|'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' on stage in Yuba City|
Director Pat Hill talks about The Acting Company production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". June 9, 2011
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Acting Company journeys into the asylum
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' opens Friday
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'
TIMES: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; through July 3
WHERE: The Acting Company, 815 B St., Yuba City
"It is a powerful show. It is one of my favorite dramas, without a doubt," said Joe Moye, who plays Cheswick in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," opening Friday at The Acting Company in Yuba City.
The 1963 play by Dale Wasserman is adapted from a 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, said director Pat Hill. The show has adult language and situations and carries a suggested R rating.
"It's a story about a young man named Randle P. McMurphy (played by Keith Matthews)," Hill said. "He's a rascal who has faked insanity in order to avoid the prison work farm.
"He's committed to a mental hospital, where he meets his nemesis, Nurse Ratched (played by Lora Weeks). His opposition to her only strengthens the other inmates, and in the process, McMurphy discovers devotion and how far he'll go to help the other inmates to be free of Nurse Ratched's control," Hill said.
"Cuckoo's Nest" is one of several plays being reprised by TAC this season.
"I directed this play at The Acting Company in 2000," Hill said. "Brian Hurd, at the time, played McMurphy; Brian Hurd's son (Brandon Hurd) in our production now is playing Billy (Bibbit). And the part of Billy in our 2000 play was played by the brother of the young man who's playing McMurphy now.
"The only actor from the 2000 production who is returning is Chief Bromdon, played by Chris Collier," Hill said.
The current cast also includes Jake Shafer as Dale Harding; Chuck Smith as Scanlon; Andre Leben as Martini; Jeff Graham as Ruckley; Nathan Brick as Aide Warren; Alex Cesena as Aide Williams; Michael Dobson as Dr. Spivey; Austin Bergstrom as Nurse Flinn; Todd Duda as Aide Turkle; Brooke Maston as Candy Starr; and Courtney Williams as Sandra.
"Kirk Douglas played the lead in the original Broadway production," Hill added.
She said the film version, produced by Michael Douglas, swept the 1975 Academy Awards with all five Oscars going to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest": best director, best picture, best screenplay, best actor and best actress.
"Kesey was not at all happy with the play because it focused more on McMurphy than on the big Indian, Bromden," Hill said. "Kesey's book was not about McMurphy so much as it was Bromden. So they say that Kesey never saw the film because he was so angry about it."
Although many of the asylum's inmates speak infrequently, they are present on stage throughout much of the show, which challenges the actors to silently remain in character for long stretches while awaiting their next cue.
"I gave the guys absolute freedom to be whatever they wanted to be for characters," Hill said. "I told them: 'You come up with what you're comfortable with. Go as far with it as you want to, and if it goes over the top too much, I'll tell you it's too much. But — go for it.'
"So, basically, I gave them the freedom to be as crazy as they wanted to be," she laughed.
"It made them more individual, because if I had tried to assign certain things, they would be trying to emulate what I expected instead of finding their own way," Hill added.
"So by them coming up with their own mannerisms, it was something they could maintain without having to act it," she said.
"There's nothing more exciting than the immediacy of live theater," Hill said. "We hope you'll join us."
CONTACT Susan Benitez 749-4773.