Off-Broadway Reading of Black Butterflies

Abingdon Theater, New York City
Directed by Bill Ryall
October 27, 2014

Rose: Jennifer Joan Thompson
Tom: Ben Diskant
Edwina: Lisa Bostnar
Cornelius: Rob Roy
Multiple male roles: Henry Gottfried and Kurt Kelly


Marylou has spent many years exhaustively researching the subject matter: the life of Tennessee Williams’ only sister, Rose. Her writing is poetic and moving, with great heart for Rose’s tragic struggle. Black Butterflies is a theatrically imaginative and dramatically rich play that peels off the layers and exposes the close and tragic relationship of Tennessee Williams and his sister Rose.

– Buzz McLaughlin, author of “The Playwrights Process”

I was immediately drawn in by Marylou DiPietro’s intriguing, poetic play about the enigmatic Rose Williams. Those of us who know and love the plays of Tennessee Williams know about Rose and her importance in her brother’s life. However, not until my involvement with Black Butterflies did I learn that, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t as much the shy, “crippled” Laura Wingfield who was modeled after Rose Williams (that character was actually more representative of young Tom Williams) as it was the beautiful, tragic, Blanche in A Street Car Named Desire.

Black Butterflies tells the true story of Rose for the first time. Rose tells us, in her own voice, what happened in her childhood house and why her mother and father wanted so desperately to “cut out the truth.” Rose’s story is so important because we know aspects of her tragic life from her famous playwright brother’s plays and also because this depiction is so fundamentally distorted. Painstakingly researched, the facts of the real life story provide a guiding through-line for the play. The challenge is to turn those facts into a theatre piece. I believe that Marylou, in her play, has drawn the characters with clear, vivid strokes and has presented their story in a truly dramatic way. At this creative juncture, I believe her choices — the themes of the play, the characters – their objectives, needs, and desires, – the action of the scenes, and how conflicts are addressed and resolved — are ready to be tested and executed so that she may achieve her vision for this play

– Nat Warren-White, actor, director, drama therapist/leadership coach