Terry Petrie shines a light on mental health with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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Terry Petrie is directing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, UVU Theatrical Arts’ first show of the new year.

Olivia Diaz: Why did the department pick this show? Can you tell us a bit about it?Terry Petrie: I really picked it. It’s a play I’ve always wanted to do. When I proposed it to the department they were kind enough to put it on the season. The inmates in their way of helping each other, look at themselves as society in miniature. Since society decides who is sane and who isn’t, you’ve got to measure up. And for some reason that stuck hard with me, that all of us work in different asylums in our lives, and we have to measure up. If i was to take and put the audience on stage and have the inmates in the audience. . . .The difference between “sane” and “insanity” is really a very thin line. Therefore, I was interested in doing this play, treating the inmates as human being that i would like to spend some time with, with all their quirks and follies and illnesses, that they still are intriguing human beings.

OD: Is that why you wanted to tell this story?
TP: That’s part of it. This really is a comedy. It starts out and looks like a comedy. I won’t say it ends with a happy or comedic ending, obviously. The humor is very intriguing. It’s the kind of humor I like; when you can turn something that is funny into something that is poignant, that becomes an interesting journey, in life and in theatre. So, having experienced several events in my life where life is going well, and then suddenly it isn’t. . . . I don’t know that I understand, but I empathize with that journey. It gave me a great chance to go back to some of the great music of the sixties. Today’s music is not as great!

OD: What has the process of that journey been like with the cast?
TP: We’ve done a lot of research, and we’ve had a lot of specialists in the types of mental illnesses that they need to portray come and work with us. We’ve done a lot of improvisation. It’s been a very collaborative effort with everyone involved, and the cast has given into that process and good things have happened. There’s a number of emotional events that are explored.

OD: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show or what people should know?
TP: The cast is made up of young people that have had unfortunate experiences, and it has informed their characters. And they’re doing excellent work.

Cuckoo’s Nest will run from January 19th to January 28th at the Noorda Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at uvu.edu/arts/events