One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

February 22 — March 27, 2011
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

By Dale Wasserman
from the Ken Kesey novel
Directed by Rose Riordan
“Scarifying and powerful.” —The New York Times

It was set at the Oregon State Hospital, still one of the most controversial institutions in the state. It was arguably the greatest anti-authority protest novel of the 20th century. And it boils down to one insistent refrain: Authority Must Always Be Questioned. Want more? Cuckoo’s Nest pits Randle Patrick McMurphy (a convict who has feigned psychosis so that he can spend the final months of his sentence at a mental institution) against Nurse Ratched (the icy head nurse of the ward), who believes that rules must be followed without exception. A band of crazies gets half-inspired, half destroyed by McMurphy’s rebellion and the question remains… was it worth it anyway?

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm
Thursday matinees at noon

A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the “Buy Tickets” section of the website.

View the Cast and Creative Team Bios

Playbill for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Performance Times

Evenings: Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.,
Thursdays at noon

*Note: These are general performance times. Certain productions may have exceptions. View the season calendar for more information.

This show's run time will be posted below the synopsis at left near the date of the first performance.

Production blog

The Portland Drammy Awards

15 June 2011 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

Last night, several Portland Center Stage staff members attended the 32nd Annual Drammy Awards at the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland. Portland’s version of the Tony Awards – organized by The Portland Civic Theatre Guild – the event recognizes the outstanding work of all of the local actors, directors, designers, songwriters, choreographers, playwrights and everyone else who creates theater in Portland. PCS was honored to take home five awards!


Owsley Stanley: The “Acid King” of the ‘60s

17 March 2011 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

Ken Kesey’s name has been frequently mentioned in the news the past couple of days, amid reports that his LSD “provider,” Owsley Stanley, passed away last weekend in a car accident near his home in Queensland, Australia. Nearly everyone familiar with the history of the 1960s has heard of Ken Kesey, writer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But far fewer remember Owsley Stanley, a man who was arguably just as pivotal as Kesey for altering minds in the 1960s.


Ten Great Literary Villains We Love to Hate

11 March 2011 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nurse Ratched exercises complete and unbridled control over her patients. A cold, relentless and passive-aggressive tyrant, she rules over the ward with a stern and iron fist. She’s McMurphy’s antagonist; the villain of the story that we all love to hate.This got us thinking.What other novels throughout history have given us such strong, despicable and diabolical villains to despise? So here it is: Ten of the most hated characters in literary history.



One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest art & photos View on Flickr »

Artistic Director Chris Coleman and Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan discuss One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. View on Vimeo »

The Cuckoo’s Nest cast visits Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, where the story takes place. View on Vimeo »

Reviews and Features

Alison Hallett | The Portland Mercury [Review 03 Mar 2011]

A few years ago, Portland Center Stage (PCS) produced an original adaptation of Ken Kesey’s brilliant Sometimes a Great Notion. Despite the challenging nature of the material (it’s about loggers!), it was a beautiful show that boded well for this season’s adaptation of PCS’ One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey’s equally compelling 1962 novel. But while Notion managed to distinguish itself from both the novel and film versions of that story, PCS’ current production of Cuckoo’s Nest can’t quite crawl out from the shadows of the work that came before it.

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Ben Waterhouse | Willamette Week [Review 02 Mar 2011]

Under other circumstances, it would be the gravest of insults to say an actor was upstaged by the scenery, but in Rose Riordan’s new production of Kesey’s classic novel, it could hardly be otherwise. Here the asylum is not merely the setting but the lead antagonist: a breathing, blinking being dedicated to extinguishing the humanity of its inhabitants, with Nurse Ratched as its agent. It’s a hell of a set piece, designed by Tony Cisek and lit in a breathtaking realist style by Diane Ferry Williams, all green tile and fluorescent tubes and heavy steel doors, and it transcends verisimilitude. It glowers.

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Michael McGregor | The Oregonian [Review 01 Mar 2011]

Few movies have imprinted themselves on the public consciousness like Milos Forman’s 1975 version of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It is one of only three films in the Academy Awards’ 83-year history to sweep the Big Five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Actor.

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Ron Hockman | CultureMob [Review 01 Mar 2011]

Given the strong acting, brilliant set design, and evocative lighting, opening night of the Portland Center Stage’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a success that will only grow stronger with each performance. Director Rose Riordan does an excellent job of infusing fresh energy into a play that has become a mainstay of the American stage. She and her accomplished actors have put their unique stamp on an American classic that explores the conflict between the individual and an oppressive authority whose purpose is to subdue the spirit through a rigid adherence to rules. And nowhere is this more evident than in the state mental hospital where patients are subjected to vapid elevator-music as they ingest daily doses of medication that leaves them listless and submissive, wasting their unlived lives in the mindless routine of the ward. All under the watchful eye of Nurse Ratched, the Big Nurse, for it is she who controls the ward. That is until the arrival of one Randle Patrick McMurphy.

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Marty Hughley | The Oregonian [Review 25 Feb 2011]

“Sometimes our choices end up being strangely like premonitions,” director Rose Riordan says about the timing of the production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” opening Friday at Portland Center Stage. “In the news lately there’ve been all these stories about the Oregon State Hospital and about the criminally insane, the hospital’s being torn down, and there’s a documentary coming out, and all these things going on.

“But that’s just a coincidence.”

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