Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Drama Workshop Presents One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The Drama Workshop's presentation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an awesome production.  The actors work together flawlessly.

One critic calls One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a Comedy-Drama.  After seeing the play I think it could also be called a Comedy-Tragedy. It reminds me of the traditional two masks that symbolize theater, the happy one and the unhappy one.

The action takes place in a state mental hospital in the Pacific Northwest in 1965. The cast which include patients, visitors, and hospital staff is large, sixteen actors, all of whom are significant in creating the mental hospital atmosphere of the 1960s and in advancing the action.  Joseph Penno, Jr. did an admirable job in directing this strong cohesive presentation.

The Patients:  Chris Bishop as Cheswick
                      Geoffrey Hill as Billy Bibbit
                      Bill Keeton as Dale Harding
                      Ray Lebowski as Martini
                      Ron Samad as Chief  Bromden
                      Kent Smith as Ruckley
                      Jim Waldfogle as Scanlon
                      Steffen Whorton as R. P. McMurphy                 

The Visitors: Julia Hedges as Candy Starr
                      Amy Mirlisena as Sandra

The Staff:     Clint Bramkamp as Dr. Spivey
                     Gretchen Gantner as Nurse Ratched
                     Jody Hart as Nurse Flinn
                     Kevin Noll as Aide Turkle
                     Scott Unes as Aide Williams
                     Doug Tumeo as Aide Warren

The following scenes were staged so Elaine Volker could take photos.  The photos were not taken during a performance.

 Gretchen Gantner as Nurse Ratched  and Steffen Whorton as Randle P. McMurphy, a new patient, pit themselves against one another in a battle to the finish.  They have declared war and neither will accept defeat.

The results of their clashes lead to lots of funny moments in the first act.

McMurphy decides that there should be more entertainment than card playing.

He talks the patients into a basketball game.  Nurse Ratched is not amused.

The silent Indian Chief is a challenge for McMurphy.  Here he learns some surprising things about the chief.

The patients and nurses react to McMurphy's visitor.  Nurse Ratched is not pleased.

Candy and her friend, Sandra,  come for a late night visit by way of an opened window.  This is the high point of McMurphy's hi-jinks and the beginning of the end.

Nurse Ratched decides to take stronger steps.

By the end of the first act it is clear that the antics and retaliations will lead to tragic results.

The second act calls up complicated emotional responses in viewers.  If drama is not your cup of tea, this might not be a play you would like.  But, still,  you would  find plenty to laugh about during the first act. The play contains profanity and strong language which may also offend some people.

However, if you like to see plays that stretch your understanding of life, this is a play you won't want to miss.  The play works on a surface level but it also works on deeper levels.  It brings up questions about how individuals can exist as themselves in conformist-loving society.  Power... who should have it, and how to deal with those who have it... is also brought up.

The play reminded me of a quote from E. E. Cummings that I keep on my refrigerator.

"To be yourself in a world that is doing its best, day and night to make you like everyone else is  to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

As always, I checked sources on the Internet for more information about the play.  The play has won several Tony Awards.   It is annually produced world-wide, generally about 300 productions each year.

The book from which the play was created is recognized as one of the great books of the twentieth century.  It was written by Ken Kesey in 1962.  The book is still critiqued by book clubs and in college classes. seeking the deeper meanings behind the words on the page.  If you are interested in these deeper insights, look for articles on the Internet.

The now classic  play was written by Dale  Wasserman.

Little extras that I liked about the presentation include the actors wandering about on the stage before the play piquing audience curiosity.

As always, the refreshments at intermission reflect the place and period of the play.  For this play, the lobby is the mental hospital's canteen.

Hostesses at this section of the canteen are Marsha Grant and Vickie Greco.  Vickie is the Usher Coordinator and Marsha is an usher.  They are examples of the many hats that members of The Drama Workshop wear.

Below is a list of the crew  who contributed to making this presentation possible.  To make reading easier, click on the photo.

Two of the earlier performances sold out.  There are three more performances this coming weekend, November 21, 22, and 23, 2014.  For tickets, order online at

or call the TDW ticket line at 513-598-8303.

1 comment:

  1. It must be a powerful play! I have just seen the movie...Jack N as I recall:)