Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales as adapted by Hillary DePiano


About the project

Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales (1634-1636) is best known as the Italian fairy tale collection that inspired the stories of the Brother Grimm as well as Carlo Gozzi’s The Love of Three Oranges and other influential works. Though not commonly known, it’s an important collection historically and contains the earliest known versions of nearly all the most famous fairy tales (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Puss in Boots, Hansel and Gretel, and more). But while these famous tales live on in other versions, the rest of the fifty fairy tales Basile recorded remained in obscurity… until now.

When I first started adapting Carlo Gozzi’s The Love of Three Oranges in 2001, it was the beginning of a massive research and writing project all designed with bringing these fairy tales out of obscurity and modernizing them for modern audiences. The result of all this work is multiple projects in different lengths and styles, each bringing a different part of the collection to life. Though parts of this project are still in various stages of completion, here’s the definitive list of what’s already available and what’s to come.

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The Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales SquareI’ve taken individual tales from Giambattista Basile’s collection and adapted them into standalone one-act plays. Each play is a modernized but otherwise fairly faithful adaptation in a commedia dell’arte-like slapstick comedy style. While any play from the list below can be performed by itself and would make a great option for school drama competitions or classroom use, they can be mixed and matched into a highly customizable full length evening. Read more about performing this mix and match style play.

Adaptations available now:

Adaptations still in progress:

  • The Stone in the Cock’s Head
  • The Woman Who Skinned Herself
  • …and probably more when I get these done!

Names given above are the original tales. Final titles TBA.

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The Fourth Orange and Other Fairy Tales You’ve Never Even Heard Of

Status: Available for perusal now! Email me to request a copy

It’s bedtime bedlam as Truffaldino tries to sell three unruly princesses on something other than their fairy tale favorites! This full length play features abridged versions of four of the individual tale plays listed above within a frame story featuring characters from both The Love of Three Oranges and The Green Bird in a wacky comic journey into all those weird fairy tales you’ve never even heard of.


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The Love of Three Oranges

The Love of Three OrangesStatus: Available now as a full length or one-act play

Carlo Gozzi’s commedia dell’arte play mashes up several of Basile’s tales, including The Three Citrons, into a brand new story. My modern adaptation of this tale is the most popular English scripted version available today and has been on Playscripts’ bestseller list since they acquired the rights. I’ve also adapted Carlo Gozzi’s sequel, The Green Bird, which is based off another classic Italian fairy tale by Giovanni Francesco Straparola.

Read more about The Love of Three Oranges


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Tale of Tales Mash-Up Play (Title TBA)

Status: In progress

A wild fantasy play that takes all fifty tales from Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales and smashes them all together into one brand new story filled with comedy, adventure and romance.

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Fairy Tale Monologue Play (Title TBA)

Status: In progress

In a twist on the oral tradition and the role of the storyteller, this play-in-progress features a cast of colorful characters sharing equally colorful fairy tales long lost to obscurity. A collection of monologues within a frame story that can be performed individually or together as a full length play, this fun and flexible show can feature as many or few performers as you wish.


Posted on

August 29, 2016