The Buffalo Kings – Extended Experience

matthewJanuary 28th, 2015Show NewsNo Comments

By Katie Berger


“The Buffalo Kings” is two weekends in and going strong.  It seems as though there is some aspect of the story which any individual can somehow relate to – dysfunctional families, mental illness, holiday stress, and caring for our own caregivers are just a few of the many facets of this story which audiences each night have connected to.

If you have seen the show and find yourself wanting more, look no further!  I have compiled a list of resources for The Buffalo Kings Extended Experience:

Extended Reading

If you find yourself fascinated by the struggles faced by Olive as a mother battling her own mental illnesses, you might enjoy the book “Where’d you go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple, which tells the tale of a mother battling her own demons and what her daughter must do in the face of those adversities.

If you were touched and unsettled by brutal hate crime inflicted upon Nick, you should definitely take time to read “The Laramie Project” by Moises Kaufman, which chronicles the true story of Matthew Shepard.  It tackles issues of homophobia, violence, and discrimination in a painfully real way.

Extended Watching

While observing the King family, especially the relationship between Harold and Nick, I couldn’t help but think of the charming film, “Little Miss Sunshine”, and how the older generations sometimes bring us the lessons we most in the most unlikely ways.

“August Osage County” : the dysfunctional family to rule them all.  If you don’t have a chance to see this Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts, you can now watch the movie!

Extended Listening

One of my favorite parts of this particular production is the lovely, resonant guitar music which plays between scenes and during poignant parts of the story.  Eric captured the essence of the family through this music, which is all original pieces composed specifically for the show by various artists.  It brought to mind the hauntingly beautiful melodies of Tarkio and The Decemberists.

For you more Musical Theatre inclined folks, “Next to Normal” takes the family pulled apart and pushed together to a whole other level, while packing a huge emotional punch.  Also a Pulitzer Prize winner, this show begs to be listened to.  Go ahead and try out the cast album if you haven’t already!

If you haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing this world premiere production yet, make sure to get your tickets soon…they are going fast!  You have until February 8th to join the King family for a holiday you definitely won’t forget.

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Opening Night – Premieres, Pride, and Penguins.

matthewJanuary 21st, 2015Company News, Show NewsNo Comments

By Katie Berger

Saturday was an extremely exciting night for us all here at FreeFall Theatre.  It was opening night of “The Buffalo Kings”!  After two preview performances, this world premiere by our dear friend Natalie Symons is officially out into the world for all to see and enjoy.

The audience was enthralled by the actors, set, lighting, and of course the wonderful and relateable story.  Many people left the theatre in tears, some were clutching their sides from laughter, but everyone felt something while watching this dysfunctional family celebrate their version of Christmas.  I, for one, was smiling like a loon and wiping away tears simultaneously.   There was only one thing to do after watching the world premiere of this new, exciting show.  Party!!

The cast, crew, and audience celebrated together at a party complete with music by Erica DeCeglie, Buffalo Wings for the Buffalo Kings, and homemade penguin treats…to really appreciate these little guys, you’re going to have to go see the show.

Olive King’s Olive Penguins

What you’ll need: Black olives (large and small), cream cheese, carrots, roasted red peppers, toothpicks.

Prep: Cut and fill large olives with cream cheese, cut roasted red peppers into strips, cut carrots into coins, cut small triangles out of carrot coins.

To assemble: Place large olive on top of carrot feet and secure with a toothpick.  Wrap red pepper strip around toothpick, followed by small black olive for the head.  Insert small carrot triangle for the beak.  Easy and adorable!


We certainly hope to see you at the theatre because “The Buffalo Kings” is a show you won’t want to miss!  It runs until February 8th, so get your tickets now!

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Field Guide to Tech Week!

matthewJanuary 14th, 2015Company News, Show NewsNo Comments

By Katie Berger

Opening night is upon us here at freeFall theatre, and that can only mean one thing – TECH WEEK!! The Buffalo Kings  opens this Saturday, so currently it is an interesting time around the theatre, and a time that is hard to understand unless you are in the thick of it.  It is a time that can either be exciting, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once.  The race to the finish line (which is really just the beginning of the journey) is what we in the theatre live for.  To help shed some light on the most intense week of rehearsal, we have put together a dictionary that can be easily referenced when speaking with those crazy theatre types.

TECHNICAL WEEK (tech week, tech, production week, hell week, etc.)

  1. The week before the opening performance of a production, in which the technical and artistic aspects of the show are all present for the rehearsal process.

  2. The week before the opening performance of a production, in which actors, technicians, etc. are constantly rehearsing, have no time, can be found at the theatre, and require copious amounts of caffeine.

Used in a sentence: “I can’t, it’s tech week.”


  1. The process in which the Lighting Designer places the lighting instruments on the grid above the stage in order to create the design he/she has envisioned for the production.  This takes place before the actors enter the tech week process.

Used in a sentence: “We can start using lights tomorrow evening, because Mike Wood already finished the hang and focus.”


  1. A rehearsal within tech week in which the Stage Manager goes through all of the sound and light cues within a show, skipping the dialogue in between.  Once the cue has passed and is set, the Stage Manager or Director will yell “HOLD,” and the actors will move on to the next moment.

  2. For Actors: One of the most frustrating and monotonous rehearsals in the process.

Used in a sentence: “I need to stretch. We’re only half way through cue to cue and I’ve been standing in my spotlight for 25 minutes.”


  1. What the Director or Stage Manager yells during rehearsal in order to signal the actors and technicians to stop what they are doing.  During this time adjustments are made.

Used in a sentence: “Did Daniel just yell HOLD, or am I delirious?”


  1. The days during tech week in which the actors and technicians are called for 10 hours out of the 12 hour day.

  2. A day before a very good sleep.

Used in a sentence: “It’s a ten out of twelve today so I’ll probably just take a nap in the green room…can you pick me up some Starbucks?”


  1. A rehearsal where the actors go through the entire play, but the Director and Stage Manager has the ability to call “hold” and fix things when necessary.

Used in a sentence: “Too bad that was only a stumble through, I did some of my best stage crying tonight!”

You might be wondering why we put ourselves through Tech Week if it’s such a whirlwind and can often be stressful and lead to lack of sleep.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret…we love it.  It is the time of the process where everything comes together, the magic happens, and there is hope!  And before you know it, it’s opening night.  I hope to see you there!!


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Katie Berger talks INTO THE WOODS and playing Little Red!

matthewSeptember 26th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

I have always been drawn to the stories of wise old children. Peter Pan and his lost boys. Changelings in the bodies of tots for hundreds of years at a time, the little people who haunted the forests of Ireland. My mind is constantly brimming over with stories about them. I tell myself a different tale each night, to carry me into dream land. My fascination with these stories stem from the fact that I am, in a way, one of them. I…look young.

WHAT? You, Katie Berger, look YOUNG?! I know, I know you may be shocked to know that I do in fact get mistaken for sometimes 10 years my junior. Recently, when I went out for my 24th birthday, I got carded at every possible point (security, bartender, waitress, guy sitting next to me) and all I could do was hand them my license and say “I mean I promise it’s real soooo….”

The funniest thing is that people expect me to be super offended when they inform me that I look child-like (as if they are the first to offer me this earth shattering information). And true, I could do without people asking me where my parents are and why I’m not at school, but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because it allows me to bring characters such as Little Red and Frances Boggs to life! I like to think that I am an undercover anthropologist of the adolescent and teenage psyche, and that every time I get asked if I would prefer the kids menu, I’m really just doing character work. Here are the 3 most important things I’ve learned in my research:

1. Playing these roles isn’t easier than their adult counterparts. Kids and teens go through really difficult things, which I’m sure all of you remember well from your own coming of age. I believe puberty is one of the great human connections that brings us together as a species, because every one of us has gone through the trying time that is adolescence. Everyone knows what it is like to be a teenager/young adult struggling to find yourself in the midst of all the craziness. Everyone looks back on their teens/early twenties and thinks to themselves “wow, why did I make such a big deal out of that?!” But THAT’S THE THING…It is a big deal.

2. People are constantly searching for some part of their childhood to relate to, and when given the chance, being reminded of the innocence and pure joy of youth can completely turn a person’s day (or life) around.

3. Children are often the wisest of us all, and we can learn a lot from them.

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More great press for freeFall’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST

matthewSeptember 12th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

ST. PETERSBURG — A tie-dye bus driven by the son of late author Ken Kesey is zizagging the nation in homage to the famed sojourn half a century ago when Kesey and his Merry Pranksters helped launch the hippie era.

Tampa Bay is not on their itinerary.

“We didn’t see a need,” Zane Kesey said during a phone interview, over the roar of the bus and the gleeful chatter of its passengers. “But maybe there was.”

In fact, it’s hard to a imagine a place more focused on Kesey and his works than the freeFall Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, where a stage version of his most popular novel — “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest,” about a brash loner who inspires fellow asylum patients to rebel — has sold out every show in a six-week run that ends Sunday.

Jim Sorensen, freeFall Theatre’s managing director, said the five-year-old theater has sold almost triple the 1,500 tickets normal for a play’s full run.

It was recently honored with nine Theatre Tampa Bay nominations, including best ensemble and outstanding production.

“It has been unprecedented success,” said Leigh Simon, who portrays asylum patient Scanlon and produced a documentary that gives audiences a backstage look at freeFall Theatre’s production. The video is at

“I think that success has a lot to do with the brilliance of the play,” Simon said.

It is an immersive production, placing the audience at the center of the action.

All seating is styled after hospital furniture and the entire theater is decorated as a mental institution. Actors move throughout it, treating every inch as their set.

“My father would have enjoyed that,” Zane Kesey said. “He liked the shows that got the audience involved. He loved getting rid of those barriers that separate the audience and the performers.”

Sorensen of freeFall also attributed the success of his company’s “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” to the continuing popularity of the story 50 years after the book was published.

“People still relate to it,” Sorensen said. “It asks the question, ‘Who is crazy? The inmate or the asylum?’”

The patients central to the story are not insane, Sorenson said. They are labeled so because they act and behave in ways considered unconventional by the majority.

“People still see ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ as a metaphor for rallying against the establishment that wants everyone to be the same,” he said. “It is a powerful message for any generation and one that Ken Kesey remains the spokesman for.”

“The combine lives,” quipped Ken Babbs, who was Ken Kesey’s close friend and a Merry Prankster – the group that formed around the author in Oregon and California for its epic 1964 bus trip. The combine is how the machine-like nature of the asylum system is described in the book.

“It assumes many identities and needs bodies to work its ills.”

Babbs was on the bus trip that turned Kesey from respected author to folk hero.

The trek, chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” began at Kesey’s ranch in La Honda, California, and ended at the World’s Fair in New York City. The trip was staged in part to promote the author’s second novel, “Sometimes a Great Notion.”

Fueled by LSD and other drugs, the Merry Pranksters boarded a wildly painted bus named “Furthur” and introduced Americans to the carefree and colorful lifestyle that would mark the decade.

It was a journey made possible by the success of “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“Kesey said his greatest work was the bus because it wasn’t art written on a page or shown in a movie but was art out amongst the people,” Babbs said.

“We were riding a wave,” he added. “We didn’t create the wave, and lots of others were riding it, too, and the wave is still going on.”

The memorial journey led by Zane Kesey takes place aboard “Further 2.0,” a bus his father purchased in the 1980s and decorated like the original. The journey started in July, runs through this month or longer, and has covered more than 7,000 miles — taking in music, historic and literary festivals in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and any event or city that embodies the spirit of the original trip.

Zane Kesey’s sojourn is drug free, its purpose to remind and teach America of the importance of his father’s trek.

“There are two types of people — those who already know about the bus and those who see it and want their photo taken with it and in the process learn the history,” Zane Kesey said. “When you get those two types of people together, they always have a lot to talk about.”

Those riding the new bus are seeing first hand, as Sorenson observed, that the story of “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” continues to resonate.

“High school teachers who grew up on it have chosen it as mandatory reading for their students,” Zane Kesey said. “You would be surprised how many high schools require it.”

The movie version starring Jack Nicholson won all five major Academy Awards in 1975 — best picture, actor in lead role, actress in lead role, director and screenplay.

In its initial run of 82 performances on Broadway, November 1963 to January 1964, the play starred Kirk Douglass and Gene Wilder. It inspired theatrical productions nationwide.

“Some of my father’s favorite performances took place at high schools,” Zane Kesey said. “He didn’t care whether star actors were in it. He cared about the passion of the performance.”

That passion, said filmmaker Simon, is evident in the freeFall Theatre performances.

“The actors love playing these meaty and sexy roles. There is an edge to the characters staying in an asylum as they transform from being part of the system to individuals.”

(813) 259-7604

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freeFall premieres documentary on the making of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST

matthewAugust 28th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

ST. PETERSBURG – (August 28, 2014) Check out a 15 minute documentary on freeFall’s smash hit ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST!
Award-winning filmmaker Leigh Simons gives audiences a backstage pass to the theatrical event of the summer. Take an inside look at how freeFall Artistic Director Eric Davis and his team created this exciting, immersive staging of an American classic. CUCKOO’S NEST has been extended through September 14. Tickets are available by calling 727-498-5205 or by visiting

freeFall’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST was recently honored with 9 Theatre Tampa Bay nominations including Best Ensemble and Outstanding Production of a Play.

Theatre Tampa Bay is an independent alliance created to raise the profile of our region’s professional theatre community. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST is also freeFall’s highest selling play (non-musical).

Writer, Director and Producer Leigh Simons has produced a wide variety of television and motion picture programming over the past 27 years. The past decade his expertise has been widely recognized for his accomplishments in the area of sports documentary programming having produced over 30 boxing sports documentaries for HBO Sports, SHOWTIME Sports and FOX sports networks while working with some of the biggest names in boxing. Simons has recently begun work with freeFall Theatre producing behind-the-scenes documentaries of several productions helping to expose new audiences to the freeFall experience. Simons had unprecedented access as he auditioned and was cast in freeFall’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.

Interviews with Eric Davis and Leigh Simons can be scheduled by calling Matthew McGee at 727-498-5205 X 7.

Link included below. Please SHARE online with your readers!!!

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Articulate Suncoast puts spotlight on Eric Davis and James Oliver!

matthewAugust 13th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

Things are getting a little cuckoo at freeFall theatre in St. Pete: rounding out the 2013-2014 season is a local production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

A Dale Wasserman stage version of Ken Kesey’s novel, also made into a classic 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson, the play opened August 2nd for a limited run of 22 performances through September 14th.

The final show of freeFall’s season, Cuckoo’s Nest boasts a large cast, featuring names like James Oliver (McMurphy), Roxanne Fay (Nurse Ratched) and Michael Nichols (Chief Bromden), who also starred in the 2001 Broadway Production of the same play. Directed by freeFall mastermind Eric Davis, the play is slated to be the local theatrical event of the summer.

Articulate got a chance to chat with director Eric Davis and leading actor James Oliver (freeFall’s Miss Julie and NBC’s Fraiser). Oliver and Davis are no strangers to artistic eminence—the two are big names currently shaping the Tampa Bay area performing arts scene.

How long have you been directing/acting? Why did you start?

Eric Davis: I directed my first play as a high school student. It was an evening of student-directed one-acts that I organized. I’ve always liked the idea of bringing the vision of a play as I imagine it while I’m reading it into reality. It’s still a very thrilling idea to me.

James Oliver: I’ve been acting since I was ten because my grandmother made me. I wish she could see that I’ve never stopped since then.

What inspires you?

ED: I find inspiration from a lot of sources: other theater that I see, film, music, visual art, things I read. Almost anything I encounter can become an inspiration for something.

JO: Nature. Animals. The Hopi. Hawaii. Thunder.

What’s led you to where you are in your career today?

ED: It would be impossible to list all of the people and opportunities and obstacles and choices that have led me to be here now. As with anyone in any field, every moment and experience that has come before has somehow contributed to where one finds oneself.

JO: In all seriousness, my career has been bumpy. Most are. It’s a tough road, no question. But I’m happy where I’m at as an actor. I’m better than I’ve ever been and I am learning all of the time.

Is there a specific artist you relate to, look up to, strive to emulate?

ED: I don’t really strive to emulate anyone else’s work. Instead, I respect and relate to many other artists. I’ve always loved the work of Baz Luhrmann, and Peter Greenaway. I love the stunning visual imagery they both create and I have always enjoyed employing anachronism as a theatrical device which nobody does quite as boldly as Luhrmann.

JO: There are people that inspire me, but you can’t strive to emulate anyone—you have to try to do better work than them. Build off what they’ve done, or what’s the point? Honor your heroes by picking up where they left off and digging deeper. I don’t want to be anyone’s fan, I want to create with them. But the real answer you’re looking for is: Jack and Marlon. More recently, Mark Rylance. He’s a badass and seems to be afraid of nothing. I also love Henry Miller, Tom Robbins and a million others. Anyone telling the truth and cutting through the nonsense of commercial enslavement is my hero. Eric Davis of freeFall is actually a hero of mine. I was just thinking that the other day. He had a vision and he has manifested it without compromise in a world that would offer a million reasons to doubt it would work. That’s incredible to me and I’m blown away each time I come back here to work with him.

What do you consider the best thing about being an artist?

ED: As Shakespeare put it, we are “the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.”

JO: The fact that you’re defying the collective agreement that earning money is the most important thing in life and, instead, serving beauty above all else; striving to awaken people’s feelings that we have more in common than we are different, communing with the great writers in history to create something new and carrying that brilliant lineage forward, disrupting mundanity and ignorance and becoming a better, stronger, more complete person in order to act from truth and not from the need to please or entertain. It is fascinating work and I’ll spend my whole life doing it.

How do you feel when people interpret your work differently than intended?

ED: I don’t concern myself with how others interpret my work. It does bother me when others feel the need to share with me how they interpret my work. I prefer to put the work out there for people to do with what they will. What they take away from it is a combination of how I intend the piece to work on them, both consciously and subliminally, and what they experience personally because of their past experiences and particular points of view.

JO: I don’t think about it at all. It’s theirs to interpret as they please. It’s not my business to tell them what to think – it’s my business to tell the truth as best as I can and then go home.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

ED: I would advise them to work hard and learn as much as possible about their chosen form as possible.

JO: Erase the idea of an “audience.” You are them and they are you. So, go as deeply into the truth as you can and try to reveal it to yourself without controlling it. That’s magic. That’s what we love about art and that’s why it’s vital to any culture that wishes to evolve.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JO: Have a good day. Go outside. Respect the Earth.

Catch Davis and Oliver in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at freeFall until August 31st. For dates, times and ticket prices, visit

- See more at:

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freeFall favorite Kelly Pekar starts her own blog!!

matthewAugust 7th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

We’ve turned the internet into a pretty powerful place for self-expression, don’t you think? Social media sites, blogs, and the power of the almighty YouTube give our complex humanoid egos a platform to vent, express our passions, and find others who share (or don’t) our views, in seconds. At the tap of a mouse. In our pajamas. With Thai food in our lap.

We feel validated and less alone when we think someone (or several thousand someones) share our experiences, frustrations, and general confusion about the world we are creating. It feels good to be heard. Especially when we feel wronged – personally, or as a society. The internet seems to be a pretty safe channel for “getting it all out,” without an actual human, face-to-face confrontation.

And just as I believe that personal blogs, Facebook status updates, and Twitter feeds can be cathartic places for these kinds of self-expression, I’m equally fascinated and inspired by how much incredible light there is out there, too – created by the same flawed and beautiful human race that it’s so easy for us (myself included!) to find fault with. And I wonder what would happen if we added a stream of thoughtful and well- purposed celebration to the mix of everything else we are putting out into the wild and wonderful world of the interwebs.

We will never be able to eliminate every single bit that seems wrong to us, on this planet. We can, however become detectives for the good – and by shining our flashlights on what is WORKING in our community and in our world, we make ourselves more aware of the incredible quantity of brilliance that exists in our lives. I very much believe that this awareness and constant mining of what is life-giving and beautiful in our current situation makes us attract, create, and inspire others to perpetuate more light and goodness in our own lives, and the lives of others.

In this blog, I will be celebrating one Good Bit, each week. This may range from an act of kindness seen between strangers on the subway, to an awesome organization, to anything that tickles my fancy and merits a celebration for adding a teaspoon of positivity to the planet! Specifically, this blog will hi-light the particular rockstar humans who are making these Little Bits of Good happen. These folks are adding their unique piece to the magical mosaic that is our world. And stepping back, we might just see how great the view is!

I encourage you to read, pass along, and share your own stories if you wish, and feel so inspired! This blog is not meant to act as a vehicle for turning a blind eye to anything that causes distress – but if we’re going to freak out about what makes us rage – why not also freak out about what makes us dance?

I’m a libra. Always searching for balance. And this site is for dancing : )

Stay tuned for the first featured Good Bit, coming at you on Monday, August 11th!

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In the Presence of Greatness By Kara Goldberg

matthewJuly 30th, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

In the Presence of Greatness
By Kara Goldberg

The sun shines brighter on days that I go to work at freeFall Theatre. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day. Playing a character in one of my favorite stories, in my favorite theatre, with some of the most talented artists I’ve ever known. I am one lucky girl.

My name is Kara, I was born and raised here in St. Pete, and I play Nurse Flinn in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve been in the theatre for 15 years thanks to the amazing educational theatre that this area has to offer. I graduated from Flagler College in December of 2010. That’s when I heard about a new theatre that would be opening in my home town that January. I did some research, emailed Jim Sorenson about volunteering for The Frogs, and soon arrived at freeFall. I was so impressed with the production value, that I became a regular volunteer and, in time, an intern for the company.

It was during The Frogs that I was first introduced to Roxanne Fay. I watched as she seamlessly stepped in for an actress that had a family emergency. I soon got to know her through her work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and later in Cabaret, Romeo and Juliet, and The Normal Heart. Not only is Roxanne one of the most talented actresses I’ve seen, but she’s sweet, humble, and funny in real life to boot! What an incredible treat it has been for me to work alongside this woman. I couldn’t imagine anyone better to play, and redefine, the iconic role of Nurse Ratched.

Even more recognizable than Nurse Ratched, the cast needed a capable actor to raise hell as our R.P. McMurphy. Someone who could hold his own against Ms. Fay. A while back I caught wind that the role had been cast, and it was an actor from California. Immediately, my mind went to the 2011 production of Miss Julie starring James Oliver, a California actor. Lucky for us all, my inkling was correct, and James is our McMurphy. Not only do I get to witness him make an extraordinary transformation on stage, but I have learned about his experiences as an actor. If I didn’t already feel like I was in the presence of greatness, Mr. Oliver sealed the deal.

I could go on about each actor. The slew of talent and experience each brings to the table… But you’ll be able to see for yourself when we open in August. What may not be as easy to detect is the incredible amount of work that goes into these productions.

When you walk into the theatre, take note of the realistic broom closet and bathroom on stage. That is thanks to both our set designer Steven Mitchell and light designer Mike Wood. Realize that our costumer, Scott Daniel, has to dress actors that are inches away from the audience, and seen from every angle. Try to understand that our stage manager, Daniel Lemien, has had to keep track of our entire cast and crew. Ensuring that we all show up and speak every word as it’s written. Most important, appreciate that this is the brainchild of our fearless Director, Eric Davis. He ensures that all elements come together beautifully. Leaving you, the audience, with a whole new perspective on life.

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matthewJuly 22nd, 2014UncategorizedNo Comments

Let me begin by saying this to you:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Nurse Ratched.
Now- what image has popped in to your head?
Now- forget it.
Can you?

I first saw the film of Cuckoo’s Nest when I was a teenager and I have never forgotten Louise Fletcher- that iron lady in the starched white uniform. The symbol of a seemingly absolute power- a malevolent presence. The bad guy. These many years later, I am learning to love Nurse Ratched. To identify with her. To agree with her. It is the difference between experiencing the world of the ward from the inside as opposed to the outside. In creating a character, one becomes part of a new world, a new reality. Seeing a familiar situation from a completely different angle. Nurse Ratched lives in the world of Kesey and Wasserman’s words and images and under our amazing director, Eric Davis, this world is being revealed and we (the company) are coming to live within it- to its very sounds, smells and colors.
I now see Nurse Ratched from a different perspective- her perspective.

She is not a villain. She is a dedicated professional who has devoted her life to the care and cure of patients she cares for deeply. These are her children. When a foreigner-
a bully- appears in her schoolyard, her instinct to protect her brood from outside danger and temptation kicks in to full force. She will do what she must to maintain safety and order in her world- her family’s world. She will fight the enemy- who is, to her, the real bad guy.

I have been fortunate enough to be called upon to portray some iconic roles during my career- Eliza Doolittle, Sally Bowles, Lady Macbeth to mention a few- characters who are themselves famous, and have often been played by famous people.

I spent the summer season of 2000 in the Steppenwolf professional training company, the year that their production of Cuckoo’s Nest opened, and watched Amy Morton as Nurse Ratched several times.

Louise Fletcher won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Nurse Ratched.

Very big shoes.

It is somewhat intimidating, but it is ultimately such a rich gift to experience what it is that makes this role so immortal and to step in to the very skin of an iconic image.

I am truly honored to have the opportunity to create this woman anew, in this place, with this cast and this company- our world of Cuckoo’s Nest will be like no other because of them and this reality.

Roxanne Fay is currently starring as Nurse Ratched in freeFall’s production of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST opening August 2 for 22 performances. Call 727-498-5205 or visit for tickets and times. Learn more about Roxanne at!


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