This week, we are previewing ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST at Falcon Theatre by profiling several cast members in the show. Today we sit down with Nik Pajic who plays Billy Bibbit.
Hi Nik! Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. So . . .how did you get started in the theatre?
Like most of the things you discover you like, my introduction to theater happened the same way: on accident. I was studying Creative Writing and Judaic Studies at UC, and both subjects fascinated me consuming all my time and I really loved what I was doing. One day in an American Literature class, a professor of mine recommended to us that we all see this play that CCM was putting on called “Our Town”. The production of that play got me thinking about how impactful an art form like acting can be, and I wanted to be a part of it from that moment on. I actually made my theater debut in “Our Town” not too far from the Falcon, at the Footlighters Theatre, and I haven’t stopped acting since.
Can you give us an overview of your character, Billy, in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. How do you fit into the story?
I play Billy Bibbit, who is lumped into the Acutes, that is, the “presumably curable” category of the mental ward. Billy is somewhere around thirty in age, but behaves very much like a little boy. Billy shrivels up around conflict, wears bandages around his wrists where he has attempted suicide, and his most identifiable and teased feature is his persistent stutter. Of all these apparent traits however, Nurse Ratched spends the most time probing at Billy’s allusive relationship with his mother. In group therapy, Billy reveals that his mom is the cause of his suicide attempts. He says that his mom is ashamed of him “but she won’t admit it.” When McMurphy arrives to the ward, Billy initially proceeds with caution around him, but is soon mesmerized by Mac’s disregard for the rules, and contempt for Miss Ratched. Mac becomes a hero to Billy, who draws strength from Mac as the play goes on.
What’s it been like to work on this show? Any challenges you’ve faced? Anything you’re excited about? Things we should look for?
It’s been a lot of fun to watch everyone explore their role. While there is obviously some characterization written into the text, I feel that this play especially allows for each character in the show the freedom to discover and tweak their little quirks. The story provides a lot of possibilities to explore as actors, which I think will ultimately create a more engaged experience for the audience. There are a lot of poignant moments in the play where Billy acts as the catalyst to Mac and Nurse Ratched’s relationship, and the audience is asked to decide who exactly is trying to hurt Billy and who is trying to protect him?
After this show closes, what is next for you?
After this show, I’m heading over to Sunset Players where I will be playing Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, alongside the talented Meritt Beischel, Perter Merten, and John Funcheon. Based on the John Buchan novel and Hitchcock film, it has remained one my most favorite stories of all time. The play is turned into a romantic, spy-thrilling dramatic comedy (heavy on the comedy), full of deception, onstage plane crashes, and passionate goodbye-kisses, making for both a touching and hilarious evening of theatre. The show opens May 2nd, and I hope you join Hannay in his search for the truth, and The 39 Steps.
Come see “Billy” and the rest of the Cuckoo’s Nest cast beginning this Friday and Saturday and running through April 12th. Tickets are available here.