New Theatre Quarterly

Research Article

The Diva and the Demon: Ingmar Bergman Directs The Rose Tattoo

Dirk Gindt

Abstract

In this article Dirk Gindt discusses Ingmar Bergman's 1951 production of Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo in the small Swedish town of Norrköping, demonstrating how Bergman methodically ignored the tragicomic nature of the play in order to develop and exaggerate its comic and grotesque elements. After extensive cuts and alterations in the script, the character Serafina delle Rose became even more overpowering than in the original text and dominated the action from beginning to end. Karin Kavli, a leading lady in Swedish post-war theatre and a frequent collaborator with Bergman, played the character not as a mourning widow but as a possessed disciple of Dionysus in an unabashedly entertaining and sexualized production which, despite reservations from critics, became a success with audiences. Dirk Gindt now works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Stockholm University. He is co-editor of Fashion: an Interdisciplinary Reflection (Stockholm: Raster, 2009), and has published numerous articles in journals such as Nordic Theatre Studies, The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, Theatre Survey, and Fashion Studies, as well as chapters in edited volumes. He is the editor-in-chief of Lambda Nordica: Journal for GLBT-Studies, for which he has edited a special issue on masculinities (2008) and a double issue on queer fashion (2009).

Key words

  • Tennessee Williams;
  • Karin Kavli;
  • Swedish post-war theatre;
  • sexuality