Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Eva Moskowitz Comes to Rockaway as Nurse Ratched

Here are my 2 columns I submitted to The Wave for publication on Nov. 6. My theater column and my school column, both tied in together. By the way - if you want to come see me play the inept doctor in charge email me.
Do we have any photoshoppers out there who can do an Eva as Nurse Ratched for me?

School Scope: Nurse Ratched in Guise of Eva Moskowitz Coming to Rockaway?
By Norm Scott

There is so much about authoritarianism at a mental institution in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and its theater and film adaptations that I am reminded of how so many schools are run. I just finished my Rockaway Theatre Company column for The Wave about the upcoming show so if this column also makes this edition of The Wave, read the 2 columns in tandem.

Rumors are floating around that the evil charter empire, known as Eva Moskowitz’ Success Academy Charter network, wants in on Rockaway gentrification to fuel their charter gravy train that funnels public money out of public schools and into private management. There is no better example of authoritarianism that Eva Moskwitz who is the Nurse Ratched of education – and proud of it.

For those not aware, Nurse Ratched, as Wikipedia states, “is the head administrative nurse at… a mental institution where she exercises near-absolute power over the patients' access to medications, privileges, and basic necessities such as food and toiletries. She capriciously revokes these privileges whenever a patient displeases her. Her superiors turn blind eyes because she maintains order, keeping the patients from acting out, either through antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs or her own brand of psychotherapy, which consists mostly of humiliating patients into doing her bidding.” Nurse Ratched engages in an epic battle with rebel inmate Randall McMurphy (Jack Nicholson in the movie). In polls, Nurse Ratched came in 2nd to The Wicked Witch of the North as the most evil female character in movie history.

I saw a Halloween photo of a teacher dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West wearing an Eva Moskowitz mask. This was not an exaggeration. People have termed conditions for some children at Eva’s schools as verging on child abuse.

In my last School Scope column I talked about the extremely high suspension rates of kindergarten children at Success Academy charters as exposed on PBS by reporter John Merrow, who used to love charter schools, until he found out how so many of them operate. Since they are bound by a lottery system, some unwanted kids may slip in. So they use extraordinary discipline procedures starting in kindergarten to force the unwanted young children into more and more frustrating acts and harass the parents daily, hoping they will remove the children from the school. The idea is cull the herd before the kids start taking tests that count. Thus you will find that an kindergarten class has lost 40-50% of their children by the 3rd grade when testing begins. Eva argues that these kids don’t fit the culture of her schools – so they are mostly tossed back into the public schools which has to take every child.

Eva retaliated against the child who appeared on the PBS report by releasing a history of his records, a violation of federal FERPA laws. But Nurse Eva always believes she is above the law. Funny thing is that that child ended up in the class of Jia Lee, who is running for UFT president against Michael Mulgrew on the MORE slate, and she loves the kid.

NY Times reporter Kate Taylor followed up her exposure of Success Charters back in May with a follow-up last week of a “Got to Go” list of kids the school was going to pressure to leave (http://tinyurl.com/pqbfckc). This article caused such a sensation, Eva was forced to hold a press conference with the principal of the school standing there and crying and issue a mea culpa that this only happened at one of her schools. In a pig’s eye it did.

A comment left on my blog by an anonymous parent stated: “They decided to start with younger and younger kids, so the communication of abuses would be harder to decipher. They decided to tell the parents one thing, and do another to the child. I once stood in the hall and listened to a dean yell so violently at a student (behind closed doors) that I couldn't even discern the infraction. The child was thoroughly convinced he had committed a sin so unspeakable based on her threats, that he was too afraid to report the incident to his parents, hoping the she wouldn't either. When you get detention for squeaking the rubber soles on the floor, or coughing. or sneezing in a disingenuous way; when you are taught that asking for help when you are told not to talk, is a level 4 "disrespect of a teacher" your world begins to change. Twilight Zone comes to mind.”

Twilight Zone or asylum?

Stuyvesant HS teacher Gary Rubinstein blogged “When You “Got To Go”, You Got To Go” about the situation, publishing comments of parents who left Eva’s Gulag: http://tinyurl.com/obdrzdf.

Come see the RTC production of One Flew Over the Kuckoo’s Nest and see the Nurse Ratched as the model of Evil Moskowitz.

Norm admits to playing his own version of Randal McMurphy to his Nurse Ratched-like Principal. He can’t stop blogging about Evil at ednotesonline.com.

Memo from the RTC: Nurse Ratched Comes to Rockaway
By Norm Scott

“A cold, heartless tyrant, Nurse Ratched has become the stereotype of the nurse as a battleaxe. She has also become a popular metaphor for the corrupting influence of power and authority in bureaucracies such as the mental institution in which the novel is set. Nurse Ratched was named the fifth-greatest villain in film history (and second-greatest villainess, behind only the Wicked Witch of the West)” …. Louise Fletcher won the Academy Award for her performance in the movie…..Wikipedia.

And I play Nurse Ratched’s superior (technically), a drug-addicted doctor, who she resents because if she weren’t a woman in this early 1960s story would be in control but is forced to manipulate her inept boss to maintain her iron-clad control. Lynda Browning is playing Nurse Ratched in the upcoming RTC production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as a follow-up to her astounding performance as Bella in last spring’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Lynda is so good she can turn on a dime from the sweetest person in the world while joshing with the guys backstage into one scary lady once we are on stage. Lynda also played the role 10 years ago when RTC did the play the first time.

The nurse engages in an epic and legendary battle with new inmate Randal McMurphy, a rebel who is feigning mental illness to get out of a prison sentence and thinks he can game the system. Jack Nicholson made his mark by playing the role in the movie, which so many people loved. I did too ¬– until I found myself in the less well-known play which has so much more impact than the movie did. (And I’m hearing the novel is even better.) RTC newcomer John Stillwaggon does not take a 2nd seat to Nicholson as McMurphy in this must-see performance. John is an experienced actor and in this case I would say he was born to play the McMurphy role.

And oh those people playing the inmates. What a cast of characters and top-level actors, some of whom don’t draw the line between acting and being crazy. But more on them next time. Oh, and the Frank Ciati designed and master builder Tony Homsey set is so reminiscent of a real mental institution – or a school, which if you read my School Scope column you will see the similarities. (Director Michael Wotypra, also a teacher, constantly reminds me that Nurse Ratched is just another version of so many supervisors we have seen in the school system.)

Opening night is at 8PM on Friday the 13th – yikes – with other evening performances on Nov. 14, 20, 21 and Sunday matinees at 2PM on Nov. 15, 22.

Norm blogs at ednotesonline.com

1 comment:

  1. You meant Wicked Witch of the West-not North


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