TEL AVIV (Jul. 14)
The Haifa Municipal Theater has been forced by intense public pressure to withdraw an invitation to British stage and screen star Vanessa Redgrave to appear in two performances of the play “Brecht in Exile” next week.
The actress, a longtime fervent supporter of Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization he heads, has often and loudly expressed anti-Israel sentiments.
But following the signing of the Palestinian self-rule accord last year, she indicated an interest in performing in Israel — but refrained from saying she had changed her mind about the Jewish state.
Expressing their firm opposition to any appearance by Redgrave, hundreds of subscribers canceled their memberships for the theater season, and the area around the theater building was covered with anti-Redgrave graffiti.
Less than a week before the scheduled performances of the docudrama about Brecht, fewer than 100 of the 1,600 advance-sale tickets available had been sold.
Haifa Theater head Oded Kottler, announcing the cancellation Wednesday, said that his decision to invite Redgrave had been the right one, but “as a public institution, we have to be sensitive to public feeling. The public was antagonistic and turned itself into a summary court martial.”