The Russians are still coming

August 26, 1991

THE SOVIET troupe Theatre Buff from St. Petersburg/Leningrad will be able to fulfill its upcoming engagement at Baltimore's Theatre Project as planned.

Due to the recent upheaval in the Soviet Union, there was some doubt that Theatre Buff would be in Baltimore to perform its new show "Masquerade" Sept. 11 through Sept. 29.

Philip Arnoult, artistic director and founder of Theatre Project, said that he had received a fax saying that Theatre Buff's visa had been approved, allowing the troupe to leave St. Petersburg in time for its American booking. The group is due to arrive in Baltimore tomorrow.

"It was really hairy," said a weary Arnoult, who had been up all night trying to reach the Soviet consulate. "It was impossible to contact anyone over there. We had received approval for the company's visa from our immigration department six weeks ago, but Leningrad officials had not. I contacted the State Department in Washington, and they sent Leningrad a cable of confirmation late Wednesday. At 2 a.m. Thursday the cable still had not arrived. At 5 a.m. I was able to contact our embassy in Moscow. It was just luck I got through.

"At 10 a.m. Sen. [Paul S.] Sarbanes sent a cable of approval," he explained. "I contacted Theatre Buff and told them to go to the American consulate in Moscow and stay there until they got their visa.

"It is amazing," Arnoult said. "The hang-up had nothing to do with the coup. It was some confusion between our immigration service and Leningrad. But the troupe will be here on Tuesday to begin rehearsals and the show will open on time."

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