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Rick Cluchey at DePaul to Speak; Cluchey Papers in DePaul Archives

by Matthew Morley 5/2/2013 9:18:00 AM
One of the most famous theater performers and interpreters of Samuel Beckett, Rick Cluchey, will be speaking at the The Theatre School at DePaul University, located at 2135 N. Kenmore Ave. in Lincoln Park onSan Quentin Drama Workshop promotional image, Rick Cluchey papaers Monday, May 6, 2013 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Cluchey will speak for the first 50 minutes, which will then be followed by a 30-minute Q&A period. This event is open to the public.

You might be wondering, who is Rick Cluchey, and why is he a famous actor? Cluchey donated his papers to DePaul University Special Collections & Archives.  The papers include biographical files, correspondence with Samuel Beckett, and productions he’s written.  The archival material provides a detailed chronology of Cluchey’s life in theater and in reading through his letters and scripts, one begins to get the sense that drama allows the viewer to get a feel of what life is like; it allows us to experience a story that is indicative or representative of reality. And at the same time, Cluchey’s ambition speaks loudly about the role of drama and the importance of theater in both contemporary society and in Rick Cluchey’s life.
Letter to Rick Cluchey from Samuel Beckett, 1974, Rick Cluchey papers
But Rick Cluchey wasn’t always an actor; in 1955, he was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison. In 1957, the San Francisco Actors Workshop came to the San Quentin Prison and performed Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Inspired by the performance, Cluchey formed the San Quentin Drama Workshop, which generated a considerable amount of public support. After Cluchey’s sentence was commuted in 1966, he reestablished the San Quentin Drama Workshop outside of prison, which had gained popularity throughout the United States and Europe.

In 1973, Cluchey began writing a book about his journey from prison to acting; in the midst of writing the memoir, Cluchey realized how influential Beckett’s writings were in his life, and he began corresponding with Samuel Beckett, which produced to dramas such as Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame. Following in Beckett’s footsteps, Cluchey has written many plays, such as The Cage in 1965, a drama about prison life, and Homeland in 2002.
Playbill cover, The Cage, Rick Cluchey papers
While Cluchey’s career began in the early 1970s, he is still a prominent figure in modern theater. From May 1-12, 2013, Cluchey will present eight performances of “An Evening of Beckett: ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ and ‘Sam and Rick’” at the Shattered Globe Theatre (located at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont). This is a rare opportunity to be in the presence of a man who in turn was influenced by one of the greatest modern playwrights.

For additional information on the Rick Cluchey Papers, contact DePaul University Special Collections & Archives at or stop by Special Collections & Archives in the John T. Richardson Library, Room 314.

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