New play opens Nov 8


Hakeem Baptiste

The cast of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ rehearse in preparation for next week’s premiere.

Samuel Gonzalez

The Los Medanos College Drama Department will perform “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a play based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel of the same name.

“Cuckoo’s Nest,” is the fictional story of Randle Patrick McMurphy’s court-ordered stay in a mental hospital. McMurphy—who enjoys gambling and general debauchery—finds the ward and everyone in it a bit too stuffy for his tastes. He dares to challenge the authority of The Big Nurse, Mrs. Ratched, and sets off a dangerous struggle for control of the ward.

“It’s a classic. It was also a banned book,” Director Barbara Norris said about “Cuckoos Nest.”

Usually it’s parents who try to keep “Cuckoos Nest,” away from their kids as assigned reading in school, citing profanity, among other things, and accusing it of having a corrupting influence on young people.

Defenders of “Cuckoo’s Nest,” like writer R. Wolf Baldassarro, say it forces people to look at the darker side of society and civilization.

“It’s funny, It’s ribald, it’s poignant, but its also devastating in the end,” Norris said.
Norris recently retired as artistic East408.236.1100director for the Solano Repertory Theatre Company after 23 years on the job.

“This is probably silly but I met my husband around 37 years ago doing this play,” Norris said. “He hasn’t been on stage since and I ended up with a career in theatre.”

Norris said she’s been with LMC’s Drama Department since 2004 and that she chose “Cuckoos Nest,” for LMC’s drama students because they are ripe for a big project.

“Our actors were ready to tackle something that’s just so magnificent. The characters are so rich, as you can see,” Norris said, gesturing toward the still energetic cast during a five minute break from rehearsal. “They all have their mental psychosis.”

Among the “Cuckoo’s Nest” cast at LMC is Tiffanie Diaz Moore, who will be playing The Big Nurse. Moore said she was in “damsel in distress” roles in three of LMC’s past productions.

“I was excited when I was cast as Nurse Ratched becuse she is unlike any character I have ever portrayed, she’s such a strong character. She’s referred to as the beautiful b*tch.” Moore said. “As an actor you love being able to take on challenging roles.

“Cuckoo’s Nest” was adapted into a play in 1963 and was made into a movie in 1975.

“I have not seen the movie because I wanted to have my own vision of the character I was playing,” Moore said.
Clint Sides will be playing the story’s narrator Chief Bromden, an apparently disabled, dark skinned and giant Native American man.

Sides isn’t exactly a giant and although he says he’s in small part Native American, he will be wearing makeup to better resemble the Chief Bromden described in Kesey’s novel.

“The plays a lot better than the movie,” Norris said.“People are going to have a really great time.”

The play will open Nov 8 at 8 p.m. and is estimated to run at just under two hours. The show will also run Nov 9,10,12,16,17, and 19. General admission is $10, admission for students is $7. A matinee show will run Nov 14 at 11 a.m. for $5.