A troupe of Leningrad actors is stuck in a Times Square hotel, hoping a capitalist angel will deliver the half million dollars they were promised to stage a seven-hour epic on Soviet life.
The actors, members of Leningrad's highly praised, self-supporting Maly Theater, arrived in the city this week for a hoped-for star turn at the city's first "International Festival of the Arts.""Can you imagine the anger if anything of this kind happened to American actors in the Soviet Union?" Mikhail Stronin, the troupe's literary manager, said.
"It's a mystery to us," he said. "The troupe is shocked to the point of collapse because they could not imagine that in this rich city, in the richest country in the world, we could be the victims of this kind of mismanagement."
He said the troupe could not turn to its own government for help because of Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev's new "Perestroika" policy of economic restructuring.
"We are a self-financing institution, according to the new trend of perestroika. But we cannot pay the actors if we do not play."
Stronin told Reuters that the show would have been the first major Soviet production to be staged in New York since the Moscow Arts Theater's visit 30 years ago, and that the sudden absence of funds came as a bombshell to the troupe.
Ed Callaghan, a spokesman for the American producer of the cancelled show, said the troupe had not been abandoned.
"They're being well taken care of," he said. "We've been working day and night looking for funding. But some sponsors have not materialized."
Callaghan said that last October's Wall Street collapse had hurt arts funding. "The problem is that many of the individuals who would support this (production) are having to face up to the reversals of last October and November. The crash has taken its toll."
Callaghan added that the mammoth Soviet play had been allotted the largest single contribution by the Festival, which has a total budget of $8.5 million, but that it had proved insufficient.