On 23 May 1957 Alan Simpson of the Pike Theatre was arrested during a performance of the Tennessee Williams play 'The Rose Tattoo' on the grounds that sections of the play were considered 'objectionable'.
Carolyn Swift and her husband Alan Simpson were co-founders of the Pike Theatre. Carolyn Swift talks to Marian Finucane about the play and the subsequent trial. Carolyn Swift was the producer of 'The Rose Tattoo' and says they became the toast of the town when the play received wonderful reviews.
'The Rose Tattoo' was the opening play of the first ever Dublin International Theatre Festival. However, a few days after the play had opened a police inspector arrived at the Pike Theatre and arrested Alan Simpson on grounds that parts of the play were 'objectionable'. The theatre had to be closed down immediately. While there were complaints about sections of the play, the police would not say which parts exactly were so objectionable. It subsequently transpired that the play was shut down over allegations that a contraceptive had been dropped on the stage at the Pike Theatre. However, Carolyn Swift refutes this claim. Contraceptives at the time were banned by law and they would not have been able to get hold of any.
It was a contraceptive that was not dropped on the stage.
Speaking about the impact that the court case had on the couple and their theatre, Carolyn Swift says,
The case absolutely destroyed us.
An aunt of Alan Simpson's who was supposed to leave her money and property to her nephew, changed her will as a result of the case and left everything to the dogs and cats home.
Despite the controversy, Carolyn Swift describes how they did receive support from the Moore Street traders who gave her free fruit and vegetables for the whole year that the case went on.
The case never went to trial and Alan Simpson was discharged.
This episode of 'Marian Finucane' was broadcast on 23 October 2002.