Let me begin by saying this to you:
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Now- what image has popped in to your head?
Now- forget it.
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 www.freefalltheatre.com for tickets and times. Learn more about Roxanne at www.roxannefay.com!