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James Franco to Hold Seance for Spirit of Tennessee Williams

By Della Hasselle | November 7, 2011 4:16pm
James Franco will hold a seance to try and contact Tennessee Williams for a performance.
James Franco will hold a seance to try and contact Tennessee Williams for a performance.
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Jerod Harris/Getty Images

LOWER EAST SIDE — James Franco will try to contact playwright Tennessee Williams — who's been dead nearly 30 years — during a theater performance on the Lower East Side this weekend.

As part of New York City's "Performa 11," an arts festival taking place all over the city throughout November, Franco will try to communicate with Williams through a Oujia board at the Abrons Arts Center on Grand Street, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Called "Three Performances in Search of Tennessee," the performance will start when Franco and co-performer Laurel Nakadate "lead a séance with an invited group of special guests to communicate with Tennessee Williams through a Ouija board and receive instructions from the author’s spirit," according to the festival's website.

Next, "the group will pass his message on to the audience members, who will follow the spirit’s instructions."

Although it's unknown what Williams's instructions might be, Franco has another interactive plan for after the séance, named "theatrical karaoke." He and Nakadate will hold "auditions" for audience members to play the parts of Laura and Tom in Williams play "The Glass Menagerie."

The auditions, however, will take on a twist of their own when, karaoke-style, the audiences' lines will run along the bottom of a giant screen projection showing Franco playing "The Gentleman Caller" character in the play, according to the site.

Franco's event is just one of a packed calendar for the festival, which features comedy, film, art exhibitions, radio and much more throughout the month.

Other highlights include book shredding and ventriloquism during the performance "Psychedelic Noir" on Tuesday, a fortune-telling-based walking tour of the city during "Words Dash Against the Facade" on Friday, and a grand finale held in honor of punk pioneer and "Sex Pistols" founding member Malcom McLaren, to be held on Nov. 21.

Performa's director and curator said that the festival aims to open New Yorkers' eyes to a whole new side of art.

"Performa has changed peopleʼs minds about the very nature and meaning of artistsʼ performance,"  Rose LeeGoldberg said.

The board of directors chair, Jeanne Greenberg Rhatyn, agreed.

"Performa's biennial will once again transform the landscape of New York and send a jolt of energy throughout the city," Rhatyn said. "Whether a modest performance ro a large-scale production, there is always a sense that you have to be there."