Jour 203-BDP

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Cuckoo Makes its Final Flight

In front of a cold gray watchtower a Native American man eerily rocks back and forth in his chair, not missing a beat. The scene and the man appear disconnected, as is the audience filing into Spanos Theatre. Yet as the lights dim, the audience is engrossed in the disturbed world of Pineridge Mental Hospital. Sunday marked the closing performance of Cal Poly Theatre Art Department’s rendition of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“I chose this play because it is pertinent to the current presidential administration… hopefully the audience will draw some parallels.” stated director Al Schnupp. The political and social implications are of the play are dramatic, dealing with themes such as sexuality and perception versus reality. The audience takes its cue in reacting to the increasingly “heavy” content of the play. As the performance progressed, light laughter was replaced with solemn reverence.

A pivotal strangling scene between the protagonist McMurphy and villain Nurse Ratched, leaves audience members stunned and slightly delayed in offering applause. “The strangling scene is one I would like to redo and make more climatic,” stated director Schupp. But the meaning is not lost on the audience.

Cal Poly student Susan Hirsch believes “McMurphy’s energy is a great contrast to Nurse Ratched’s mechanical-ness.” Her theatre history class discussed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in class the following day. Professor Josh Machamer requires all his students to see the production and write a three page critique. “The play is not capturing a frozen moment in time, it is a reflection and lesson of society today,” stated Machamer.

As a whole students admire the set design and student actor’s ability to portray mentally unstable patients. Scene transitions puzzled Cal Poly second year Sara Wright, “I didn’t get the narrative monologues of Chief Bromden between scenes, it felt forced.” Words in print and on stage warrant very different reactions. “Some things just make more sense in the book,” stated graduating senior Brittny Peloquin.

Originally written in 1962 by Ken Kesey, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest still has the power to captivate audiences and make them think.” In the winter Cal Poly will put on Bertolt Brecht’s production of “Roundheads and Pointed Heads.” Auditions will take place November 27 and 28th. For questions contact Josh Machamer at


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