After having an amazing experience last summer with Parker Players in 12 Angry Men, I was definitely up for another intense journey with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Showing up at auditions, I knew that I believed in Richard's approach to holding auditions and directing (he wants real people who can honestly convey passion--and he has zero tolerance for BS). I came knowing exactly where I thought I would fit best in this story: one of the patients, Dale Harding.
From my first reading of the script, I felt a connection with Dale's journey through the play, set in 1963, from being a defensive, scared, and closeted gay man to being strong enough to stand up to Nurse Ratched and confident enough to go back out into the real world and confront his problems with his wife.
Though he is McMurphy's opposite in most ways, he learns from McMurphy's example and is one of the characters who changes the most due to McMurphy's heroism. While he is at first McMurphy's antagonist--he feels threatened by this "wild" man who is unafraid to stand up to the Big Nurse and question authority, before the end of the first act, he has become McMurphy's friend and even tries to keep him from his fate. As a formerly closeted gay man myself, I understand how Dale's defensiveness masks a deep fear and a sense of shame. At one point he is bullied by the other patients for the way he uses his hands. He is even called a faggot. Dale is also the smartest guy in the room, and, like me, overeducated, but his intelligence and wit can't save him from that deep sense of shame and fear--his inner demons. It has been a fun challenge to trace Dale's growth through the course of the play. I have grown to understand Dale in the same way that I grew to understand Juror 9 in 12 Angry Men and, as with the earlier production, I have had to find the vulnerability under the character's armor of talk and intelligence. It has been a pleasure to undertake this journey once again with Richard and five incredibly talented fellow jurors from last summer as well as having the opportunity to meet and work with some actors whom I did not know but who have now become wonderful colleagues and friends. Parker Players is a unique company of talented actors and production folks who are really a family. I can't wait for you to see this incredible show. Hang on to your hats!!
Bill Chamberlain plays Dale Harding