'The Rose Tattoo' blossoms on a USC stage
By: Kevin Bush, email@example.com, 803-777-9353
Tennessee Williams’ Tony Award-winning masterpiece, “The Rose Tattoo,” will be presented in the University of South Carolina Lab Theatre, Nov. 15-18.
Show times for the production are 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $5 and available on a first-come, first-served basis at the theatre. The Lab Theatre, the university’s intimate “black box” performance space, is at 1400 Wheat St., across from Blatt P.E. Center.
Illustrative of Williams’ penchant for melodrama and his signature gift with language, “The Rose Tattoo” weaves the tale of Serafina Delle Rose, a Sicilian seamstress living in the American South, who has withdrawn from society after the death of her husband. When a stranger with an odd resemblance to her husband arrives, she takes an emotional journey that promises to bring her out of despair and back to life and love.
Directed by Rocco Thompson, a senior theatre major, the production will present Williams’ work through the influential lens of another icon of dramatic storytelling, filmmaker Federico Fellini.
“My love for the films of Federico Fellini is almost as voracious as my love for Tennessee Williams,” Thompson said. After reading this play, I started to see connections between many of Fellini's heroines -- in films such as “Nights of Cabiria,” “Amarcord,” “8 ½” and “Serafina.” The surreal, sensual, and allegorical elements of the play seemed to be taken straight out of a mid-‘60s Fellini film. My thought was, ‘What would “The Rose Tattoo” be like if it were directed by Fellini?’ And that has been the through-line for my creative process thus far.”
Thompson said he also finds significant contemporary relevance in the play, as well as insight into Williams’ life.
“In my opinion,‘The Rose Tattoo’ is the only play in which Tennessee Williams forgives himself,” Thompson said. “His writing was often autobiographical and his suffering heroines consistently mirrored his neuroses and thoughts and almost always came to bad ends. This play, however, is different. Written at the height of his infatuation with the love of his life, Williams seems to be saying to the world, ‘This is what I am; I won't apologize for not fitting into your little box.’”
Thompson said Williams explores his feelings about Serafina by not meshing with a society that consistently tries to clip his wings while still allowing for a happy ending.
“In a time where people are questioning the nature and purpose of Christianity and issues of homosexuality, I think ‘The Rose Tattoo’ has a lot to say about doing what you feel is right for you in your heart regardless of the status quo.”
Thompson, who has appeared in numerous university productions, including the recent staging of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” refers to directing as his “true calling.” He has directed shows at the university’s Benson Theatre, and this past summer was part of a directing assistantship program at the Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge, Mass., where he directed a staged reading of a play written by and starring Maria Tucci, whose performance in the 1966 Broadway production of “The Rose Tattoo” earned her a Tony nomination.