My last stage role was Charlie Cheswick in the Ottawa Little Theatre's production of One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. Charlie was a challenging character to inhabit. It took a deep level of concentration and the ability to unleash my imagination to be Charlie. Charlie was a voyeur; he started peering through windows to watch women undress as a child. As he matured, he made crude sexual advances toward women and voyeurism. Charlie did not fit into society, so much so that he checked himself into a psychiatric hospital. Charlie accepted the dull routines of the institution and the medication in exchange for a roof over his head and three meals a day. Charlie was creepy around women, but the reality was he never expected the women he approached to return his interest. When a nurse in the hospital got a little coy with him, he was panic-stricken. Charlie was all bluff and bluster when it came to chasing women. Despite his flaws, Charlie expressed his humanity by befriending and looking out for another patient. Martini was a war veteran with PTSD; he relived his wartime experiences through hallucinations. Charlie took care of him and calmed him when he had an episode. Charlie leered at women, but he loved Martini.
The production got good notices from the critics, who mentioned the "strong supporting cast" in their reviews. However, what I remember most about my performance is the evening after a show when a woman in the audience struck up a conversation with me. We chatted a few minutes about the play when she exclaimed, "You're nothing like the character!" It might have been my imagination, but I detected a note of disappointment in her tone. Well, no, I am not a voyeur, and no, I do not make crude sexual advances toward women.
Furthermore, I am happily married to my husband, Mika; we will celebrate twenty-four years together this week. Nevertheless, it was pleasing to hear that I gave a convincing performance as Charlie, someone who is a world apart from the man I am. It gives me the confidence I need as an actor to take on a character and bring him to life on stage and screen.