Why have you turned your back on the metropolitan theater community? It was bad enough that David Richards, who could be counted on for the depth of his understanding of the theater in general and Washington theater in particular, was leaving. Joe Brown's insightful Weekend section column was stricken. And now, nothing, or very little.

Since your job is to communicate, could you let us know, even if it's only in the Personalities column, who (if anyone) is going to come aboard to cover the wonderful theater season that has just begun?

-- Cathy Smith The writer reviews theater for the Prince George's Post.

While it is laudable and perhaps necessary that you have expanded coverage of the music and club scene in the Weekend section, you have done the local theater community a great disservice. With the absence of Joe Brown's Backstage column, we are left wondering just how trivial you consider us.

Brown's column gave theater organizations (especially the smaller ones that your former theater critic David Richards rarely looked at) a sense of belonging, a validation of worth to the community and, most important, a better chance of survival in an ever-tightening budget-conscious city.

Interviews, backstage horror stories, fund-raising announcements, even birth and death announcements were all part of Brown's column. Now, a photo with a short caption is the only evidence in the Weekend section that theater exists in the District.

Brown now writes for the club scene in Weekend along with a handful of other writers. We need him more. Please put Joe Brown and his Backstage column back where they belong. -- Kevin Murray The writer is co-director of the Smallbeer Theatre Company.