In her article of Nov. 22 {Show}, Zelda Fichandler obscures the main issue and fails to answer a central question: namely, why does the Arena Stage acting company not include blacks and why, with a rare exception, has this been true for many years? We welcome visiting productions such as "Joe Turner," but the overwhelming number of performances our community sees at Arena are those by an all-white company. This amounts to theatrical apartheid.

Nontraditional casting has existed for years at a number of theaters. In 1966, I was a playwright-actor member of the Guthrie Theatre Company. I recall that a black actor played the role of the brother in the Guthrie's two-part production of Strindberg's "Dance of Death." He played it well and was well received. More recently, this community saw Peter Sellars' staging of several plays with blacks and Asians, and in "Ajax," the title role was played by a deaf actor. It all worked well.

But before a company can cast minorities, it must include them in its membership. Arena Stage now has none in its acting company. I and others in the theater community consider this to be artistically and socially irresponsible.

MARK BERMAN Germantown