A Czechoslovak playwright and actor who reportedly received instructions from his government not to participate in an international theater festival in Baltimore will still perform as scheduled, festival organizers said yesterday.
Bolek Polivka, scheduled to present "The Jester and the Queen" with his troupe this weekend, was reportedly en route to Baltimore yesterday and could not be reached for comment. But according to the director of the New York theater where Polivka had been performing, the internationally acclaimed artist received a cable Monday from Prague instructing him to skip the Baltimore festival and return to Europe.
"He decided to stay over a night to see if the thing would be resolved," said Terence Netter, director of the Fine Arts Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. When Polivka did not hear anything more from his government, Netter said, he decided to leave for the festival.
The cultural officer at the Czechoslovak Embassy said yesterday he could not confirm or deny the report that Polivka had received the cable.
"I can't comment on it right now," said Jaroslav Kubista. "I'm still waiting for information from Prague. As far as I know Polivka should be somewhere in New York."
Leslie Marqua, general manager for the Theatre of Nations, said that the group has not been contacted by the Czechoslovaks. "We -- Theatre of Nations -- never had any conversation at all with any representative of the Czechoslovak government," said Marqua.
"I expect him to arrive in Baltimore as scheduled and to perform in Baltimore as scheduled, and we are really excited he is going to be here," Marqua said.
The incident is the latest flap surrounding the 20th biennial festival, which is being held for the first time ever in North America.
The United States Information Agency revealed yesterday that earlier this month it withdrew $45,550 from a $125,000 grant awarded to the International Theater Institute, cosponsor of the festival, because of the organization's decision to drop a British production of "Animal Farm." On Monday, Frank Hodsoll, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, also criticized the "Animal Farm" decision, saying NEA never would have awarded a $25,000 grant to the festival if it had known the production would be pulled.
The play, an adaptation of George Orwell's biting satire of Stalinist Russia, was pulled because of Soviet objections.
A statement issued yesterday by the USIA read in part: "We deplore ITI's action. All international exchanges must be based upon freedom of expression, open discussion and tolerance for diversity. The International Theater Institute's recent action flies in the face of these principles."
Martha Coigney, vice president of ITI and head of the group's U.S. center, said she had seen the letter from USIA revoking the grant but had not seen the statement. "I really don't have any comment on it," she said. "I thought it was still a matter between the agency and ITI."
Wole Soyinka, president of ITI, called a press conference yesterday to defend the group's action. The principles of the International Theater Institute state that it "shall be guided by the principle of mutual respect of the national traditions of each country," said Soyinka, who is a Nigerian playwright.
His decision caused a storm of protest, much of it from Sir Peter Hall, director of the National Theatre of Great Britain, which produced "Animal Farm." Hall has called the decision "craven" and "an Orwellian fudge-up."