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Kesey Classic Gets Staged Reading at Santa Monica's Broad Stage


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By Jorge Casuso

October 13, 2017 -- When Ken Kesey's first novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was published in 1962, it was hailed as an instant classic -- "boisterous," "nightmarish" and "glowing."

On Monday, Kesey's award-winning book will return to The Broad Stage in Santa Monica in a dress rehearsal/staged reading that is part of Bonnie Franklin’s Classic and Contemporary American Plays (CCAP).

The show, tailored for underserved junior and senior high school students and their teachers, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Monnica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th Street.
Cover of "One Flew Over  the Cuckoo's Nest"

Wasserman’s adaptation of Kesey’s book -- which was turned into a 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson -- "brings McMurphy, Nurse Ratched and Chief Bromden to life through the dialogue and staging," event organizers said.

"The themes of anger and control in a therapeutic setting leave audience members thinking critically about the connections between history and today" and "reflecting on their own experiences and opinions."

Kesey based "Cuckoo's Nest" on his experience working as a nurse’s aide in the psychiatric ward of a California Veteran’s Hospital while he was a creative-writing student at Stanford University.

During his time there, Kesey volunteered for CIA-financed experiments with hallucinogens.

“They gave these right on the ward,” Kesey’s former wife Faye Kesey McMurtry said in an interview, “in a little room where you could look out and see everybody.

"And as he would look out the window, he began to wonder, you know, ‘What’s the difference between the orderlies and the nurse and the patients?’ And he began to see that they were all damaged in some way or another.”

The novel tells the story of McMurphy, who chooses the mental institution to a prison farm thinking it will be less restrictive only to fall under the iron grip of Nurse Ratched, who controls her patients through abuse, medications and electroshock therapy.

"In the story, McMurphy is punished for challenging authority -- crucified with electro-shock therapy, then martyred with a lobotomy," event organizers said.

Monday's event is free, but all tickets include a non-refundable, $2 processing fee. For tickets click here


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