Rick Cluchey, playwright, actor, and friend of Samuel Beckett, died December 28, 2015, near his home in Culver City, California.
Cluchey’s legacy could have been more limited, like “Rick Cluchey, convicted felon,” were it not for Samuel Beckett’s indirect intervention in the form of a 1957 performance of Waiting for Godot performed in the notorious San Quentin State Prison. Cluchey identified with the characters, theme, and tone of the play and was inspired to write his own plays from his cell, and to perform with the newly created San Quentin Drama Workshop.
Cluchey’s redemption led him to dedicate his life to drama workshops for inmates, speaking against the harshness of incarceration, and to interpreting Samuel Beckett’s work. Beckett and Cluchey developed a fond and symbiotic relationship, with Cluchey traveling the world to perform Beckett’s work, and Beckett taking a personal interest in Cluchey and his family.
Cluchey’s last public theater performance was Krapp’s Last Tape here in Chicago in May 2013.
DePaul University Special Collections and Archives holds the Rick Cluchey Papers. The papers include biographical files, correspondence with Samuel Beckett, and productions written by Cluchey. For additional information on the Rick Cluchey Papers, please contact DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives at email@example.com or stop by our department in the John T. Richardson Library, Room 314.
See also our May 2013 post about Cluchey’s visit to DePaul: Rick Cluchey at DePaul to Speak; Cluchey Papers in DePaul Archives.