One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Produced by Special Arrangement with Origin Australia
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
By Dale Wasserman
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey
Directed by Anthony Brown
In 1963 Oregon, Randle Patrick McMurphy, a criminal who has been sentenced to a short prison term, decides to have himself declared insane so he will be transferred to a mental institution, where he expects to serve the rest of his term free of prison labour and in (comparative) comfort and luxury.
No one under the age of 18 will be cast without the express permission of a parent. All roles are adults, but some could potentially be played by an older teen. Age ranges are estimates and may be adjusted.
CHIEF BROMDEN - Huge, bull-muscled Indian, at least six foot, although he carries himself like a small man. The narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Chief Bromden is the son of the chief of the Columbia Indians and a white woman. He suffers from paranoia and hallucinations, has received multiple electroshock treatments, and has been in the hospital for ten years, longer than any other patient in the ward. Bromden sees modern society as a huge, oppressive conglomeration that he calls the Combine and the hospital as a place meant to fix people who do not conform. Bromden chronicles the story of the mental ward while developing his perceptual abilities and regaining a sense of himself as an individual.
Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he pretends to be deaf and mute in order to dodge the forces of the “Combine,” a matrix that hums behind the walls and the floors that is set to deprive individuals of their freedom. “It wasn’t me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all,” he realizes eventually.
McMurphy rehabilitates him, and, at the end, both of them actively rebel against the hospital’s repressive staff. After Nurse Ratched has McMurphy lobotomized, Chief kills him—actually, euthanizes him— while he is sleeping, and then escapes from the hospital.
AIDE WARREN - Wears starched and spotless white uniform. Warren and Williams are like a lope in tandem or abreast like a team of splendid lithe panthers. Hospital aides. Warren, Washington, and Williams are Nurse Ratched’s daytime aides; Geever is the nighttime aide. Nurse Ratched hired them because they are filled with hatred and will submit to her wishes completely.
NURSE RATCHED - A handsome woman, perhaps in her 40’s (hard to tell), there is an odd perfection about her: face smooth as flesh colored enamel, skin a blend of white and cream set off by baby-blue eyes. A brilliant warm smile which appears often. Her body is ripe and womanly, evident even under the starched white uniform. Moves silently as though she were on wheels. The head of the hospital ward. Nurse Ratched, the novel’s antagonist, is a middle-aged former army nurse. She rules her ward with an iron hand and masks her humanity and femininity behind a stiff, patronizing facade. She selects her staff for their submissiveness, and she weakens her patients through a psychologically manipulative program designed to destroy their self-esteem. Ratched’s emasculating, mechanical ways slowly drain all traces of humanity from her patients.
She is a former Army nurse, also known as “Big Nurse,” and has a machine-like demeanor, even though, sometimes, her façade crumbles and she shows her ugly side.
She is the de facto ruler of the ward and maintains order by exercising absolute authority over staff and patients. She can act both like an “angel of mercy” and as a torturer, as she knows all of her patients’ weak spots, to the point that she mainly uses shame and guilt to exert her power.
Her large breasts, somehow, are seen as an undermining force in her pursuit of exerting absolute authority and give her the appearance of a twisted mother figure. Given that McMurphy represents the epitome of raw maleness, he acts as an opposing force to Nurse Ratched, who feels like she needs to control him. McMurphy compares Nurse Ratched’s techniques with the “brainwashing” antics used by the communists during the Korean War.
NURSE FLINN - A vapid girl with apprehensive eyes, who wears a gold cross at her throat.
DALE HARDING - Late 30’s, handsome, effete. Rolls his eyes a loft. An acerbic, college-educated patient and president of the Patients’ Council. Harding helps McMurphy understand the realities of the hospital. Although he is married, Harding is a homosexual. He has difficulty dealing with the overwhelming social prejudice against homosexuals, so he hides in the hospital voluntarily. Harding’s development and the reemergence of his individual self-signal the success of McMurphy’s battle against Ratched, especially when Harding checks himself out of the ward and paves the way for the other cured patients to leave.
An “acute” patient, he is a college-educated man who committed himself voluntarily to the ward. He is quite effeminate and has been psychologically castrated both by Nurse Ratched and his wife.
ELLIS - A patient who was once an Acute. Ellis’s excessive electroshock therapy transformed him into a Chronic. In the daytime, he is nailed to the wall. He frequently urinates on himself. A bald head needed or actor who is prepared to go bald. No actual lines but ad lib in some places.
RUCKLEY - A Chronic patient. Ruckly, like Ellis, was once an Acute, but was transformed into a Chronic due to a botched lobotomy.
BILLY BIBBIT - Halts apprehensively. In age, almost 30 but appears more like a boy. Stutters. This is a very important role in that whoever ends up playing this – has to be prepared to cry on que, very powerful in emotion – heart wrenching. A shy patient. Billy has a bad stutter and seems much younger than his thirty-one years. Billy Bibbit is dominated by his mother, one of Nurse Ratched’s close friends. Billy is voluntarily in the hospital, as he is afraid of the outside world.
Billy Bibbit is a 31-year-old man with a domineering mother, to the extent that, despite his adult age, he is still a virgin. A voluntarily committed acute, Bibbit manages to lose his virginity to the prostitute Candy Starr (thanks to McMurphy's arrangement). Once caught by nurse Ratched, though, he is shamed by her, and, while waiting in the doctor’s office, he dies by slitting his throat. He has marks on his wrists, denoting previous suicide attempts.
SCANLON - A man nearly bald in his 50’s, stalks when he walks. The only Acute besides McMurphy who was involuntarily committed to the hospital. Scanlon has fantasies of blowing things up.
CHESWICK - Short. Chubby, crew-cut; his manner alternately truculent and cringing. Again, this character needs to cry on que when he gets over stressed, which is often. The first patient to support McMurphy’s rebellion against Nurse Ratched’s power. Cheswick, a man of much talk and little action, drowns in the pool—possibly a suicide—after McMurphy does not support Cheswick when Cheswick takes a stand against Nurse Ratched. Cheswick’s death is significant in that it awakens McMurphy to the extent of his influence and the mistake of his decision to conform.
Cheswick is the first patient who follows McMurphy’s rebellious stance. However, once McMurphy becomes subdued, Cheswick drowns himself when he is denied his cigarettes.
MARTINI - A little Italian. Bounds when walking. Eager, bright eyed. Another hospital patient. Martini lives in a world of delusional hallucinations, but McMurphy includes him in the board and card games with the other patients.
FREDERICKS - Epileptic patients. Sefelt hates to take his medications because they make his teeth fall out, so he gives them to Frederickson, who likes to take Sefelt’s dose in addition to his own. Although Sefelt and Frederickson require more medical care than some of the other nonmedicated patients, they still do not receive much care or attention by the staff, who are much more concerned with making the disorderly patients orderly. No actual lines but ad lib in some places.
HERMAN SEFELT - Epileptic patients. Sefelt hates to take his medications because they make his teeth fall out, so he gives them to Frederickson, who likes to take Sefelt’s dose in addition to his own. Although Sefelt and Frederickson require more medical care than some of the other nonmedicated patients, they still do not receive much care or attention by the staff, who are much more concerned with making the disorderly patients orderly. No actual lines but ad lib in some places.
RANDLE P. McMURPHY - Shaggy, with long sideburns. A devilish grin and a face battered and scarred across nose and cheekbone. He wears a black motorcyclists’ cap, an ancient brown leather jacket and jeans faded to almost to whiteness. On his feet lumberman’s boots with a ring of steel in the heels. A wide-open, extroverted air which registers almost shockingly in this environment. He hooks his thumbs in his belt. His laugh rings big and free. The novel’s protagonist. Randle McMurphy is a big, redheaded gambler, a con man, and a backroom boxer. His body is heavily scarred and tattooed, and he has a fresh scar across the bridge of his nose. He was sentenced to six months at a prison work farm, and when he was diagnosed as a psychopath—for “too much fighting and fucking”—he did not protest because he thought the hospital would be more comfortable than the work farm. McMurphy serves as the unlikely Christ figure in the novel—the dominant force challenging the establishment and the ultimate savior of the victimized patients.
A Korean-War hero, Randle Patrick McMurphy is the protagonist of the novel, and he got himself admitted to the hospital to avoid forced labor. He came from Pendelton Prison Farm, where he somehow managed to get diagnosed as psychotic, despite the fact that he was actually sane. A rebellious, anti-academic manual laborer who engaged in gambling, off-kilter sexual remarks and other antics, he becomes the de facto leader of the patients. He teaches them to question the arbitrary and repressive teachings of Nurse Ratched. He comes to the hospital believing that his stint in the psych ward would be more comfortable than a sentence at the Pendleton Work Farm.
However, despite his self-determination, the hospital actually gains control over him. His fate is foreshadowed by what happens to Maxwell Taber, a former hot-headed patient who was subjected to electroshock treatment, which left him unable to think.
Nurse Ratched blames the death of one of the inmates on him, and, as a consequence, he attacks her. This results into his getting a lobotomy, and eventually he is killed in his sleep by Chief Bromden. He and Bromden have opposing story arcs: Bromden starts out subdued and apparently stupid, only to then come to his senses; McMurphy, on the other hand, is assertive and smart at the beginning of the novel but ends up lobotomized and euthanized.
DR. SPIVEY - Moves fast. A resident psychiatrist, a pipe-smoking, glasses-fumbling, harassed fellow of no great force. A mild-mannered doctor who may be addicted to opiates. Nurse Ratched chose Doctor Spivey as the doctor for her ward because he is as easily cowed and dominated as the patients. With McMurphy’s arrival, he, like the patients, begins to assert himself. He often supports McMurphy’s unusual plans for the ward, such as holding a carnival.
He is a morphine addict, chosen by Nurse Ratched because he is weak and vulnerable to her exploitations. McMurphy’s behavior eventually encourages him to assert himself against Nurse Ratched.
AIDE TURKLE - Aging, Likes to sing mournfully. Keeps a bottle of liquor in his back pocket. Hospital aides. Warren, Washington, and Williams are Nurse Ratched’s daytime aides; Geever is the nighttime aide. Nurse Ratched hired them because they are filled with hatred and will submit to her wishes completely. A small role.
Mr. Turkle is fond of marijuana. Thanks to McMurphy’s bribes, he helps the patients arrange their debaucherously party.
CANDY STARR - A beautiful, carefree prostitute from Portland. Candy Starr accompanies McMurphy and the other patients on the fishing trip, and then comes to the ward for a late-night party that McMurphy arranges.
Described as having “a heart of gold.” She is both physically attractive and quite passive and helps Bibbit lose his virginity. She goes to the debaucherous party with her sister, who is older and less attractive than her.
NURSE NAKAMURA - One of the nurses in the psychiatric ward, she disagrees with Nurse Ratched’s methods, and is the only female character who is neither a "whore" nor a “ball cutter.”
No actual lines but ad lib in some places.
TECHNICIAN - In Act 2 only. Very small role.
SANDRA - In Act 2 only. Big, earthy wench.
AIDE MILLER - Hospital aides. Warren, Washington, and Williams are Nurse Ratched’s daytime aides; Geever is the nighttime aide. Nurse Ratched hired them because they are filled with hatred and will submit to her wishes completely. No actual lines but ad lib in some places.
7th, 14th & 21st August at 2pm & 7pm
with a possibility of adding extra performances on Friday 6th & 13th at 7pm
Staged at John Lees Centre,15 Evan Street, Penrith.
Sunday, 25th April from 10am or Tuesday, 27th April from 6:30pm
at John Lees Centre, Level 1, 15 Evan Street, Penrith
(by appointment only).
Please note: All auditions will be held in an open space. Everyone will see your audition, you will see theirs.
We may possibly ask to run scenes as a cold read in groups afterwards.
Be aware, we are only auditioning those people who are up to date financial members or past financial members of Ruby Productions. We are not advertising auditions outside the theatre group.
Applicants should note that reading the play prior to their audition would be highly advantageous.
An audition piece will be given to every auditionee.
It is expected that the auditionee will learn the lines of the audition piece and
present it on an agreed date with the director.
We are looking for high standard of performance for each of the roles.
A rehearsal schedule is prepared and will be given on first response to any enquiries made by an auditionee.
It is a clever idea to come to auditions in character, dress/shoes/hair,
anything that you feel is appropriate for the role you are seeking.
An audition piece will be sent out from Anthony once an audition time slot has been sorted.
For further information or to book an audition time,