Finding clear journey for her character

Garibaldi secondary grad stars in Studio 58 production

Erin Cassidy of Maple Ridge plays Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Erin Cassidy of Maple Ridge plays Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Maple Ridge’s Erin Cassidy will be taking on the role of Nurse Ratched in Studio 58’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

It has been a busy three years for Cassidy, who will be graduating from Langara College’s professional theatre training program this year.

Over the course of the program, Cassidy has had roles in Innocence Lost, directed by Sarah Rogers, Perfect, directed by Leslie Jones, and a variety of roles in The Old Man and the Sea, directed by Emelia Symington-Fedy and Christie Watson.

However, playing Nurse Ratched is the highlight of her college career.

“This is a pretty interesting role for me. I feel honoured to be playing nurse Ratched. I saw the movie when I was a lot younger and it’s so iconic,” said Cassidy, a 2008 Garibaldi secondary grad.

“I feel so lucky that this is the role I get to play at my last show at the school, too,” she continued.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel by Ken Kesey that was first published in 1962. It was adapted into a Broadway play a year later by Dale Wasserman.

The 1975 film version starred Jack Nicholson and won five Academy awards, including Best Picture.

It tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy, played by Markian Tarasiuk, who fakes insanity to serve out a prison sentence at a psychiatric hospital instead of behind bars, only to find out the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, rules the ward with an iron fist.

“She has a very strict sense of control and likes things to go her way. When McMurphy, Markian Tarasiuk’s character, comes in, he disrupts things and she does not like that. She’s trying to keep an order of the ward. That’s the only way she sees the possibility of helping these patients.” explained Cassidy.

When the rest of the patients in the ward jump to McMurphy’s side, a power struggle ensues.

It’s the largest role Cassidy has played and she admits, a pretty significant jump for her.

“It’s a battle between McMurphy and Ratched and I think that every time they meet each other, [Ratched] has to win because every moment counts,” said Cassidy.

The role requires a lot of focus and energy from Cassidy, who warms up by doing breathing exercises and shifting her mind to Nurse Ratched’s world before the show.

There are also some intense scenes in the second act that challenge her emotionally as an actress. Especially one of the final scenes,  in which McMurphy and Ratched finally butt heads.

“My cast mates and I were saying it’s a good sign in a show if there’s a scene within it you feel nervous about,” said Cassidy.

“Because it means your character has a clear journey.”


One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest runs until Nov. 30 at Langara College, 100 West 49th Avenue Vancouver.

To purchase tickets call 604-684-2787 or go to