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Habimah Cancels Madrid Performance; Seen As Setback to Relations with Spain

Habimah, Israel’s national theater, has canceled scheduled performances in the Madrid Autumn Theater Festival next month, which Israeli and Spanish officials agree could threaten to set back the development of cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The reasons given here for the cancellation vary from a dispute over who would pay the expenses of the Israeli troupe to a last minute change of program.

Whatever the cause, there have been angry reactions in government and theatrical circles here.

The Madrid Festival, which begins Sept. 21, is considered a major international cultural event that attracts leading artists from many countries.

Habimah was scheduled to perform “The Dybbuk,” but a dispute arose over an alleged commitment by the festival organizers to pay the return air fare of the Israeli troupe and the air freight for the stage sets.

The Spaniards were also supposed to have picked up the hotel bills and other expenses.

According to another report, Habimah told the Spanish organizers that they could not perform “The Dybbuk” because certain members of the cast could not make it to Spain.

It was suggested then that Habimah perform another play, “Adam.” But several days later, the Israelis cabled that they could not stage it on the dates previously agreed on.

Jose-Maria Gonzales Sinda, the leading producer and director of this year’s festival, accused Habimah of unprofessional conduct and unfair attitudes.

One potential area of trouble is the long delay of a decision by Israel to participate in “Expo ’92,” a major international exposition to open in Seville in April 1992.

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