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Genre:

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Picaresque farce

38 (8 w / 30 m)*

Approx. 1 hour 15 minutes

Minimal (Wooden swords, hobby-horses, stuffed sheep, quill pen, parchment paper, small desk, assorted chairs)

As minimally or exaggeratedly 18th-century as desired (vests, tricorn hats, caps, wigs, skirts, vests, doctor's robe for Pangloss, big mustach for Don Fernando, etc.)

 

* Requires only 10-12 actors, most of whom play multiple roles, but can be done with more. Some flexibililty with regard to gender.

Photo courtesy Lumos Studio © 2010
Candide,
ou l'optimisme

English Synopsis

Part I: Europe. Candide, a simple German youth of dubious birth, is exiled from the Château de Thunder-ten-tronckh, where he had developed a taste for the optimism of the celebrated meta- physician, Pangloss (“All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”) and for Cunégonde, the beautiful daughter of the Baron and Baroness. Disconsolate, he wanders through a cruel world ravaged by war, disease, natural disaster, and religious persecution, which claim the lives of all those he holds dear – Cunégonde, her family, the good Anabaptist Jacques and even Pangloss and his mistress, the serving-maid Paquette. In his darkest hour, however, he is restored both to his lost love (not dead!) and to his flagging optimism. After hearing Cunégonde’s sorrowful tale (and slaying her two lovers, the Grand Inquisitor and Don Issachar), he flees with Cunégonde and her faithful old serving woman to the New World.

Part 2: The New World. En route to Buenos Aires, Candide and Cunégonde learn of the trials endured by the old serving woman, actually the daughter of a princess and a pope. When they at last arrive in Argentina, the lust of governor Don Fernando and the pursuit by the Inquisition separate them once again. Forced to flee, Candide surrenders Cunégonde and the old serving woman to Don Fernando and barely escapes inland with his trusty valet Cacambo. By a stroke of fate, they encounter Cunégonde’s brother (not dead!), now a Jesuit colonel, who becomes enraged at the thought of the upstart Candide marrying the well-bred Cunégonde. Alas, Candide is obliged to kill him, after which he and Cacambo must flee once more. After much pain and suffering, they happen upon the utopian realm of El Dorado, where they experience firsthand the benefits of true paradise, including bountiful gold and flying sheep. The absence of the beautiful Cunégonde, however, drives the restless Candide to abandon this blessed realm and return posthaste to Europe, where he hopes the riches he brings back will buy peace and happiness.

Script
(PDF)

Part 3: Europe (again). With a heavy price on his head, Candide fears to go to Buenos Aires to rescue his beloved, now the mistress of the governor. He sends Cacambo in his place, intending to meet up with him, Cunégonde and the old serving woman in Venice. He takes the pessimistic Martin as traveling companion and, after many delays and mishaps, the pair arrive in Venice, where they encounter Paquette (not dead! but reduced to abject poverty and prostitution) and, finally, Cacambo. He bears the sad tidings that Cunégonde is now not only a slave of a prince exiled to Turkey, but, worst of all, has become horribly ugly. Duty-bound to rescue his love, Candide takes ship with his companions only to stumble upon two galley slaves who turn out to be the long-lost philosopher Pangloss (not dead!) and Cunégonde’s brother (not dead, again!). They all fly to the rescue of Cunégonde and spend the remaining money from El Dorado on a little farm, where, after considerable quibbling over the harshness of their fate, the reunited band renounce the overblown optimism of Pangloss and settle down to cultivate their garden, recognizing that work is, indeed, the only remedy for boredom, vice and poverty.

First adapted as a three-act, two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza featuring all seventeen student actors o the 1993 Comédiens Carolingiens, Candide was reduced to a three-scene, one-act "lite" version running just over an hour for the 2003 student troupe, then reconfigured yet again in 2010 for the Alliance Française de Columbia troupe (photos, and version available for download). Currently (spring 2018) slightly revised again for undergradaute production.

 

Photo courtesy Lumos Studio © 2010

Clip excerpt from 2018 production multimedia backdrop