Thursday, April 5, 2012

Newport Reads One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Cynthia Whitcomb, Oregon playwright and author, will conclude Newport Reads 2012 with a program on Thursday, April 12, at 6:30 pm at the Newport Senior Center. She will speak about the process of writing a screenplay based on a novel.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the selection for Newport Reads 2012 is one of her favorite books, and she comments, “This novel is a powerful story of an unlikely hero, Randle McMurphy, taking on one of literature’s great villians, Big Nurse Ratched, and defending the patients in an Oregon state mental hospital from having their inner spark of life crushed out of them. It’s a story of redemption. A story worth revisiting, as relevant today as the day it was written.”

In preparation for her talk, the Newport Library Foundation will show the award-winning 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. This screening will be on Tuesday, April 10, at 6:30 at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

The book and the movie are quite different. Everyone is encouraged to read the book, and not just watch the movie. The perspective from the book is much more historical, and focuses on the impact the destruction of the Celilo Falls fishing site had on the book’s narrator, Chief Bromden. The movie focuses more on McMurphy and his influence on the other patients at the state mental hospital.

Whitcomb will address the difference between the book and the movie from a screenwriter’s perspective. An Oregon resident since 1993, Whitcomb has sold over 70 feature-length scripts, 29 of which have been filmed and aired on prime-time national television. Her credits include “Buffalo Girls,” adapted from the novel by Larry McMurtry, which was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, including Best Miniseries. She has written for Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Spacey, Martin Sheen, and Anjelica Huston.

She is a published author as well, having written two books on screenwriting, published in 2002. She teaches screenwriting in the Portland area, and her new play, “Lear’s Follies,” will be produced this summer at the Portland Shakespeare project.

Both of these events are free and open to the public.

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