By Gail Siegel, WSU Performing Arts

cuckooPULLMAN, Wash. – Lobotomies and electroshock treatments are weaponized in Dale Wasserman’s play, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which will run at Washington State University’s Jones Theatre April 3, 4, 10 and 11. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. nightly with 2 p.m. matinees April 4 and 11.

In the play, based on Ken Kesey’s novel, the roguish R. P. McMurphy contrives to serve a short sentence in an airy Oregon psychiatric institution instead of prison. He soon realizes his miscalculation, however, when he clashes with the fierce Nurse Ratched in an escalating contest of wills with life-altering consequences.

The production contains strong language and mild adult themes.

“‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is undoubtedly an American classic,” said Benjamin Gonzales, the production’s director. “It’s about how we as people put labels on those who need help, or are simply not like us, and send them into exile for not being ‘normal.’”

cuckoo-450Reserved seating costs $10 for adults and $8 for seniors (60+), students and youth. Groups of eight or more are eligible for a discount.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at TicketsWest outlets, including online at http://www.ticketswest.com/events/wsu-performing-arts/10391/, by phone at 800-325-SEAT (7328), and in person at the Beasley Coliseum ticket office (10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays but closed March 16-20 for WSU’s spring break). Same-day tickets will be available at the Daggy Hall box office beginning two hours before each performance.

“The story is about a group of men at a psychiatric institution in Oregon who, with the assistance of new patient R.P. McMurphy, challenge the powers that control the institution,” said Gonzales. “The script is definitely layered with semiotic imagery, complex characters and insight that I find is a valuable message to our community.”

The story of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has enjoyed several prominent iterations. The book was published in 1962. Wasserman’s stage play premiered on Broadway in 1963, its revival won a Tony Award in 2001 and Milos Forman’s movie based on the novel was released in 1975.

“The book had a hand in demonstrating to the public the ways in which we, as a society, treat those we deem psychotic,” said Gonzales. “With its help, certain archaic practices, such as lobotomies, became scrutinized to the point of being wholly eliminated from standard practice.”

The play remains faithful to the spirit of the novel and has been praised as “scarifying and powerful” by the New York Times and “funny, touching and exciting” by the New York Daily News.

“I decided to direct this particular play for two reasons,” said Gonzales. “First, the students in the student group STAGE really wanted to sink their teeth into it. Second, it is a brilliant story that I’ve wanted to tell for a long time.

“It isn’t simple, either,” he said. “Aside from the technical requirements … I wanted to not paint a picture that was too ‘easy.’ I wanted there to be more gray area so the audience wouldn’t be forced to pick the side I want them to pick, but to make a decision.”

Presented by WSU Performing Arts (http://performingarts.wsu.edu/), the stage production features James Campbell as McMurphy and Clarice Cohn as Nurse Ratched.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., and with support from the WSU Office of Student Affairs and the Hilltop hotel and restaurant.

Full cast:
R. P. McMURPHY………………………James Campbell
NURSE RATCHED………………………Clarice Cohn
BILLY BIBBIT…………………..…………Kevin Herriman
DALE HARDING…………………………Jared Chastain
FRANK SCANLON…………………….Bryce Park
CHARLES CHESWICK………………Caleb Pletcher
ANTHONY MARTINI…………………Jorge Barbosa-Rodríguez
RUCKLY……………………………………Christopher Long
DR. SPIVEY……………………………….Afiq Danial Bin Hisham
NURSE FLINN……………………………Chelsea Feiock
AIDE WARREN………………………….Evan Weber
AIDE WILLIAMS………………………..Gerrit Grande
AIDE TURKEL…………………………….Spencer Knudson
CANDY STARR……………………………Taylor Coty
SANDY………………………………………Christina Phillips
CHIEF BROMDEN………………………Benjamin Gonzales

 

Contact:
Gail Siegel, WSU Performing Arts, 509-335-8522, gsiegel@wsu.edu