Emory doctor to lead talks about “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

The Alliance Theatre has partnered with the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences to host post-show discussions following most performances of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Dr. Mark H. Rapaport, chair of the Emory University Department of Psychiatry, and other Emory faculty experts who work in the areas of forensic psychiatry, treatment-resistant depression, ethical practices in the field, and other aspects of mental health will discuss a variety of topics looking at the changes and advances in treatment of mental illness since the 1960s. The conversations are designed to destigmatize mental illness and allow audience members to ask experts questions following performances.

The AJC recently connected with Rapaport for a Q and A about the show and the after-show discussions taking place after most performances.

Q: Many believe “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” had a lasting impact on the field of psychiatry? What do you think some of the impacts were?

A: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is the story of the individual’s struggle against an oppressive society and a 1960’s asylum is used as a metaphor for oppression and subjugation. The lasting impact of the play on the field of psychiatry has been to galvanize patients, families and healthcare professionals to fight stigma, prejudice and misconceptions about brain diseases and their treatment.

Q: The goal of Creative Conversations is to destigmatize mental illness. What do you hope comes out of these talks?

A: I hope that the Creative Conversations serve as an opportunity for people to ask any questions they have about brain disorders. I hope that we can help people understand that diseases of the brain, the most complex organ in the body, are not “weaknesses” but serious treatable disorders.

Q: How are some key ways the treatment of mental illness has advanced and changed since the 1960s?

A: We have made tremendous advances in understanding the biology of the brain and its impact on the rest of the body. Our knowledge of brain circuitry has expanded exponentially. We can demonstrate that our newer treatments: medications, evidence-based psychotherapies, somatic treatments ( ECT, rTMS, DBS) can actually normalize brain function. We know that there is a bidirectional relationship between the brain, mood, memory and the functioning of the body- high blood pressure, coronary functions, inflammation. We live in a wonderful “new world” of therapy for patients (and their families) with serious brain disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD and depression.

Q: If there is one thing audience members take away from this show, what would you want it be?

A: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a brilliant work of art- one that challenges all of us to respect individuals and their differences, one that reminds us of the importance and need in this world for compassion and understanding.


“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Shows through Sept. 20. Regular showings: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $20 and up, at www.alliancetheatre.org/cuckoo. Discounted rates for groups of 10 or more, military, seniors and students; call 404-733-4690. Special performance for school field trips: 11 a.m. Sept. 17. Information: 404-733-4661. Alliance Theatre, in the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4650, alliancetheatre.org.


Creative Conversations discussions will happen after every performance until Sept. 20 except each 2:30 p.m. Saturday performance (when the post-show discussions will be led by members of the “Cuckoo’s Nest” cast). The other exception is the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, show. Creative Conversations and other post-show discussions are free to “Cuckoo’s Nest” ticket holders.

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