Saturday, May 2, 2020

74. CANDIDE (1). From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Carolyn Gordon.
"In Lieu of Reviews"

For background on how this previously unpublished series—introducing all mainstream New York shows between 1970 and 1975—came to be and its relationship to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the earlier entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

CANDIDE (1) [Comedy/Audience Participation/France/Youth/Period] AD: Organic Theatre Company; SC: Voltaire’s novel, Candide; D: Stuart Gordon; P: New York Shakespeare Festival; T: Public Theater/South Hall Theater (OB); 4/14/71-4/25/71 (14)

There were two attempts, one minor and the other major, to adapt Voltaire’s satirical novel, first published in 1759. The first was an original adaptation, in contrast to the second, a musical revival. It was created as an ensemble piece by the Organic Theatre Company of Chicago. Their approach, like similar efforts of the day following the lead of Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre, was to develop the work improvisationally before setting the results in permanent form. Their version had some humor but was severely lacking in focus and insight, with actors who seemed self-indulgent and undisciplined.

The company chose to do the piece in clown-like costumes and makeup, vaguely suggestive of commedia dell’arte. They were railed at by the critics, Edith Oliver, for example, chastising them for a “sophomoric romp” that denigrated the original for meaningless, self-serving purposes. The performances were “amateurish” and without subtlety, and the awkward stabs at audience participation—including sending balloons over the auditorium and passing out popcorn—contributed to the general air of malaise.

Previous entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond
The Burnt Flower Bed
Button, Button
Buy Bonds, Buster

The Cage