Samuel Beckett Collection
Michael M. Egan III, an active board member of Chicago theater groups, has fostered friendships with many in the theater community. In 2004, he donated a collection of works by the playwright Samuel Beckett, many of which are inscribed or notated by Beckett himself. These titles came into Egan's possession from actor and playwright, Rick Cluchey, who collaborated with Samuel Beckett on performances between 1973 and his death in 1989.
Born in Chicago, Douglas R. Cluchey’s life took a tragic turn in March of 1955 when an accidental shooting occurred during the course of an armed robbery he committed in Los Angeles while under the influence. He was given a life sentence and sent to San Quentin Prison. In 1957, the San Francisco Actors Workshop staged a performance of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s, Waiting for Godot, at the prison. This event inspired Cluchey and other prisoners to request a prison drama program. Thus, the San Quentin Drama Workshop (SQDW) was born and the inmates were allowed to stage productions for fellow inmates.
In December 1966, Cluchey was released thanks to his victim’s willingness to step forward as an advocate. Following his release, Cluchey, along with other paroled members of the prison troupe, continued to follow their theatrical interests. Retaining the original name of the group, the San Quentin Drama Workshop was recreated outside the prison as a civilian theater company. Realizing the impact Samuel Beckett had in shaping his theatrical career, Cluchey wrote to Beckett in 1973 to discuss the SQDW’s Paris production of Endgame. Impressed with Cluchey’s journey from inmate to professional stage actor, Beckett and Cluchey began a relationship that yielded numerous theatrical collaborations.
DePaul's Special Collections and Archives also holds the Rick Cluchey Papers that contain additional materials related to these theatrical performances and his correspondence with Samuel Beckett.