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Yes We Candide Part 2 of 2
The Best of All Possible Worlds! The glorious finale of a modern adaptation of Candide by Voltaire, me and Geoff Pinfield.
Designed to be played by two professional actors, a local community choir and the audience. Supported by the unusual use of everyday technology.
Previously on Yes We Candide:
Candide graduates from the University of New Zealand with a BA in economics. She experiences modern life in vivid detail: unemployment, homelessness, social media acclaim, offshore detention, social media vilification, murderous rage, infotainment, police brutality, asylum in the EU, religious fundamentalism in the Middle East and luxury isolationism in North Korea - where the streets are paved with gold.
If you missed out on the fun, you should catch up here.
Now it’s time for lucky chapter 13.
Chapter 13 The Long March
Candide, Lawrence of Arabia, Mother Russia, Sentient Cows, Martina the Journalist.
After a long and wayward missile flight they land in China. Thanks to Dear Leader’s gift of 100 red suitcases laden with gold, diamonds, precious stones and cryptocurrency, they’re richer than anyone who’s ever lived (outside of North Korea). Candide is excited to reunite with Richard Meros, BA, the chief proponent of the hypothesis that we live in the Best of All Possible Worlds - and her Key Opinion Leader and telling him all about the staggering wealth and opulence of the Hermit Kingdom.
In western China they come across an enormous feed lot inhabited by genetically engineered sentient dairy cows. They talk to one. It’s been terribly abused and warns Candide that “this is the price of your dairy.” Over a glass of milk. Candide is moved to question whether this is the best of all possible worlds for every living being born into it.
Lawrence of Arabia agrees that it wouldn’t be if you factored in animal welfare or the state of the environment. So, it’s best if you don’t. It’s only people that count. And even then, only certain people. It’s basically all about what you measure, but the point is, that for Candide and Lawrence of Arabia and everyone they agree to include in the sample, this is the best of all possible worlds.
They reach Vladivostok. Candide tries to charter a plane but she’s on the No Fly list. Lawrence of Arabia’s not. Candide sends him with most of her riches to bail out the EU and redeem Meros. She’ll charter a military submarine to travel to the land of the free – the USA, and wait for Meros to join her.
The Submarine Commander is Mother Russia - who demands 10, 000 bitcoin to subvert America’s immigration policy by helping Candide infiltrate US borders. When Candide pays it easily she insists on 20,000, then when that’s agreed she extracts 30,000. Candide lets the luggage be loaded without her, and as she’s rowing out, Mother Russia sails away with most of her treasure.
Down, but not out, she pays a people smuggler to transport her in a shipping container along with a bunch of aspiring models to San Francisco. She offers to take a companion – the most unfortunate person who applies. The line of applicants snakes around the corner, and all have stories that would put Meros’ optimism to shame. Candide takes pity on Martina, a heartbroken American journalist who tried to be a serious foreign correspondent in an era of clickbait journalism. She arrived to report from Russia under her own steam. But lack of interest in the astonishing reporting she was doing means that she quickly ran out of steam and cash and is now stranded and at risk of white slavery - like all these aspiring models. She gloomily notes that everyone thinks she’s a socialist, but in fact, she’s a libertarian.
Chapter 14 A Shipping Container
Candide, Martina, audience as people being smuggled.
En route to San Francisco via the South China Sea, with lots of time to talk, Candide and Martina waste their precious oxygen talking about good and evil. They are similar except that Candide lives in hope and Martina has none.
“I scarce knew a city that did not wish the destruction of its neighbour, nor a family that did not desire to exterminate some other...the poor in all parts of the world bear an inveterate hatred to the rich even while they creep and cringe to them, the rich treat the poor like sheep whose wool and flesh they barter, millions of regiments of trained assassins traverse Europe to get their bread by regular depredation and murder, even in those cities which seem to enjoy the blessing of peace and where the arts flourish, the inhabitants are devoured with envy, care and anxiety which are greater plagues than any experienced in a town besieged.”
Through their breathing hole, Candide and Martina see Mother Russia’s submarine get sent to the bottom of the sea by a Chinese drone. Among the flotsam and jetsam is one red suitcase, though no longer laden with gold - it’s still a trendy fashion label! It’s thrown into the shipping container with them.
There, thinks Candide, isn’t there justice in the world? “What about all those Russian sailors who didn’t steal your suitcases but died?” wonders Martina. Candide is optimistic that since she has found a suitcase, she may again find Meros.
As they pass the coast of Japan, Martina offers her low opinion of Japan and the Japanese: “the chief occupation is masturbation, the second embarrassing TV shows and the third, saving rather than spending.”
Candide wonders whether people have “always been liars, cheats, traitors, brigands, weak, flighty, cowardly envious, gluttonous, debauched, fanatical, hypocritical and silly?”
“Do you think,” asked Martina, “that sparrow hawks have always eaten the pigeons they fly across?”
Candide thinks there is a great deal of difference – free will... they keep talking it thru with the help of some verbatim testimony from a fellow passenger – a white slave.
Chapter 15 San Francisco
Candide, Martina, Lady Britannia, audience as start-up founders at a venture capital pitching day.
Candide turns up in San Francisco to learn that Lawrence of Arabia has proceeded with his plan to give the EU all of Candide’s ransom money. The EU is saved. However, there was a small problem due to faulty intelligence: Lawrence gave them the money without checking that Brussels still actually had Meros. Lawrence of Arabia reflects that he made the same mistake countless times in his middle east negotiations. Oh well, he forgives himself. Meros has been ceded to the UK in a Brexit negotiation. He’s now a prisoner of Lady Britannia, who tells Candide that if she wants Meros back, she’ll have to bail the UK out too. Candide thinks this is impossible. Meros is optimistic – especially now she’s in SF. That’s where competition and capital come together to make sweet love. All she has to do is turn her last billion or so into a thousand times as much by angel investing in a Unicorn at the next start-up pitch day. Candide wonders how she’ll recognise the Unicorn, and Meros tells her it’ll be obvious: she just has to pick the most unethical idea pitched by the most privileged white male team of ivy-league alumni.
Candide listens to a bunch of one-line pitches from the audience and eventually settles on ‘Transpoox.io’. It’s a P2P marketplace where users can sell or acquire turds on demand for microbiome-enhancing, non-FDA approved home faecal transplants. Candide immediately takes it to IPO and makes a fortune. She cashes out and wires the money to Lady Britannia. The UK is saved, or rather, back to square one. Meros is free. He’ll fly to NY. They agree to meet under the statue of the Bull of Wall Street where they can pay tribute to the market’s divine ability to get them out of pickles that it got them into in the first place.
Candide immediately receives a push notification from a Populist, Allegedly Stupid (Former?) World Leader inviting her and Martina to visit them in their NY Tower. Candid can’t say no. Martina does. She stays in San Fran to be CMO of Transpoox.io.
Chapter 16 Neo-Ivory Tower, New York
Candide, Populist Allegedly Stupid (Former?) World Leader, the audience as high brow works of art and literature.
Candide goes to visit. PAS(F?)WL’s got an amazing and surprising collection of high- brow art and books. It turns out they’re not an idiot at all. They know all about high culture, and posses the best of it, they just think it’s rubbish for very well-articulated reasons. They intentionally act uncouth due to a genius and incredibly high-brow plan they outline in full Aristotelian terms.
Candide can’t condone their taste or tactics, but recognises its genius - though she notes that the best stomach isn’t one that rejects all food.
She leaves PAS(F?)WL to their musings on Plato’s Republic. She heads off to Wall Street to meet Meros beneath the statue of the Wall Street Bull.
Chapter 17 Wall Street, New York
Candide, Meros, audience as market acolytes.
Incredibly successful, Meros and Candide meet under the Wall Street Bull in order to pay homage to the embodiment of the world that may have caused a lot of pain, but is ultimately the best of all possible versions.
They find themselves in a long line of believers waiting to rub the bull’s balls in the hope that if they do, the world will work for them like it’s meant to.
They’re surprised to find a fellow New Zealander in the queue. Candide and Meros learn that their home, New Zealand is sinking under a massive pile of bullshit. Meros is prepared to accept that in the best of all possible worlds, an entire country, like an inefficient industry may deserve to get wiped off the face of the map. Candide disagrees. She argues that it behooves her and Meros to go home and save what’s important.
Chapter 18 The Flight of the Rich-world Refugees.
Candide, Meros, Notably Eccentric Billionaire, Powerful Older Woman, audience as Rich-world Refugees
As they travel cuddle class on Air New Zealand, they’re with all the Rich-world Refugees who have made their fortune by exploiting people and the planet and are now abandoning ship and heading to New Zealand to outlive the apocalypse they think is coming because they’ve caused it.
Among the passengers is a person Candide assumed to be dead: the Notable Eccentric Billionaire who acquired her virginity, and left her all his worldly possessions in a way that put her in the centre of a global tax avoidance scandal. He unapologetically clarifies: he faked his death and set her up to take the fall for his misdeeds. Like so many titans of industry before him (and pop stars) he’s even richer allegedly dead than he ever was alive.
Candide and Meros are intrigued to discover that New Zealand has been sold to these Rich-world Refugees as some kind of North Korean El Dorado. Meros and Candide know for a fact that it’s actually a giant sloppy cow pat. When they get to the border, they’re greeted by the Powerful Older Woman who had taken Meros as her Young Lover, and whom Candide is fairly sure she murdered. Nope. She came back to life while being dissected for medical research, and eat, prayed and loved her way to NZ, where she now enjoys greeting guests at the airport in the hope of seeing Meros again. Her near-death experience confirmed her belief that the lust to possess another person physically is the only thing that’s truly important in this, the best of all possible worlds. She wants him back in her bed.
Meros’ consumer choice butts up against hers, and they both get quite worked up until Candide intervenes with the perfect solution: thankfully, this best of all possible worlds offers a failsafe way to treat elderly people they don’t wish to have dealings with.... They put her in a rest home and forget about her.
Chapter 19 Graduation Ceremony, 2027
Candide, Meros, audience as future graduates.
As the world’s most successful woman, Candide is now giving the valedictory speech. She notes how rich she is, and how successfully she saved the best of all possible worlds repeatedly by bailing out the unions of nations, bringing peace to the Middle East, and empowering people to send and receive fresh turds in the mail. She tells people never ever to go to North Korea because it’s... awful. She reflects that her success in her professional life more than compensates for the down sides. She’s past her childbearing years, but was probably infertile from the chemical agents in the drone strike and/or dairy milk anyway. The only Notably Eccentric Billionaire she ever loved was just using her to take the fall for global tax evasion, and the environment and standards of animal welfare and human labor are all going to shit but that’s OK because image manipulation technology and the flexibility of words mean that anything can be reframed to look and sound good... as long as no one is looking or listening too closely. And thanks to information overload, they aren’t. So that’s worth celebrating.
She leads the choir in a joyful singalong of Fred Dagg’s ‘we don’t know how lucky we are.’
This text has been lightly edited from its 2016 original for the purposes of clarity and taste.
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