Letters Read is a series of live events in which local performers interpret historically interesting letters written by culturally vital individuals from various times and Louisiana communities.

Co-hosted by stationer Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer LLC and Antenna, this is an ongoing Louisiana initiative bringing general audiences into intimate moments usually experienced while reading a personal letter from one whom we know. Additional support has been provided by Crescent City BooksDorian 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 program has partnered with many cultural institutions. Some have provided original source content and programming support. Examples are Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives, Newcomb Archives, Hermann-Grima+Gallier Historic HousesThe National World War II Museum, The Historic New Orleans Center Williams Research CenterVorhoff Library Special Collections, and Bastion, 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 we provide an open mic night. Sometimes administrated through Antenna’s Submittable platform. Others are true open mic nights encouraging one-at-a-time audience participation. All events, those based on history and those with contemporary content, strive to use intimate, 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.”

Following is the list of previous events:

Sunday, August 25th, 2019
LETTERS READ: Lafcadio Hearn, Revisited
Crescent City Books
124 Baronne Street, New Orleans

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Crescent City Books
124 Baronne Street, across from the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans
Watch and listen to Charlie Bishop talk about erasing his doctoral dissertation here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
LETTERS READ: The Desegregation of New Orleans Public Libraries
Nora Navra Library
1902 St. Bernard Avenue, New Orleans
Listen to the performance here.

Sunday November 25, 2018
READ: The nature of property, property ownership
 and the origins of Felicity Redevelopment.
St John the Baptist Catholic Church
1139 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans

Thursday, June 28, 2018
LETTERS READ: The Janet Mary Riley letters
Loyola University Special Collections & Archives
J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library
6363 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans
Listen to the performance here.

Friday, March 23, 2018
LETTERS READ: The Luck of Friendship
Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carre, French Quarter, New Orleans
Listen to the performance here.

Wednesday, February 14 (that’s right, Valentines Day), 2018
Antenna Gallery
3718 Saint Claude Avenue, New Orleans
Listen to the performance here,
and here

Saturday, November 11, 2017
LETTERS READ: Veterans Day
1901 Mirabeau Avenue, New Orleans
Listen to the performance here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
LETTERS READ: Letters of Regret
Antenna Gallery
3718 St Claude Avenue, New Orleans

Thursday, June 29, 2017
LETTERS READ: Hermann and Grima Family Letters
Hermann-Grima House
820 Saint Louis Street, New Orleans

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
LETTERS READ: Lafcadio Hearn, Summer of 1886
Grand Isle Letters from Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives
Crescent City Books
124 Baronne Street, New Orleans

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Sneak-peak to LETTERS READ
A Studio In The Woods
13401 Patterson Road, New Orleans