Aleksandr Slavutsky after return from Marseille: ‘Nobody will get hurt because of the Kachalov Theatre’

The head director explained why he didn’t cancel plays and put the artists in quarantine

Aleksandr Slavutsky after return from Marseille: ‘Nobody will get hurt because of the Kachalov Theatre’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Unlike opera artists who were back from a tour to the Netherlands and were put into quarantine altogether, actors of the Kachalov Theatre kept working. Meanwhile, according to our information, there are people who contracted the virus. Head Director Aleksandr Slavutsky and Head of the Republican Anti-Coronavirus Quick Response Team, Vice Premier Leyla Fazleyeva are urging not to sow panic.

“Why should we cancel the theatre’s plays with the tickets sold?”

When the coronavirus was victoriously marching across Europe in early March, the Kazan Academy Russian Big Drama Theatre headed to France where it opened the 25th jubilee festival of Russian art in Marseille. As the theatre’s press service said, there was a full house, “a French-speaking audience prevailed among the spectators”. The artists were back on 9 March and performed in front of spectators and began rehearsals the next day.

According to Realnoe Vremya’s sources, two artists from the company fell ill upon arrival in Kazan and were delivered to the hospital for infectious diseases. One of them even performed a play with a high temperature. But the hospital’s officials refused to comment on the situation through the press service of the Tatarstan Ministry of Health.

The Kachalov theatre itself doesn’t see any reason to stop performances of the artists who returned from Europe where COVID-19 is wreaking havoc.

“We are lucky, we managed to return until France closed, until our government announced anti-coronavirus measures. We went through thermal imaging at the airport. I think everything is fine, we are keeping an eye for it,” Head Director of the theatre Aleksandr Slavutsky who went to Marseille together with the company told Realnoe Vremya.

When the coronavirus was victoriously marching across Europe in early March, the Kazan Academy Russian Big Drama Theatre headed to France where it opened the 25th jubilee festival of Russian art in Marseille. Photo: theatre’s press service

According to our information, you have two ill artists.

No, the information is incorrect.

The coronavirus incubation period lasts for two weeks, while you already performed plays the next day.

So you are medical experts, and we are stupid, illiterate people! We took all measures the government is asking to, we did what other theatres are doing. Four air recirculators that kill all microbes work in our hall, we have hand sanitisers, all handles, shelves and other surfaces are wiped three times during a play. We are taking the employees’ temperature. If somebody is ill, it means he or she will be ill. We will see. But there is nothing so far. Somebody had a runny nose, but it is nothing. Nobody has coronavirus symptoms. I think everything will be okay. We arrived on 9 March, count how many days have passed. The government wants to reduce the quarantine term now. The incubation period is 5-6 days. This is done just in case. It is correct, one should on the safe side.

Nevertheless, the opera theatre is in quarantine.

Don’t forget the difference between us and the opera theatre. Firstly, our hall is small — for 500 seats. Secondly, they are back from the Netherlands, they don’t have any repertory here. They can’t work because they don’t have performances, while we have plays sold — should we all of a sudden stay idle? It is comfortable today — one can go abroad, be back and have a two-week holiday… I think nobody will get hurt because of the Kachalov theatre. People are coming, nobody is afraid. Look at what’s done: people go to shopping malls, markets, café, communicate. People talk here less than they do there… We are making sure that no spectator is sneezing, nobody is ill. Our administrator is dealing with it. Our spectators and artists will be healthy until I am alive. Panic is a very bad, an awful thing. Why should we cancel the theatre’s plays with the tickets sold? To start panic in the city? Our theatre is one of the most visited theatres. I think it will be politically wrong. We should create conditions to continue our activity.”

Nevertheless, Slavutsky noted that the coronavirus made its amendments to the theatre’s life. For instance, tours to Sochi and Moscow were cancelled, the Kachalov artists were to show their works within the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of TASSR. They were also going to travel to China. The company planned to go to Beijing in late July — early August, while the requisites were to be sent earlier — three months to the tour.

“We have everything signed, but we didn’t have the time to pay. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent us a letter with a recommendation that we should wait, we considered this is a guide to action. We don’t know how everything will be developing,” Slavutsky claimed.

“We are lucky, we managed to return until France was closed, until our government announced anti-coronavirus measures,” Aleksandr Slavutsky claimed. Photo: theatre’s press service

Both companies under control

Head of the Republican Anti-Coronavirus Quick Response Team, Vice Premier Leyla Fazleyeva urged not to sow panic. She explained to Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent that the Russian drama theatre returned to the capital of Tatarstan until flights to seven European countries were limited and quarantine was declared.

“Don’t worry, they are all fine. A medical examination is underway. We are checking every day, we aren’t leaving anybody unattended,” the vice premier said.

By Eleonora Rylova