Dale Wasserman

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One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Dale Wasserman's play first appeared as a three act production on Broadway in 1963 in which Kirk Douglas appeared as Randle P McMurphy and then ten years later appeared in a revised, two act version off Broadway with a longer run. Many people will have seen the 1975 film, produced by Michael Douglas, directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson, which collected five Oscars. The play continues to be revived and has had West End productions in 2004 and 2006 as well as its 2006 showing at Iron Acton.

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"Think about it," says Dale Wasserman. "What I do, I ask people I have never met to leave the peace and comfort of their homes, face hazardous traffic and pay outrageous prices in order to be lectured, heckled and hectored by me for more than two hours. Why on earth should they be kind? They enter the theatre with frazzled nerves, wishing they'd stayed by the fireplace, popped corn and watched TV instead.

"But if I've done my job successfully (it happens sometimes) their annoyance fades and they're on a trip according to whatever itinerary I've laid out. Still they're strangers, and if I fail to make the trip worthwhile, there will be no kindness toward me nor will I have deserved any.

"It is customary for an author to list all his credits. I do not intend to do so. It would not only remind me of my age but also of my failures. It is well-known, I think, that I wrote MAN OF LA MANCHA and the stage version of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, two plays which have spread like pandemics. But lately I feel more like their midwife than their creator.