SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 2017 36 In Los Angeles, located in the state of California (a mostly-liberal-but-still-conservative-swathed coastal region of the United States) lived a young woman endowed with somewhat gentle manners. As an educated young person, she believed herself quite well-read. Tolstoy, Faulkner, Joyce, Woolf, Calvino, Ferrante, Plato, Marquez, Cather, Gibran, Mahfouz…all graced her shelves (and she’d even read most of them.) She approached all things in life very seriously. Too seriously some might say. So when an artistic director of a Shakespeare festival in a more northern and even more liberal region of this same great state of California approached her about directing and devising an adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide, she thought, “Of course I have read Candide!…haven’t I?” But alas, this serious young woman, this product of the best universities of this great, mostly-liberal state of California, discovered this was not so. She had only heard songs from Leonard Bernstein’s musical adaptation of the same title and knew it was some sort of 18th Century satire about something. So she did what any self-respecting artist in the 21st Century does and bought a digital copy and read it on a plane. And she laughed. And then she felt depressed. And then she laughed. And then she got angry. And then she was shocked. And then she was disgusted. And then she laughed. And then she got pensive… And then…she got to work. François-Marie Arouet, who wrote under the name Voltaire, was born near Paris in 1694. His early career as a satirist led to imprisonment in the Bastille. When in 1726 a conflict with a nobleman led to a second arrest, Voltaire begged for exile to England instead of indefinite imprisonment. Voltaire came to appreciate England, admiring its constitutional monarchy and the liberty of speech and the press. Prompted by his love for such freedoms, on returning to France he continued to write critically of French religious society and the French nobility. After residences in Prussia and Switzerland, he returned to France in 1758, where he continued to write philosophical and political works until he died in 1778. He is an icon of French national identity, known for his disdain for religious authoritarian tyranny and the restrictions of civic freedom that Church and Monarchy imposed during the Enlightenment. Sparkling with wit and easily accessible, Voltaire’s Candide, or Optimism was first published in 1759. Candide takes readers on a comic journey from Westphalia to Constantinople through much of Europe and South America, including “Eldorado.” In the process Voltaire critiques and attacks the absurdity of optimistic thinkers like Alexander Pope and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. While Alexander Pope declared that “whatever is, is right” and Leibniz adamantly proposed (as Candide’s tutor Pangloss does) that this world is “the best of all possible worlds,” Candide tells of savage wars, cruelty in the name of religion, and suffering produced by natural disasters; it recalls to its readers the horrors of the Seven Years War and of the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 with its loss of thirty thousand lives. In relating in elegant, humorous prose the naïve blunderings of a young man in his search for the woman of his dreams, Candide cheerfully exposes the brutality of life and the senseless traumas experienced by all sections of society. How shall we live in this world? “We must cultivate our garden.” Director’s Notes Kate Jopson Dramaturg’s Notes brandon KUTIVAN