Tonight is opening night of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! Check out Michael Salgarolo’s directors note:
Ken Kesey was a creative writing fellow at Stanford University when he took a night job as an aide in a San Francisco mental hospital. His experiences in the hospital, as well as his participation in early medical experiments with psychedelic drugs inspired one of the great American novels of the twentieth century: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Kesey wrote his novel in 1962, at a turning point for the American counterculture. He took the disillusionment of the beat generation and mixed it with the ideas of “perception” that would dominate the drug and hippie culture of the late sixties. He filled his imaginary hospital ward with the outcasts of Biff Loman’s generation: men rejected by society for their inability to realize the American Dream. These men, like the patients Kesey saw in San Francisco, were less mentally ill than they were victims of a corrupt society which treated men like machines.
Kesey’s work presents some critical problems for the modern audience. Both the original novel and Dale Wasserman’s 1963 stage adaptation present the story of the men’s self-realizations as a distinctly male process of reclaiming ‘manhood’ from the “ball-cutting” Nurse Ratched. We hope to downplay the play’s misogynist overtones by turning Dr. Spivey into a young, intelligent female doctor, focusing the show’s antagonism on Nurse Ratched rather than womanhood in general. Kesey’s buffoon-like African-American ‘aide’ characters, as well as the half-Indian Chief Bromden will be played with no intentional reference made to the ethnic stereotypes found in the source text.
If nothing else, I hope this show keeps you entertained for a solid two hours. I also hope it leaves you with some food for thought, and inspires you to ask questions about an individual’s relationship with society, with God, and with themselves. Most importantly, I hope you appreciate the amount of time this devoted group of actors and production crew members took out of their busy college schedules to reproduce this classic American story.
Tune in, turn on, drop out, and enjoy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
– Michael Salgarolo, Director