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Rep Disses Locals

To The Editors:

Perry Tannenbaum's review of Charlotte Rep's production of Proof (CL, May 1) strongly suggests that Steve Umberger's departure from the organization was involuntary. This has been rumored within the theater community for quite awhile, so that came as no surprise. What did surprise me was an examination of the upcoming season brochure for Charlotte Rep, and that, combined with the implications of Tannenbaum's review, raises a number of questions.

For the record, I have a nodding acquaintance with Steve Umberger. We have served on a theater panel together, and I read with him once at an audition for the Rep. I mention these to make it clear that this is not written out of having any particular ax to grind. His work speaks for itself. He is a wonderful director, and though he won't be directing for the Rep, an artist of his caliber will have no difficulty in finding work.

What disturbs is not that Umberger has apparently been summarily severed from a company he helped found, but that with his departure the native theater community in Charlotte has been dissed again. Umberger's professional life has been spent in this town, and time and again he has staged important plays for the Metrolina area using its prolific local talent. The new Rep administration seems to have confused their mission with that of the Broadway Lights Series. The idea that importing second-rank Broadway performers will significantly raise the artistic bar for a theater that has staged outstanding productions of Angels In America, The Exact Center of the Universe, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Proof, among many others, is insulting. Moreover, what does this casting have to do with a theater that still calls itself "Charlotte" Rep? It seems to me that a theater that casts non-Carolina actors in the major roles of its upcoming season has forfeited the right to the name. Finally, in what sense is the Rep a repertory theatre, either in casting or production schedule?

None of this would matter in the least if Charlotte Rep did not receive public funding. It would then be another commercial venue, entitled to do any damn thing it pleased. But at a time when all arts organizations are struggling to maintain themselves in Charlotte, the transmogrification of Charlotte Rep into Anytheatre, Anytown USA is lamentable.

I am aware that the new administration has ties to Charlotte. Umberger had artistic committment. There is a difference.

Simon Donoghue

Director of Theatre

Belmont Abbey College

Take The Test

To The Editors:

Since the subject matter was so disturbing, I can't say I enjoyed Tara Servatius's article "It's A Crapshoot" (CL, April 10). However, it was an excellent piece of investigative journalism. Did anyone happen to notice the Quick Takes from the local section of the Observer on Thursday, May 2?

"A sewage spill near Lake Cornelius Wednesday prompted Mecklenburg's first no-swimming advisory of the year. An overflowing manhole from a blocked sewage line near the end of Holiday Lane in Cornelius sent an estimated 3-4000 gallons of sewage into a ditch that leads to the lake. Water samples to measure the amount of fecal bacteria are expected today.The signs will remain in place until bacteria levels are considered safe."

Strange that so many spills went untested and so many residents went unnotified until Tara's article. Kudos to Citizen Servatius.

Jeremy Stroud


Keep On Caring

To The Editors:

Nice work by Tara Servatius on the spilled sewage report ("It's A Crapshoot," April 17), and congratulations on the courage to follow that with a counter to the retraction BS. Until your report, I had heard nothing about sewage spills and the joke enforcement. Not surprising, really, with the likes of Bill and Debi clogging the airwaves. Keep up the good work. And keep caring. Will Tara be running for City Council anytime soon? I'd vote for her.

Eric Nelson


Nauseating SUVs

To The Editors:

I wholeheartedly agree with Lucy Perkins' excellent column "Highway to Hell" (CL, April 24). It's one thing for people to be unable to see the forest for the trees. That is bad enough. But to be driving on highways and byways in a small car while constantly being engulfed in a seemingly endless sea of SUVs is claustrophobic and utterly suffocating. It's little wonder that so many people arrive at home and work feeling dour and nauseous, with their minds mired in dense fog.

Gary W. Baker


I'm Not Like Lucy

To The Editors:

Lucy Perkins' article "Highway to Hell" (CL, April 24) was grossly mis-titled. Far more appropriate would have been "How I Turned Economic Penis Envy into a Paying Job." After all, the entire article was about her resentment against folks with SUVs. She, on a teacher's salary, apparently cannot afford an SUV.

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