The Rose Tattoo
|The Rose Tattoo|
1st edition cover (New Directions)
|Written by||Tennessee Williams|
|Date premiered||3 February 1951|
|Place premiered||Martin Beck Theatre|
|Setting||Gulf Coast village between New Orleans and Mobile.|
The Rose Tattoo is a Tennessee Williams play. It opened on Broadway in February 1951, and a film adaptation was released in 1955. It tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Louisiana who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death, and expects her daughter to do the same. The Broadway play starred Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach both of whom recreated their roles for a 1953 hour-long radio adaptation on the program Best Plays. Recordings of the radio drama exist in archives and private collections.
On May 12th 1957, The Pike Theatre staged "The Rose Tattoo" with Anna Manahan as the lead and the Irish scenic artist Reginald Gray as the set designer. After a short run the theatre was invaded by the Irish police and director Alan Simpson was arrested for producing "a lewd entertainment" for miming dropping a condom onto the floor. Williams' script calls for a condom to fall out of a pocket during the show but the Pike staging mimed the act, knowing it would cause conflict. An intellectual revolt against the closing of ""The Rose Tattoo"" came from not only Ireland but from the continent, led by playwrights Samuel Beckett, Sean O'Casey and Brendan Behan. Alan Simpson was later released. The presiding judge, Justice O'Flynn, ruled: 'I can only infer that by arresting the accused, the object would be achieved of closing down the play.' One of the results of this case was that any charges brought against theatre would have to be proved before the show could be forced to close.
New Directions Publishing reissued the play in 2010 with a new introduction by playwright John Patrick Shanley.
Awards and nominations 
- 1951 Tony Award for Best Play
- 1951 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play – Eli Wallach
- 1951 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play – Maureen Stapleton
- 1951 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design – Boris Aronson
- 1951 Theatre World Award – Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach
- Detailed plot summary and analysis of The Rose Tattoo
- Rose Tattoo at the Internet Broadway Database
- The Rose Tattoo (film) at the Internet Movie Database
- 1953 Best Plays radio adaptation of original play at Internet Archive
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