Drama troupe takes on adaptation of Kesey book

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008

Standing up to an entrenched authority. Abuse of power. Forced conformity or an embrace of what makes us different. Control. Chaos. Redemption.

Photo By Will Morrow
Photo By Will Morrow
McMurphy shares a laugh with fellow patients during a group session with Nurse Ratched, played by Terri Zopf-Schoessler.

The Kenai Performers explore all of these themes on stage as they open their production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" Friday at the playhouse in Old Town Kenai. The play, written by Dale Wasserman, is based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, though many people are more familiar with Nurse Ratched and Randle McMurphy from the 1975 Oscar-winning film.

"Most people will want to see it because they know the Jack Nicholson movie -- it's one of the few films most of saw in the '70s and people still remember," said Terri Zopf-Schoessler, who plays Nurse Ratched in the Kenai Performers' production.

McMurphy, played by Jamie Nelson, is a new patient in a mental hospital, where he encounters -- and antagonizes -- Ratched, who uses any means necessary to exercise control over the patients on her ward.

The play is being co-directed by Ken Duff and Ann Shirnberg.

"I always loved Ken Kesey's book, and I am a child of the '60s myself," Duff said of his interest in the play.

Nelson said those familiar with only the movie might be surprised at the camaraderie and redemption expressed in the play. It's about people coming together and rallying around their abilities, he said.

"It really is a commentary on how we treat people who are different," Zopf-Schoessler said.

While Ratched does her best to ensure her "square pegs" conform to her view of order, McMurphy embraces them for their differences.

"He encourages them to be even weirder shapes," Zopf-Schoessler said.

For more information, visit the Kenai Performers Web site at www.kenaiperformers.org.

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