Candide of California: Modern Adaptation of Voltaire Classic, an SF Fringe Festival Hit
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The last date listed for Candide of Calfornia was Saturday June 4, 2011 / 8:00pm.
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Sure, war is hell, but when author Kurt Vonnegut is telling the tale, it can be hellishly funny, too. Perhaps the greatest American humorist since Twain, Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions) is at his absolutely best in Slaughterhouse-Five, recounting the horrors of World War II with sly wit, sci-fi zaniness and the profound insight of a survivor and veteran. Now the Custom Made Theatre Co. brings this modern literary masterpiece to the stage with a brilliant adaptation by Oscar winner Eric Simonson. An ensemble of 11 actors plays dozens of characters in a production enriched with Vonnegut-inspired animations and an evocative set. Deeply hilarious from the get-go -- and increasingly moving as the story progresses -- Slaughterhouse-Five is one play you won't soon forget. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from jonwelles
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As in past performances, I found the cast uniformly excellent, the lighting and costumes quite wonderful given a (I think) very small budget. The play itself (and I remember the original as being so as well) is somewhat repetitive and over long. This company always puts such heart into their productions it makes for a terrific evening at the theater.
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My companion's observations were probably most salient: "Reminded me of skits we used to do at summer camp." I am not familiar with Voltaire's original work, but this iteration was too long (we were told it would last 90 minutes, including...continued
Quotes & Highlights
“Colorful, exuberant, bizarre, [and] raucous__… __Custom Made has great production values with a three-level, three-sided stage and a very adept cast.” —For All Events
A seven-actor ensemble plays dozens of characters to tell this timeless tale of optimism, lost love, and the search for the best of all possible worlds. Custom Made Artistic Director, Brian Katz, directs and adapts Voltaire’s tale for our time.
In this best of all possible golden states, in this best of all possible worlds, lived a young man named Candide who was sure everything that happened was for the best. After all, his guru, Dr. Pangloss told him so, and he certainly had no reason to doubt it. Candide was surrounded by wealth and power; he lived a charmed life. There was only one small problem: he was a bastard, and he was in love with the Lt. Governor’s daughter.
So begins this epic tale that will take Candide and friends from California to Pakistan to Argentina and to a strange place called El Dorado (where it is chillier than you might think and is in danger of melting away). Along his path, he will battle Evangelicals, Mujahidin, Governors with Exceptional Mustaches and mythical creatures, pausing long enough to talk a little philosophy and look for a meaning in this crazy, upside-down world.
This world premiere adaptation originated in the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival (as Candide or, Optimism, Part I) where it met with great audience acclaim, receiving all 4 and 5 star reviews. Presented with seven actors playing dozens of characters, this version of Candide begins in Northern California but, much like Voltaire’s masterpiece, Candide doesn’t sit still for long. Within the first ten minutes of the play, he is booted out of paradise, finds himself in the army, and then fighting in a foreign land. However, no matter what horrible things happen to him and the people he loves, Candide relies on his mentor’s advice, and tries to find a way to see this as “the best of all possible worlds,” where everything must happen for a reason. All he cares about is finding his way home, so he can be reunited with his beloved.
Of course, the rest of the world has a slightly different, less optimistic outlook, and Candide finds himself encountering the fanatical, the crooked, the lustful, and just about every other deadly sin you can think of during his journey in this modern world. He even stumbles upon a lost utopia, and sees there might be a better way to live, but his heart still yearns to get back to the woman he is sure is waiting for him.
Candide will return to the place he began, but with a new outlook on life. He still searches for answers, but knows that, in the end, all people can do is be content with their little piece of the Earth or, as he says in Voltaire’s immortal words, “we must tend our garden.”
Voltaire’s tome is one of the funniest, most biting, sarcastic, and un-politically correct books of all time. It was written as a response to Leibnitz’s “Optimistic” philosophy which states that since God made the world, and God is perfect, the world must be perfect. Voltaire takes this idea to the extreme, and puts his characters through trials so horrible that they are Monty Python-like hysterical, showing how this philosophy can be extremely dangerous when used to excuse any evil as being good because it is simply natural. Voltaire was horrified by this philosophy, used to keep populations in check by the unenlightened and powerful, and wrote _Candide _as a comic response.
About the Ticket Supplier: Custom Made Theatre Co.
Winner of multiple SF Bay Critic Circle awards, including the Best Overall Play of 2012 (Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby), The Custom Made Theatre Co. is a San Francisco-based not-for-profit theatre dedicated to ensemble-based, socially relevant productions. Custom Made, now in its 16th season, is the managing company of the Gough Street Playhouse, an intimate thrust theatre, where the company presents a six play season, along with numerous free readings, workshops and classes.