The Love of Three Oranges has long and historical footprints leading up to its run at the PlayGround Theatre, where it opens next week. It started as a fairytale written by Italian courtier, soldier and writer Giambattista Basile in the early 17th Century. Its form changed when playwright Carlo Gozzi, having originally heard it from his grandmother, transcribed it into a play in the 1700s. Gozzi used his (loosely scripted) script as a means to revive the commedia dell'arte, in which actors improvise plays based on sketches, Stephanie Ansin, who directs and adapted the PlayGround's Three Oranges, explains. Her version keeps much of the magical flavor of the original, but takes some liberties as well.
"Gozzi's script had a lot of topical allusions ― political and
literary," she says. "We created a contemporary version that is more
accessible to today's audiences. We also added musical instruments and
music as sources of magic."
Beyond its historical significance, Ansin found the story to be personally relevant, both for her and its audience in Miami. "The
story is about the healing power of finding one's purpose. I worked on
the play at a time when I needed to identify, define, refine, and
believe in my own purpose in life, and doing so gave me energy and
courage," she says. "That, of course, is a valuable message for children
The play centers around Prince Tartaglia, who
has been suffering from a seemingly incurable ailment for ten years. A
pair of strange doctors visits and advises the prince that laughter may
be the right medicine for his condition. At first giggle, though, an
evil witch curses him, forcing him to wander the earth in a feverish
daze in search of three mysterious oranges, which may free him from the
In previous performances, the show has elicited some very excited responses from its young audience members. "Last
season, we experienced a kinder-rave on stage!" Ansin explains. "We
drop a huge net of plastic oranges at the end of the show, and the kids
jumped out of their seats and onto the stage. It was an incredible
explosion of energy! Fortunately, no one got hurt."
The Love of Three Oranges opens Wednesday, January 12th at 10 a.m., and runs through February 6th.
Most weekday performances are at 10 a.m.; most weekend performances at 2
p.m. Tickets cost $20. Call
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305-751-9550 or visit theplaygroundtheatre.com.