This year’s fall play is the well-known One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Originally a 1962 Ken Kesey novel, then an Academy Award-winning 1975 film, and then a Broadway play, the story is set in a 1960s Oregon mental institution. The hospital is run by a strict nurse named Miss Ratched. Every day is the same for the patients until a new patient comes to the ward named Randle McMurphy. He doesn’t really play by the rules, so conflict develops between him and Nurse Ratched, as she is trying to retain control of the hospital and he tries to shake things up.
Performing Arts Department Chair Mr. Darren Hengst sees this year as the perfect opportunity to produce the play.
“I picked this show based on what play would best serve the guys we have. I have been wanting to do this show for a while because it is very male heavy, it’s got a number of great roles for our students, and I’ve always loved the movie. I’ve always been captivated by the story,” Mr. Hengst said. “This year I thought we had the cast to do it.”
Many students have been a part of productions throughout the years, some since middle school.
“This year we have a really strong class of actors who have been here for a long time, many of them in numerous shows with us, and through all of the theater classes,” Mr. Hengst said. “They have the acting talent itself and then the types of personalities that we need for this show. We need some guys who are comedic, some guys who are dramatic, and I think we have a great mix.”
“Theater has never been about the audience for me—it’s about the people on stage alongside me.”Sebastian Golderer ’24
The students have worked since September and are now preparing for the final weeks of rehearsals.
Sixth Former Sebastian Golderer, who plays McMurphy, approaches the show with some nerves.
“Theater has never been about the audience for me—it’s about the people on stage alongside me,” Golderer said. “I started theater when I was twelve, and ever since then it’s always been like a home to me.”
Golderer also expressed his love for the school’s theater community.
“I love my castmates, and the undisputed highlight of my day is our banter during rehearsals,” Golderer said. “If I’ve touched their hearts to even a fraction of the degree to which they’ve touched mine, I’ll consider my time as a part of this community worth it.”
Mr. Hengst has enjoyed watching the show come together.
“My favorite part of the process so far has been seeing guys make big steps forward in their characters where they make a big discovery, and the group really sees it. We are able to bridge the experiences of the students with the intentions of their characters, and that is really rewarding for me,” Mr. Hengst said.
This 1975 film starring Jack Nicolson and Louise Fletcher has obviously been very successful, but many current students may be unfamiliar with it.
Mr. Hengst said, “For the students who don’t know the story, I think they’ll really like the story itself, but I think they’ll also love seeing their peers portraying these characters in ways that will shed light on the talent of the group.”
Centennial Hall will host performances of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on November 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and November 19 at 2 p.m.