When One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is mentioned, many people typically think of the movie version of the story, which won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Director. So you might believe there’s a bit of pressure on the local director and leads for their own interpretations. But any pressure they may feel is what they’ve put on themselves, and has nothing to do with the movie.
“I saw the movie when it first came out and I think I was in college at the time,” says Hade. “I haven’t seen it since and I did that on purpose. I am so influenced by other’s portrayal of characters and knew that it would be impossible for me not to copy what I see. I did read the book to gain more insight into my character and the other characters in the show. So, I’m trying not to be like Louise Fletcher and am trying to make Ratched my own.”
The same goes for Williams, and making sure he’s not playing McMurphy the way that Jack Nicholson did in the movie. “I am not at all familiar with the film, and I prefer it that way. When I take on a role I want the interpretation of the role to be fully my own and without the influence of another actor’s interpretation in my head.”
Director Larche wants everything to go back to the source material, Ken Kesey’s book. “We have had no interest in the movie, but most of us have reread the book. It is the reference we use for critical decisions about character. We were so worried about staying away from stereotypes, but Kesey did that for us. Never has he painted a ‘crazy’ character. Through [the narrator’s] eyes we see the humanity and struggle of people who don’t fit someone’s definition of ‘normal.’ The words of Kesey have been our guide.”
Hade is hopeful that presenting One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest now, decades after it was originally written, will re-examine the way people with mental issues are cared for. “I think that mental health has become a very real concern in recent years. Treatment options have changed but questions remain. What is the best way to treat the mentally ill? Is what we do with medication, institutionalization, and analysis working and meeting the needs of the patients and society at large? Has the current standard of care been evaluated as to its effectiveness? These are important questions to ponder and I hope that this show will prompt discussion and awareness.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will be performed by Carousel Theatre of Indianola for one weekend only, March 14-17, at the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Innovations building (117 E. Salem in Indianola). Tickets are available at the door, but get there early as seating is limited.
Photos courtesy of Carousel Theatre of Indianola and Alex Lindsey