CLEVELAND, Ohio — Greater Cleveland has a new Equity theater: Beck Center for the Arts.
The move to join the Actors’ Equity Association, the powerful union representing American actors and stage managers, has been a long time coming for the theater housed inside the Lakewood arts complex, in operation, in one form or another, since the 1930s.
During a strategic planning session in the 1999-2000 season, members of the Beck Center’s board of trustees asked artistic director Scott Spence to share his vision for the new century.
“If we’re really going to distinguish ourselves and not just be one of two dozen or three dozen civic theaters in town,” said Spence, “I think we need to professionalize.”
As part of that process, Spence committed to hiring one or two professional actors per show each season alongside students in training and “avocational performers,” as Spence calls them, local talents who don’t make a living treading the boards.
He also became more selective about…