Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in External Stimuli, The Fourth Orange, The Green Bird, The Love of Three Oranges | 2 comments

Illustration for Giambattista Basile's "P...

Illustration for Giambattista Basile’s “Pentamerone”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember when I said I was working on a follow-up to The Love of Three Oranges? I lied. I’m working on two.

And, no, the one-act version doesn’t count. I’m talking about two MORE plays.

Back in May of 2013, I was having trouble with hardcore post-natal insomnia so I was looking for something heavy/boring to read before bed in the hopes that it would help me fall asleep. I had been meaning, for ages, to read the original fairy tale that inspired Three Oranges. As you may recall, my play is an adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s commedia dell’arte scenario which is, in turn, an adaptation of the story The Three Citrons from Giambattista Basile’s Il Pentamerone which is a seventeenth-century Italian fairy tale collection. But not just any fairy tale collection! It’s commonly thought to be the first one, it’s the basis for almost everything written by The Brothers Grimm AND it’s the first written appearances of most of the best known fairy tales like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, etc. It’s basically THE fairy tale collection, from a historical standpoint.

God help me, I’m a fairy tale nerd. I know. Why do you think I love Jim Henson’s The Storyteller so much? Anyway, The Three Citrons is part of a frame story for what is essentially a collection of short stories, think 1001 Arabian Nights, so I felt that I really needed to read all of them instead of just the one tale as I’d original planned.

From an insomnia standpoint, this backfired big time because, while the stories are boring in the sense that all really old stories aren’t as engaging for a modern audience, I underestimated how much I LOVE weird old folk and fairy tales and I immediately started getting really into it. I encountered several fairy tales I’d never heard before and was burning to do adaptations of them. I had another of those moments when two seemingly unrelated ideas combined in my head and started to become the idea for the project I have nicknamed TLOTO 2.

It is not a sequel to Three Oranges but it does feature one of the main characters from that story as the narrator in a frame story, telling his way though several short tales. It also has the same spirit as Three Oranges both with the wild fairy tale fantasy elements, the slapstick comedy with modern references, and the fourth wall breaking, social commentary element that everyone likes about the other show. It’s not officially commedia dell’arte but I think you’ll be able to perform it that way pretty easily if that’s what you want.

The stories within the frame story will mostly be adaptations of tales from the Pentamerone though some may be an amalgamation of several jammed together. Old fairy tales are a lot like Simpsons’ episodes in that you often start out with one plot and then things go in a completely different direction so I may take beginnings from some stories with the endings from others and so on. And at least one tale will be mostly new, though heavily inspired by the original tales.

Because Gozzi took his inspiration from Basile’s story, it feels completely in the same spirit for me to mine his work for more tales to put alongside Three Oranges and I’m really excited with how that’s turned out so far. Yes, I have actually written some of this already and it’s not just something I’m kicking around. From a production standpoint, I’m thinking of making it a full length play but making the individual stories stand alone as much as possible in case schools and other groups need them for one-act competitions or classroom study. (See? I’m listening to you guys and learning what you want!) It’s still in the early stages and there is a TON of work yet to be done but I’m really excited about it.

There is just one snafu. Back in this post, I alluded to another Carlo Gozzi play that I had been toying with the idea of adapting as a sequel back in college. If you’re at all familiar with Gozzi’s work, you probably guessed that I was talking about The Green Bird, the play that Gozzi himself wrote as a sequel to Three Oranges. I wanted to study that show a bit before I started my own sort-of sequel to make sure that I wasn’t writing myself into a corner that would prohibit me from doing an adaptation of The Green Bird in the future, if I ever decided that I wanted to. I went into this year’s read of it thinking I would maybe mine the show for a few bits and maybe a character or two and that would be it.

But now I’ve gone and done it. I’ve started my own adaptation of The Green Bird and I’m writing it to not only be a standalone play but a true sequel to Three Oranges. I’m knee-deep in all this research about Gozzi and commedia and this time it’s not even for an honors thesis. It’s for FUN. What the hell is wrong with me, you ask, and I answer that I don’t know!

You know, I’ve been working on this for months in secret but somehow finally telling people about it makes me feel like… damn,. sh- just got real. This is really happening.

I’ll go over why I changed my mind about this show in a future post but it means that the project I was thinking of a TLOTO 2 is going to actually be TLOTO 3 from a continuity standpoint (though God only knows which show I’ll actually finish first). Which means I may be writing a trilogy. Someone stop me.

Though, if you think about it, three plays? I guess that’s the only way this could have gone…

Stupid oranges.

PS: From a blog standpoint, I’ve left the other project’s nickname as TLOTO 2 for now and added a category for The Green Bird.