Arts, Arts Fest 2023

In His Return to BC, Bryce Pinkham Revisits ‘Candide’

When actor and singer Bryce Pinkham, BC ’05, was in first grade, his teacher called his parents into a conference to tell them that they needed to find an outlet for their son’s “reckless creativity.” 

This conference inspired the name of the course Pinkham is currently teaching at Boston College as the visiting Monan professor in theatre arts: Reckless Creativity and The Physical Actor.

The outlet that Pinkham’s parents found for him was theatre performance, a hobby that led him to double major in communication and theatre at BC and continue to pursue a professional career as an actor and director after college, Pinkham said. 

“I just sort of got the bug and took my hobby all the way to BC where I spent a lot of time in … theatre when I was a student,” Pinkham said. “And like the students that I’m directing now, you know, I was there late hours working on different projects and putting all of my creative energy and reckless creativity into those projects. And that’s part of the reason I was thrilled to be asked to come back and work with students, now as a professional actor, and director.”

As a part of his return to campus, Pinkham is revisiting Candide, a play he was involved in when he was a student at BC. But this time, he will play the role of director rather than cast member. 

Candide will run on the Robsham Theater mainstage from April 26 to 29 at 7:30 p.m. and on April 30 at 2 p.m. Based on Voltaire’s novel of the same name, the theatre department’s production of Candide is an adapted operetta and satirical play that has been transformed by Pinkham and his students.

“What they’ll end up performing during Arts Fest will be something that is truly theirs,” Pinkham said. “They’ve taken this, you know, dusty old show and they’ve made it their own, and the production I think, celebrates the performers as much as the show.”

According to Pinkham, most of his cast members are students in his “Reckless Creativity and The Physical Actor” course, which allows him to see the students working to bring the ideas and lessons they’ve learned in class to life in the production.

“[Pinkham] is open to all ideas,” Elisa Falanga, Candide cast member, student of Pinkham, and MCAS ’23, said. “Candide is a really old play and has been put on many different times, but it’s interesting how we’ve been able to put it on in a new way.”

Pinkham said Candide follows the story of students who discover the incompatibility of the real world through their education. In school, the students were taught that everything happens for a reason, but as they face a chaotic world full of war, natural disasters, and senseless pain, this philosophy begins to conflict with their reality. 

“I felt like Candide was a good choice because it’s about these students learning something about the outside world and that felt like in part what my role is this semester,” Pinkham said. “To kind of bring a bit of the profession and the outside world from a knowing place.”

The message of the play is pretty simple, according to Pinkham.

“Happiness is proven to be somewhat elusive throughout human history, and the best chance that Voltaire sees for us to retain happiness is to work with the things that are in front of us, the people that are around us,” Pinkham said. 

The production of the play reflects this message, as Pinkham’s cast of 16 students has the opportunity to showcase what they learned in class in a real-life execution. 

Through putting the play together, these students have had big ideas that have fallen flat on their faces, Pinkham said. But according to Pinkham, despite the difficulty of the play and the challenges it has faced, the cast has found the struggles—and the creative solutions they have been forced to use in response to these struggles—rewarding. 

“The technical aspects of the play are very ambitious,” Diana Marsan, cast member and MCAS ’25, said. “The characters play multiple roles at once, and even physical objects like water or a sheep. It’s a fun challenge.”

Marsan, who has participated in three plays at BC, joined Candide to learn more about comedic theatre, she said. Marsan said as a student of Pinkham, she has come to appreciate the way that Pinkham makes people laugh. 

“Bryce’s goal is to make joyful theatre,” Marsan said. “He makes people laugh in the rehearsal room and there are moments where everybody bursts out laughing.”

Meanwhile, Falanga said that preparing for the play has challenged her and made her grow as a singer. 

“This role is high soprano so it’s definitely been a challenge,” Falanga said. “I love engaging in new ways of singing so that’s been a difficult but rewarding opportunity because I’ve been able to grow as a singer.”

The last line of the play encapsulates the mentality that Pinkham’s students have adopted throughout the production of Candide, according to Pinkham. 

“‘We’re neither pure nor wise nor good, we’ll do the best we know,’” Pinkham quoted from Candide.

April 25, 2023