Alexander Morfov >> works >> theatre productions >> One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest | NT Bulgaria 

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Ivan Vazov National Theatre of Bulgaria, Sofia 

premiere 2 December 2010, Main stage





Set & costumes 







Ken Kesey's novel 

Mariana Nedelcheva 

Alexander Morfov 


Elena Ivanova 

Mila Iskrenova 

Dobrin Kashavelov  

Liana Dimitrova 

220 min., with intermission  

Deyan Donkov, Ivan Barnev, Renny Vrangova, Stoyan Alexiev, Emil I. Markov, Plamen Peev, Roussi Chanev, Stefa Kashev, Yordan Petkov, Valentin Ganev / Teodor Elmazov, Vyara Tabakova, Ivan Yurukov, Viktor Tanev, Lubomir Petkashev, Iliana Kodzhabasheva, Leart Dokle, etc. 

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     Ken Kesey writes the novel "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" while working as a night shift watchman for a psychiatric clinic for veterans and under the influence of LSD as he was previously participating in voluntary drug tests held and financed by the government. He and a group of friends buy a 25-year old school bus for the price of $ 1500, paint it in bright colours, name it "Further" and start travelling around the US and giving out drugs to anyone who wants to try. And it is as if the leading character in the novel - Randle Patrick McMurphy, comes off this same school bus of the "Merry Pranksters", by which they became known, to turn into one of the brightest representatives of the so-called counterculture. Kesey's second novel "Sometimes a Great Notion" comments on conflict between western individualism and eastern intellectualism taking place in the US. After an artistic setback, including doing some prison time for marijuana possession, he published his third novel "Sailor song". In his books he will often present a large scale model of the society through a particular case he describes. Kesey also resorts to "local nationalism" as he usually sets the action in his novels in the places where he spent his childhood years - a fact that explains why some critics compare him to William Faulkner. 

     After "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" gains popularity Kirk Douglas buys the license and teams with Dale Wasserman to work over a stage adaptation. "I enjoy the idea of the rebellion of man against society." Wasserman admits. Later in the years his son Michael Douglas produces the film with Jack Nicholson in the leading role. In 1976 "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest", directed by Milos Forman, receives five Oscars. 

     Alexander Morfov offers his original stage adaptation. 

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, NT Bg

Alexander and Excogitation 

     This is not a theatre review, this is a portrait attempt of one of my closest friends. That's why it's difficult. That's why I go straight forward. I've seen all of Sasho's productions but always found the biggest pleasure during rehearsals. This man has fun while at work. That's why everything he does seems light, fairy, true and at the same time full of mighty power. His themes are always very personal. I feel that he is in an on-going admission of love for humanity, no, for the human being would be more precise. As it is with Chaplin, with Fellini. And I think this is exactly what makes his productions full of meaning. During an argument that we once had we agreed that every piece of art that has endured time, has been motivated by humanism. Something like the security thread in a bill that helps you figure if its counterfeit. A man who refuses to agree with the surrounding world tries to invent it. He once told me: "Man, I have the feeling that I should have gotten off this train in XVIIth century but I missed my station and ended up in the XXth." Our favourite exercise - excogitation, is an incredible experience. The rules of the game are that every idea needs to be taken further to a higher degree if there is still more to be added to it. Cervantes, Shakespeare, Beckett, Mrozek - all of them are our close friends in a parallel dimension. Fun and sadness are interwoven into an intricate thread. He, unweaving this thread, sets both of them free in his productions. At the back of the Wailing Wall there must be a Laughing Wall. Strange stuff, or as they say: "Time has no coast!" But I think what best describes my friend Alexander Morfov is a title of a book by an author we both fondly love - Emil Cioran. The title is "Vertigo of Skepticism"*, and maybe of Love. 

~ Ludmil Stanev

*the book's original title is "Syllogismes de l'amertume"

Rehearsals for a tour in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Vintery, mintery,

Cutery, corn,

Apple seed

Аnd apple thorn,

Wire, briar,

Limber lock

Three geese in a flock

One flew East

One flew West

And one flew

Оver the cuckoo's nest

     My grandmother died in a hospital. At the time we were at the reservation and when we arrived they had already buried her. My father said that we should undig her and bury her according to our tradition. We went to the graveyard - me, my father, my uncle - the Jumping Wolf, and we undug her. Well, true it wasn't a perfect planning, because we couldn't find her immeadiately and we undug a few other corpses and there was no time to bury them back because the police arrived and we had to run. We started for home. My father was driving and my uncle was sitting next to him, on the front seats, while I and my grandmother were back in the bodywork. The truck was jumping all over and I had hugged her tight so that she doesn't fall off. For a moment it felt like not I, but she is the one hugging me and I think I heard her voice - quiet and melodic... Grandma used to sing this song to us while we were sitting by the kipper, chasing the flies. On the next day we were arrested. The policemen were beating us and shouting "When will you, stupid Indians, learn that dead people should be buried in the ground!" We buried our dead in the sky.

~ Chief Bromden

Gospel According to McMurphy

1. You're safe as long as you laugh. Open up & laugh; when you lose your laugh, you lose your footing, your grasp on life.

2.True wisdom is largely innate, inherent in your biological nature. The influence of others is a weakening force. Be yourself & what you want to be.

3. Persist in the face of opposition. Don't give up the ship- and don't let the 'givens' of your life, physical or situational, limit your choices.

4. Life is a gamble for stakes. Play not to win, but to try the impossible, the prize is in the effort. Remember, honest self-interest equals sanity.

5. Intense and diversified experiences makes a full life, not careers and routines. And sexual experience is a central business of living, a fundamental good.

6. Be aware and analytical. Look the game over before you draw a hand.

7. Be adaptable, not rigid.

8. Freedom goes to the wary. Stay free of bonds, even self-imposed ones. Travel light-footed & fast; a moving target is hard to hit.

9. A man's destiny is always in his own hands.

10. Bravado & courage are sources of power, and physical contests are necessary to preserve one's integrity. 

~ John Taylor Gatto



Nomination for "Askeer" Annual Theatre Award 2011 - Alexander Morfov, Stage Director of the Year 

"Icarus" Annual Theatre Award, given by the Union of Bulgarian Actors, 2011 - Ivan Barnev, Supproting Male Role (Billy Bibbit) 

"Askeer" Annual Theatre Award 2011 - Ivan Barnev, Supproting Male Role (Billy Bibbit) 



"The charming and brutal hooligan McMurphy arrives at the psychiatric ward, seemingly managed with love and affection by nurse Ratched, and everything  turns upside down. The norms, the rules and the order are blasted from the inside, the structured life of the inhabitants of the "cuckoo's nest" is down to pieces and seeds of realisation, discontent, riot and hope start sprouting. [...] After engaging in a number of dynamic and emotional scenes - the first riot, the Saturnday carnival and Billy and Kate's date, the production ends with the flame of the final fire or the flame of freedom... Alexander Morfov's "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" will inevitably call the audience's emotions and judgement because it raises questions that are as serious as they are cruel in their insightfulness."

Riot in the Madhouse | Svetlana Pancheva,, 04.12.2010 


"Alexander Morfov's "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" at the National Theatre proves to be the most mature, powerful, outrageous and painful among his productions on our leading stage. We were wondering whether the favourite director of the young audience isn't a bit late with his shock injection of theatre LSD that he has been giving for years around Russian stages. But it is agreed that the moment for this intelligent and throat-clenching show has been perfectly chosen - right now, when chaos, absurd and cuckoo's nests in culture, politics and social life are extensively growing in number, more than ever. After twenty years of transition from socialism to democracy, taken over by totalitarian metastases..."

Sharp Flew over a Cuckoo's Nest | Patricia Nikolova,, 07.12.2010 


"At the threshold of the new decade Alexander Morfov returns to Bulgarian stage with a production and a title - a bullseye shot, particularly in regard of the newly voted budget for 2011 and the newly announced plans for reform in the theatre system. His social gesture of publicly calling the Bulgarian Prime-minister a populist and an underqualified guard is in full harmony with the artistic gesture of interpreting "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" as a play about the clash between the man and the System. From the classical adaptation of Wasserman Morfov selects only those parts that systematically outline the origination of the desire for freedom and its price."

Give me Liberty or Give me Death | Elena Peneva,, 10.12.2015