Following an emotional start to the festival was ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ which played to a sold out audience. This time the audience were seeing inside a mental institution of the 1950s. It was a time when mental health was handled very differently and understood a lot less than it is today. People with conditions that are recognisable and treatable now would have been forced into these institutions. The whole dynamics change when patient Randle McMurphy enters the ward. With his larger than life personality and his exaggerated ‘craziness’ he fights hard against authority without ever thinking about the consequences. He gives the patients confidence to stand up to the head nurse and hope that one day they can all make it out. As a largely ensemble piece each cast member worked their socks off living every moment onstage completely in character immersing the audience in the lives of these people. By the last night they really had gone slightly insane!
The first show of the Drama Festival 2015, ‘Ghetto’, made a big impact on its audience. Set in the Vilnas district of Lithuania during the Second World War we saw a group of Jews trying to survive life in a Ghetto. In order to live they convinced the Nazi officers that they were musicians and performers. Through theatre they communicated their beliefs as politically as they could dare. At the end of the play Russia started to invade and the audience witnessed the start of a process called Liquidation. The performance captured the brutal history and told the bleak story with sincerity and maturity. The cast gave a heartfelt performance made all the more meaningful after travelling to Poland and visiting the places where this dreadful history was once reality.