Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coming to grips with the misogyny in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a sobering process. It seems like every where we turn in the story, we find some woman is at the heart of the problem. Ratched, Billy's Mom, the chief's mother, Harding's wife, on and on. So, as theatre artists, how do humanize this?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Delicious supporting cast... but trying to mix it up by throwing in every single ingredient doesn't necessarily leave the best taste.

Avi Fogel said...

What a wonderful escape to the theater One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest was, the acting was brilliant and the set design along with the soundtrack really made this evening an unforgettable one. Avi Fogel ~

Anonymous said...

women can definitely be the root to some evil but it goes the same way for men. in reference to the play, McMurphy makes several sexual references to Nurse Ratched, and in many ways she maintains that same authoritative role but i agree that woman are definitely personified as controlling dominating figures in this play

Anonymous said...

Women are definitly largely depicted as the ones in control in the play, but there is also the small influence of the other nurse. Who is sexually harrassed over the course of the entire play. So I think women can be the ones in control if they choose to be.

Jung Ah Cho said...

-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-
This performance was telling us that there were no difference between normal people and mentally deranged people. Maybe there were no mentally deranged people in our society. It was so hard to find out who was normal and who was not. Maybe the society and we made them to looked like mentally ill. Maybe there were no ways to figure it out. Maybe we treated with discrimination the people that we called psychopath only by certain form and justification.

Anonymous said...

women are in charge at home for the most part, they raise the kids and women are the necks of mens heads.a women can always turn a mans neck to look any direction she may please.regarding the story to show how powerful they are,all the woman in the play were responseble for putting. Billy, Harding and the Chief in the hospital. so when billy talks about his mom and when the others talk about the ladys in thier lifes MAYBE THERE BLAMMING THEM FOR PUTTING THEM IN THERE???

Anonymous said...

women were depicted as controlling in this play but not all of them. Nurse Flinn was depicted as the opposite. She was not controlling and she seemed sweet. She was also very easy to pick on because of this. Because of this some woman seem to be driven to act in a cold and controlling matter simply so that they are not the ones being picked on or harassed, but the ones in charge and feared. It's Nurse Ratched's survival technique in many ways. Unfortunately this can end up being very damaging to others, especially all of her patients who already have issues with controlling and cruel women.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the women are the "problem" maybe they are just the same ones. The men seem to want disorder and to act without thinking it through. When the women want order and to have some control over their surroundings. So does this make them the "heart of the problem" or just the ones that see the flaws in us all.

Anonymous said...

By humanize, I'm guessing that you mean how to make the misogynist behavior believable. Consider that the story was written in a period of time when misogynist behavior was more acceptable in general. An actor must not value judge the character they are portraying and understand why that character justifies their actions.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree that in both men and women there are the strong willed and the weaker ones. Although most of the men are portrayed as weaker for being in the ward; you have to take a look at Mc Murphy. He is the strong individual who pushes everyone to be better and stronger and to believe in ones self. Sure there are other women in the play that are the strong type but the fact that the little younger nurse is just coming and going and just doing her job proves that there are weaker individuals (women) in life as well. And usually in plays like this the main conflict is always between a strong male and female figure butting heads.

Anonymous said...

The SF Playhouse does a phenomenal job in the little space they have to create a set and set up a live story in front of our eyes. The stage is shallow so the actors are right in front of you. They are people living their lives as we see it, not 50 feet below us where we can not see their facial expressions and the beats which they learn something new and their thoughts change can almost be felt.
The set is designed to be the common room that everyone in the psych ward stays in during the day where they have activities and group therapy. This is where all of the patients talk and we get to know everything the same way McMurphy does, by getting in trouble and learning what not to do. It is a direct imitation of a small community, even though the patients dont think straight, even they know that rules make everyone conform whether we want to or not and even though they keep everyone in good boundaries, it is also the main reason for depression, so that being said, how strict should we always be? and isn't it vital to be free sometimes as well?

Anonymous said...

This play definitely makes women the root of the mens problems because they are ordered to be what the mothers or wives want them to be and they don't seem to be capable of being that person or they plainly just don't want to. I think that whole idea is completely true, but not only about women as it is portrayed in this play. The idea that control makes a society completely plain yet severely competitive is 100 percent true. Rules make us all get along and have the same ideals for what a dream lifestyle would be like and so we all work for a common reason, yet it also makes us competitive in getting where we want to be as soon as possible and nobody enjoys the ride anymore. Rules do that to people and the people who know better may become depressed because they are being opressed. So who in turn are the smart ones and which are the stupid? All i really know is that LIFE is survival of the fittest, which path you choose to take along the way is up to you.

Sasanka Velicherla said...

All aspects of the play right from characterisation, the actors, the set design, sound design,lights, the effects and the direction were very impressive. Most importantly the performance of all actors was just woth accolades. Really loved the play. Thanx for this wonderful performance.It was phenomenal

Anonymous said...

Watching the Cuckoos nest at the SF Playhouse was amazing. Not only was the performances great but the overall stage and sound really enriched the show. Every inch of the space is taken advantage. I was very impressed and enjoined details like the transition of scenes, I like how the Chief would go into a monologue and the rest of the cast would slowly move into their next position, this was very clever and gave a nice illusion that we were spacing out of the surroundings along with the Chief. Great Job everyone look forward to watching other productions.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting comment - during the performance, I did not pick up on that connection, but as you state it now it seems clear. I would say that you humanize it by being human! In every person's life, there is a problem set off by their favoring gender. I loved the way that you all brought that to the stage. In fact, I found your performances so well done that I almost cried at the end and when Nurse Ratched scolded Billy for sleeping with Candy, I hated her so much that I wanted to scream "spit on her!! spit on her!! It's her fault Billy killed himself!!" The mark of a true great performance of a villain is how much someone in the audience is mad at you!
It was a pleasure being in your audience.

Anonymous said...

Cuckoos nest
It was a inredible play, i loved how the set was made, and how it was managaged, the lights and the sounds to, and such as the place it is very confortable. i'd love to go again.

Natalia Carorina said...

The production of the play was amazing. I especially love all the technical aspect like props, lighting, set and the sound. It was very well put together. I also really enjoyed the part when the "Chief" surrounding was brought into a slow motion. I like it that when he talk the light would be dim and it fells like it going really slowly.

Anonymous said...

Very fun play to attend, I do agree that nurse Ratched is a controlling woman set on manipulating her patients.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point. During the play, I did not make the connection that women were the root of all of these men's evils, but not that you mention it, it does make sense. I think that we can humanize this by simply being human! Almost everyone has a big problem or issue that was brought about by the gender they favor. These characters are just a little more pronounced :)
Either way, I enjoyed your production of Cuckoo's immensely. I almost cried with Chief, and I wanted to spit on Nurse Ratched during her scolding of Billy for sleeping with Candy, leading to his demise. The mark of a truly great cast can be judged by how much someone hates their villain, and you guys proved that you're amazing once again.
I enjoyed being a part of your audience!!

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Anonymous said...

I hadn't seen a play like this, especially this up-close, for a long time. The production was very beautiful, which for me, just strengthened the tension with the gut-wrenching developments that unfold. The scenes were like beautiful vignettes, or paintings, that flowed from one to another, like the movement of the actors, who were were very connected with one another in each scene. The presentation was definitely bigger than life, the whole experience seemed unreal, but the behavior and emotion that the cast conveyed was very real and moving. As the story unfolds in a mental hospital, and we feel like we are there with the patients as they interact with each other and their health care professionals. I was SO IMPRESSED with the characterizations, which were like a mosaic of vastly disparate quirks and idiosyncracies that were so varied and unusual, and yet very real. The thought and sensitivity that the actors put into their performances was very palpable. The actors were able to create characters that behave in ways that are quite troubling, and yet they were able to humanize them in a way that makes you want to protect them. I am really quite embarrassed that this performance moved me to tears the way it did. The play had a special meaning for me because it was one of my mother's favorite stories, and I remember her telling me, probably about 25 years ago, that I needed to see it. My mother grew up in Texas in the 50's, and so I am sure that the underlying them of conformity for the sake of survival was not lost upon her. I would be living proof of that. Unfortunately, my mother started to develop early-onset Alzheimer's in 1997, before I brought her out here to California. At one point, I had to admit her temporarily to the Geriatric Psychiatric ward at ****, and if you think that these people don't exist in real life, you are very mistaken. And I am NOT referring to the patients. The doctors proceeded to give my mother, intentionally or not, what appears to have been a chemical lobotomy. My mother left **** unable to lift her head, or stand on her own. While it solved the problem of her walking into the walls, they left her more impaired, and more difficult to care for, than before she went in. The reaction and the behavior of the doctors, hospital staff and administrators to my questions after the fact was "CRAZY" with denial and resentment. So, I really found the production and performances of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest not only as artistic eye-candy, but actually very relevant and meaningful. I would highly recommend seeing it for it's entertainment value.

jenny said...

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jenny said...

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