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You Can Go Home Again, Soviet Style

January 10, 1987|DAN SULLIVAN | Times Theater Critic

Exiled Soviet director Yuri Lyubimov, rehearsing his production of "Crime and Punishment" for Washington's Arena Theatre, says that he might go home to Moscow, if asked--and that there are signs he will be.

Lyubimov, 68, ran Moscow's Taganka Theatre for 20 years, marked by critical acclaim and frequent conflict with the Soviet Ministry of Culture. In 1984, after publicly criticizing some officials by name, he was told to leave the Taganka and the country.

Now, he told Washington reporters last week, he is getting signals from home that under the new Soviet policy of glasnost , the government is willing to reconsider the issue. On Oct. 22 a delegation from the Taganka wrote to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev asking for his return, and Lyubimov says he's received several quasi-official phone calls indicating that an accomodation could be reached.

"I would be happy if this served as the beginning of a dialogue with (all Russian artistic) emigres," Lybubimov said in a telex to Gorbachev last month.

"One thing they could do without my being there," he told the Washington Post's David Richards, "is to restore my good name."

INCROYABLE! Dominique Goy-Blanquet reports in the Times Literary Supplement that "Shakespeare today is decidedly France's most successful playwright, a position which Moliere had held unrivalled for some 300 years. He has three major productions on at the moment in Paris--one in Moliere's own house, the Comedie-Francaise--and three more are due to open in the coming weeks.

"Indeed he is so much at home in France that a young director, Daniel Mesguich, maintains that Shakespeare was a Frenchman, called Guillaume Branlelance, whose name and work were surreptitiously stolen by an anonymous translator who took all the credit himself."

As plausible a theory as some we've heard.

HIGH-SCHOOL THEATRE: What are the most popular plays in high-school theater? People Today reprints a chart from "Dramatics" Magazine indicating that the champs are: "You Can't Take It With You," "Bye Bye Birdie," "The Miracle Worker" and "Our Town."

Not nearly as enterprising as the lineup for this weekend's 16th annual Southern California High-School Theatre Festival at Occidental College's Thorne Hall. Last night Palisades High School did "Viet Rock." Tonight Palm Springs High School does "Noises Off." Sunday afternoon San Diego's Patrick Henry High School does Steven Berkoff's adaptation of "The Trial." (Information at (619) 421-9231 or (818) 363-2663.)

REACH OUT: Last week's column mentioned nonprofit theater's need for corporate support. One company that's responding is American Telephone & Telegraph. South Coast Repertory lists the AT & T Foundation as "honorary producer" of its new show, "Three Postcards." San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre thanks AT & T for a "generous grant" for its current staging of Woody Allen's "The Floating Light Bulb." And next week is supposed to bring an announcement from AT & T regarding Los Angeles theater. Bravo.

American Express can take a bow, too. Its Travel Related Services branch last week announced that it will reimburse some 100 theaters for the cost of tickets ordered by American Express card holders through the Chargit telephone-order system, money that's been held up since Chargit filed for bankruptcy last month.

Susan Myerberg, general manager of Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre, thanked the company for "assisting us in this very difficult situation." The offer could cost American Express up to $1 million.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK--Playwright Terrence McNally in the New York Times: "Until a script is ready for a director, it is self-defeating to give it to him. If it is not your play yet you can't blame him for making it his."

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