New Year’s Eve Podcast.
In an unprecedented shift from an intended, March production, Letters Read offers 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. He and Colin following appropriate COVID-19 protocol. Nancy Sharon Collins recorded in Sonic Canvas Studio, wearing a mask when the mic was off. Sonic Canvas’s sound quality differs from that captured in George’s studio. You will hear the difference lending a somewhat immediate layer to yet another remote production.
While discussing early influences to their careers, 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.
This is the last event in the 2020 Letters Read programming season. Stay tuned in March, 2021 for the letters of Edgar Degas during his brief, eighteen months living in New Orleans.
Curated and directed by stationer, Nancy Sharon Collins, and fiscal sponsor Antenna, each reading brings general audiences into intimate moments usually experienced while reading a personal letter from one whom one knows.
Major support for the 2020 programming season is provided by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities,* LGBTQ+ Archives Project of Louisiana, Corner Foundation and Reba Judith Sandler Foundation. Over the last three years, additional support has been provided by The Louisiana Museum Foundation, Crescent City Books, Dorian Bennett Sotheby’s International Realty, Felicity Redevelopment, Inc., Friends of the New Orleans Public Library, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.
Since May 2017, this series continues to partner with many cultural institutions providing original source content and programming support. Examples are Goat in the Road Productions, Acting Up (in Acadiana), Alexandria Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum, Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives, Louisiana Division/City Archives & Special Collections, Hermann-Grima+Gallier Historic Houses, The National World War II Museum, The Historic New Orleans Center Williams Research Center, Vorhoff Library Special Collections, and Bastion, a community of resilience.
Letters Read provides unique glimpses into thoughts meant only for two people, author, and recipient. Letters we read from a close friend or relative can be as mundane as who brings Thanksgiving turkey and as complex as explanations of hardship. Personal letters can also explode with emotion, express tenderness and love. Three times annually the readings are from institutional archives, special collections, personal and business records.
Once a year this project provides an opportunity to include contemporary material. All events, those based on history and those with content which is new, strive to use intimate, written, human interactions as models for how we get along today.
To further explain the power we perceive in reading letters, offered here is a quote from Donald Windham. Williams and Windham were long-time friends and collaborators. In this passage, Windham describes reading one of Tennessee’s letters addressed to him.
‘They are as intimate as his presence was, and often more informative. To read them is to know why I liked him. Alone with his typewriter he talked to me almost as to an ideal listener, as though he knew that my faith in him was total. If he sometimes, to use his phrase, is “striking poses on paper”, they are poses for himself not for someone else.’
* The 2020 Letters Read Season is funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For the full list of previous events, go here.
Background image: 1951 Irving Penn portrait of Tennessee Williams in New York. Credit: Irving Penn for Vogue, April 15, 1951/Condé Nast.