To the editors:

Once again, Lewis Lazare gets it wrong in pursuit of the dirt. I should have known better than to even talk to the guy. He misquoted me, just to give things a little more dramatic punch, more punch than they deserved [The Culture Club, March 22]. I never said there wasn’t a theater movement here anymore–what I said was, there doesn’t seem to be as much movement in the theater movement as there used to be. Maybe not a big difference, but big enough to me.

There is definitely still a theater scene in this town, I’m just not sure that it’s quite as vital or well-fed as it was a few years ago. It’s funny that Lewis refers to it as the theater “industry”–and maybe there’s something to that. I think it was more like a “community” not so long ago, and maybe now it is more like an “industry”–which I don’t think is really a good thing.

Just about every theater artist in Chicago leaves town eventually, even if only for a little while–it’s pretty much always been that way, it probably always will. The “exodus” isn’t new or nearly as dramatic as Lewis thinks.

I’ve been here ten years now–and most of the truly great theater I’ve seen in my life has been right here, born and bred in Chicago. Pretty much everything I’ve learned as a playwright, I’ve learned here.

For all rights and purposes, this is my adopted hometown–and right now, at this point in my life, it’s just time to move on for a little while. And that’s not news, not even the gossip column variety.

Lewis made me feel like I walked into somebody’s living room, ate a big bowl of sour grapes–and pissed on the rug.

Rick Cleveland

N. Glenwood

Lewis Lazare replies:

Rick Cleveland knows as well as I do that I went over with him line by line the item on his departure from Chicago and that I made substantial changes at his request. I appreciate his contributions to the theater in Chicago through the years, but I regret that he did not have the courage of some of his convictions about the theater community here when he saw them in print.