Invitation from ATCA chair

Invitation from ATCA chair

Laissez les bontemps rouler!

The Big Easy beckons you and it’s open for business — ATCA business! Whether you call it the Crescent City, NOLA, N’Awlins or the Big Easy, you’ll find its French Quarter streets paved with beignets, chicory coffee, Sazeracs, pralines and Hurricanes (the kind you drink, not the kind that blow). Come for the voodoo and jazz, stay for the theatre and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (TWNOLF), the centerpiece of our 2015 Annual Conference, March 25-29. Take a side trip down the Mississippi River to the Battle of New Orleans historic site, or ferry across Old Man River for a stroll through one of the vast Mardi Gras warehouses. Sample some smoked alligator, Gulf oysters, etoufee, red beans and rice or authentic jambalaya.

Our Conference will begin officially early Wednesday evening, March 25, but for those who arrive early, the afternoon offers a visit to the National World War II Museum and its Stage Door Canteen, with a performance of America’s Sweethearts, period hits ala the Andrews Sisters.

The three days that follow will begin with important ATCA general membership meetings (with breakfast) and ExCom elections at our hotel, the Astor Crowne Plaza French Quarter, and offer evening or matinee performances at top local theatre troupes: Rivertown Theatre, Southern Repertory Theatre and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. Also, we’ll take in readings of several Williams plays as part of the TWNOLF, and also attend an atmospheric performances of Tenn’s Hotel Plays at the historic Hermann-Grima House in the Quarter. Panel discussions will feature playwrights John Patrick Shanley and Martin Sherman, and distinguished critic John Lahr, whose new book, The Mad Man’s Pilgrimage of the Flesh, is a biographical study of Williams.

There will be transportation by private buses to venues outside the French Quarter, but members should be aware that buses are not allowed in the Quarter itself. There will be walks (on flat streets) of several blocks to/from Conference venues within the Quarter. As usual, we will complete our Conference by 1PM on Sunday, March 29.

Our 2015 Annual Conference is underwritten in part by a generous and deeply-appreciated grant from the New Orleans Theatre Association (NOTA). Our Conference chair, Alan Smason, has worked his NOLA butt off to make sure everything is ready for us.

    Online registration is open NOW. EARLY BIRD RATES CLOSE FEB. 22, which also is the cut-off date for our bloc of hotel rooms. Just click this link to register: {link coming later today]

Hotel booking info, which you must do separately, already has been sent out. The Astor Crowne Plaza French Quarter rate of $159/night (plus taxes and fees) really is an extraordinary deal for high season in New Orleans. Check the various hotel booking sites and see for yourself. I did, and found all offered rates for our property at least $100 higher. Our room bloc is only 55 rooms and our cut-off date is February 22, so do not delay! When the rooms are gone, you’ll be on your own to find accommodations.

    As the old Dixieland jazz song goes, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” Don’t miss our first-ever Annual Conference in one of America’s truly legendary and historic cities.

—  Jonathan Abarbanel

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