Two festivals spanning two centuries of creativity in Clarksdale: behold the New Roxy theater and the Cutrer Mansion in action this weekend...
The Cutrer was built by Blanche Clark Cutrer, the daughter of Clarksdale's founder -- and inspiration for Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams' "Streetcar Named Desire." In Streetcar, Blanche has to leave her family home in small-town Mississippi, the "Belle Reve" inspired by the Cutrer. No matter how many times you've seen it, there's nothing like watching the film on a big screen, juxtaposed against the manse from which Blanche was so painfully torn.
The fictional Blanche declined after departing Belle Reve, and the Cutrer declined after the real Blanche died. It came close to demolition -- but was saved and restored in an incredible community effort.
The New Roxy Theater, just a few blocks away on Issaquena, also declined after sitting dormant for decades. Its restoration began in 2008, and necessitated tearing off the roof... to create what is now a one-of-a-kind amphitheater where you can rock out under the stars. The New Roxy is hosting the Deep Blues Festival this weekend, with incredible musicians from all over the country.
The Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival is featuring Streetcar this year, with actors and academics who came from all over the country to understand and celebrate this town that inspired Tennessee Williams so.
Many of the leaders and community members behind both restorations are behind the scenes or in attendance at both festivals this weekend -- give them a big THANKS when you see them.
In a small Delta town still dotted by faded brick buildings, it's easy to wonder at the decline some days. How wonderful to now see creativity still springing forth, inspiring the blues and writers and these heroic acts of community coming together to save and restore these beloved, beautiful buildings.
If you can't Visit Clarksdale this weekend, tune in to the Tennessee Williams Festival online and juke with us and Alvin Youngblood Hart On Tour at Deep Blues live on our page Live From Clarksdale tonight.
Streetcar shows at the Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival & the Deep Blues Festival onstage at the New Roxy (c) Shared Experiences USA