Italian actress Anna Magnani and American playwright Tennessee Williams formed a strong creative bond over their careers, resulting in legendary collaborations on The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending and Sweet Bird of Youth.
Roman Nights, a world premeire play by Franco D'Alessandro, examines their relationship in a production opening at Off-Broadway's new DR2 Theatre Sept. 12. Previews began Sept. 7.
Magnani, an Oscar winner for "The Rose Tattoo," was different from the many sycophants who surronded Williams after his triumphs with A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie — she wasn't afraid to tell him the truth. In many ways, she became the strong, but loving mother figure he craved and throughout the rest of their lives, the two supported one another through addictions, betrayals and the tortures of fame and aging.
D'Alessandro's other plays include The Song of the Crickets, My Little Love Gun and Waiting Station. He workshopped a new play, The Shattering, which featured Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2001.
Franca Barchiesi is Magnani, with Roy Miller as Williams. Barchiesi's credits include Dancing on Her Knees at the Public Theater and A Park in Our House at New York Theatre Workshop. Millier recently appeared in Race at Classic Stage Company. Bick Goss directs. A frequent San Francisco helmer, his credits in the City by the Bay include the award-winning The World Goes Round, Cole and the U.S. regional premiere of Side Show.
Tickets are $25-$40. The new DR2 Theatre is located at 103 East 15th Street. For reservations, call (212) 239-6200.
– By Christine Ehren