Mary Houlihan talks to renowned Beckett actor about the playwright's life and work
|Rick Cluchey, directed by Samuel Beckett in a 1984 London production of Waiting for Godot. Photograph: John Minihan|
This is the story of an inquisitive prisoner and a legendary playwright who would become unlikely friends and collaborators.
San Quentin State Prison seems the last place one would expect the avant-garde plays of Samuel Beckett to be appreciated. But Rick Cluchey is living proof that they were. He first encountered the Irish playwright’s classic “Waiting for Godot” in the mid-1950s as a 23-year-old inmate serving time for robbery and kidnapping.
It was the first play Cluchey had ever seen, and it changed his life. Performed before an audience of inmates by the San Francisco Actors Workshop, it inspired Cluchey and Kenneth Whelan to co-found the San Quentin Drama Workshop, which would lead Cluchey on a path out of prison to a life in the theater where he would forge a working relationship with the reclusive Beckett. [Read More]
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