In 2001, our founder, Brenda Caradine, began this annual commemoration by staging Williams’ classic play The Glass Menagerie. In the years that followed, she singlehandedly produced many of his works, promoted new scholarship and took Columbus’ productions to Provincetown, Mass. to be included in the preeminent theater festival devoted to his work.
Scores of local actors have enjoyed the rare opportunity to perform iconic roles in incredible plays – from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to A Streetcar Named Desire. Through Mrs. Caradine’s friendships over the years, she has brought rare artifacts from Williams’ personal life back to his birthplace in Columbus, including the Poet’s Laurel Wreath, which rested upon his chest at his funeral, and an Episcopal priest’s cross worn by his beloved grandfather. These items can be viewed in the home where Williams lived as an infant, now occupied by the Columbus Visitor’s Center.
TWT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to perpetuate Mrs. Caradine’s heartfelt love of literature and live drama for future generations of Columbus residents. Through Williams’ work, we celebrate the authentic Southern voice that continues to influence writers and artists around the globe.
Our faithful supporters and sponsors include the Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Mississippi University for Women, the Mississippi Humanities Council and generous benefactors from around the Golden Triangle Region.
“I have been attending the Tennessee Williams Tribute for a number of years and each year’s event has been more impressive than the last! I love how you mix events that feature his classic works with lesser-known or never-before-seen offerings!” – Pat M., Atlanta, Ga.
Throughout its history, the Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes has been fortunate to have had the participation of some of the top scholars and experts regarding the life and works of Tennessee Williams.
2019 T.W.T. Event Scholar
President, West Virginia University at Parkersburg
Chris Gilmer is President of West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Founder of the National Institutes for Historically-Underserved Students. Coming to West Virginia from Mississippi, he spent most of his career as an administrator and faculty member in the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) system, most recently as Executive Director of the Vicksburg, Mississippi Campus of Alcorn State University, the oldest public land-grant HBCU in America. He also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Adams State University, the oldest federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in Colorado. Dr. Gilmer earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi and is a tenured Professor of Humanities at WVU Parkersburg. As part of his doctoral program, he completed a major figure study on Tennessee Williams, studying with Dr. Philip Kolin, one of the most eminent figures in Tennessee Williams studies. In Studies in American Drama, Dr. Gilmer published one of the final academic interviews with Grammy and Emmy Award-winning actor and Kennedy Center honoree Ruby Dee based on her acclaimed portrayal of Amanda Wingfield in the revival of Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Williams Tribute in Columbus, Mississippi. Dr. Gilmer is a published author of nonfiction and children’s literature whose teaching interest focuses on what he calls the literature of the margins, the intersectionality of race with sex, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and other factors and the intersectionality of literature with other academic disciplines such as sociology, psychology, and history. He was the inaugural national chair of a network of technical assistance centers for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions, and has been a senior consultant for the U.S. Department of Education’s regional educational labs and comprehensive technical assistance centers for 15 years. Dr. Gilmer was one of the first scholar practitioners to combine the teaching of reading and writing to underprepared college students and modeled this practice to colleagues nationwide. He is a first-generation college student whose career is devoted primarily to promoting equity, inclusion, and success for all students, regardless of the circumstances of their birth or environment.
Past Scholars of The Tennessee Williams Tribute
Kenneth Holditch, PhD – 2013
Kolby Cullman, PhD – 2014
Ralph Voss, PhD – 2015
Milly Barringer- 2016
Steve Pieschel – 2017
Stuart Noel – 2018