Allemond, Dante Fuoco, Reed Everette, Colin Miller, Robert Valley, Dorian Bennett, Augustin Correro, Wes McWhorter, Nick Shackleford, and emceed by Chris Kaminstein.

LETTERS READ: Text Dating

Wednesday, February 14 (that’s right, Valentines Day!)
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Antenna Gallery

3718 Saint Claude Avenue
New Orleans
Admission free and open to the public.
Listen to recordings of ACT 1. and ACT 2.

Experience longings, playfulness, desire in the abbreviated form of text messages from:

  • Mikita Brottman
    Kyle Petrozza
    Anonymous
    John Rushing
    Cate Root
    Erin Callais
    Folwell Dunbar
    Chris Kamenstein
    Charles Thomas T. Strider
    Adam Newman

LETTERS READ: Veterans Day

Saturday, November 11th, 2017
6:30 to 8:30pm
Bastion
1901 Mirabeau Avenue, New Orleans
Admission is free and open to the public.
Listen to a recording of the performance here.

LETTERS READ: Veterans Day strives to find the little moments where lives of military service members and civilians intersect.

Readings focus on love letters from The National World War II Museum, letters from United States Army Air Force officer Francis I. Cervantes (courtesy of THNOC Williams Research Center) to his mother while training for and serving in WWII and courting his new bride, and correspondence between the all-woman World War I initiative that organized, administrated, and served in the Newcomb Relief Unit overseas.

The evening features emcee Chris Kaminstein, Co-Artistic Director of Goat in the Road Productions (GRP), with original music composed and presented by Peter J. Bowling, also ensemble member of GRP. Readers include Ashton Akridge, thespian and burlesque historian, and former GRP ensemble member, Mack Guillory III.

LETTERS READ gratefully presents the Veterans Day event at Bastion, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the intentionally designed community for returning warriors and families in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.

The above image was used as an illustration for 2017 LETTERS READ: Veterans Day. It shows a child’s miniature replication of  U.S. Army wool, roll collar overcoat similar to the original “olive drab” outer garment first issued 1927, revised 1939 and 1942, and issued to every soldier along with their service uniform through and after World War II. This coat, and accessories, were made in approximately 1945 by the wife of an army officer during WWII for their young son in a time when patriotism was a strong American sentiment.

LETTERS READ: Letters of Regret

Wednesday, September 13
6:30 pm
Antenna Gallery
3718 Saint Claude Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117.

celebrates the visual form of human rejection, giving public voice to those words that can be most difficult to write or read.

Admission is free and open to the public.

This evening features regrets from the personal correspondence of:

Bob Snead
Bart Everson
Rosalie Smith
Christopher Louis Romaguera
Kate Mason
Asiyah DeGruy
Adrienne Breaux
Nancy Sharon Collins
DJ Boyd
Julia Evans
Sara Jacobelli
Barbara Hammond (read by Ryn Wilson)
Rob Hudak

Regrets will be hosted by Chris Kaminstein, co-Artistic Director of Goat in the Road Productions, accompanied by Rob Hudak and his 1940s Gibson acoustic guitar.

During the evening we will also celebrate the release of the new book by Antenna’s Press Street Press, entitled Letters featuring the personal correspondence of Barbara Hammond to her niece, New Orleans based photographer Ryn Wilson. The book pairs the letters with Wilson’s photos of the era.

Transcription of the photo-montage above for LETTERS READ: Regrets:
“Patricia[,] 
I am on my way to California[.] 
Lyle 
[P.S.] I have no ideas as to what to say.”

LETTERS READ: Hermann & Grima Family Letters

Thursday, June 29th, 2017
6:30-8:00 pm
Hermann-Grima House
820 St. Louis Street.

The evening readings are by thespian and burlesque historian Ashton Akridge, Big Easy Award winner Richard Mayer, along with a relative newcomer on the New Orleans theatre scene, Aaron Richert, currently performing in Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre.

This event gives a special glimpse into the personal lives of a few, well to do, French Quarter residents from the antebellum era to battlefield accounts during the Civil War. Readings also include: a love triangle resulting in a duel, antiquated healthcare techniques such as blood letting with leeches and home made small pox remedies—and—the occasional personal request (heavily paraphrased here) “dear brother…while you’re out and about during your Parisian stay, would you mind picking up for me a little opium?”

In addition to Hermann-Grima+ Gallier Historic Houses (HGGHH) staff, several institutions and individuals are instrumental in making this Letters Read segment possible: Jenny Dyer, Education Director, HGGHH, Nicole Horne, Tulane University doctoral candidate for translating, editing, and notating some of the letters, Tulane University Howard-Tilton Memorial Library and The Historic New Orleans CollectionWilliams Research Center (WRC) where some of the letters are housed. Thanks also to M. L. Eichhorn, Senior Reference Associate at WRC, and Dr. Adrienne McFaul helping formulate the evening’s introduction.

Photo: Pocket surgical instrument case, used by Dr. Victor Grima (1837-1877) Charrière, Paris, circa 1860-65. Courtesy of the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses, Gift of Joseph Grima Bernard.

LETTERS READ: Lafcadio Hern

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
6:00 to 8:00 pm
Crescent City Books
124 Baronne Street.

For the inaugural event, we are excited to present a program with the letters of Lafcadio Hearn. The evening will feature sociologist Dr. Adrienne McFaul providing some context for the letters, with readings from Ashton Akridge and Big Easy Award winner Richard Mayer.

Hearn wrote of New Orleans:

“There are few who can visit her for the first time without delight; and few who can ever leave her without regret; and none who can forget her strange charm when they have once felt its influence. To a native of the bleaker Northern clime—if he have any poetical sense of the beautiful in nature, any love of bright verdure and luxuriance of landscape—the approach to the city by river, must be in itself something indescribably pleasant. The white steamer gliding through an unfamiliar world of blue and green . . . the waving cane; the evergreen fringe of groves weird with moss . . . as though one were sailing to some far-off glimmering Eden.”

The letters also provide an unedited glimpse into Hearn’s world, which contains language and thoughts that may offend. A special thanks to Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives, for providing letters from their Lafcadio Hearn Correspondence Collection, and to Michael Zell for hosting the event at Crescent City Books.