The Rose Tattoo

This article is about the 1951 play. For other uses, see Rose Tattoo (disambiguation).
The Rose Tattoo

First edition cover (New Directions)
Written by Tennessee Williams
  • Serafina Delle Rose
  • Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Man
  • The Strega
  • Father De Leo
  • Doctor
  • Teresa
  • Flora
  • Salesman
  • Miss Yorke
  • Rosa Delle Rose
  • Peppina
  • Salvatore
Date premiered 3 February 1951
Place premiered Martin Beck Theatre
Original language English
Genre Drama
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 the film adaptation was released in 1955. It tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death, and expects her daughter to do the same.

The original Broadway play starred Maureen Stapleton, Phyllis Love, and Eli Wallach. The play was recreated for a July 5, 1953, hour-long radio adaptation on the program Best Plays.[1] Recordings of the radio drama exist in archives and private collections. Other original cast members of the 1951 Broadway play included Martin Balsam and Vivian Nathan.[2]

The play was revived in 1966, again starring Maureen Stapleton, with Maria Tucci replacing Phyllis Love in the role of Rose Delle Rose. Tucci was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance. [3]

The film was adapted by Williams and Hal Kanter and directed by Daniel Mann, starring Anna Magnani, Burt Lancaster, Marisa Pavan and Jo Van Fleet.

On May 12, 1957, the Pike Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, 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, Seán 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.[4]

The 2007 revival at the Royal National Theatre starred Zoë Wanamaker and Susannah Fielding.

New Directions Publishing reissued the play in 2010 with a new introduction by playwright John Patrick Shanley.

Awards and nominations-original production

Maureen Stapleton and Don Murray, 1951


  1. Kirby, Walter (July 5, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved July 5, 2015 via
  2. Barnes, Mike (2015-04-10). "Vivian Nathan, Original Member of The Actors Studio, Dies at 98". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  3. The Rose Tattoo 1966 Playbill Vaultaccessed 11/23/2016
  4. Morash, Christopher (2002). A History of Irish Theatre: 1601–2000 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-521-64682-6.
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