It's not that Des McAnuff isn't keeping busy these days. Now in his 14th month of working on Lee Blessing's "A Walk in the Woods," which opens Sunday on Broadway, McAnuff has found time between rehearsals to work on the 1988 La Jolla Playhouse season and is negotiating to direct a play in the Soviet Union this fall. One wouldn't expect him to be eager to take on another responsibility.
Still, when he heard about San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor's plans for a monthlong festival by Soviet Union artists, dancers and singers in San Diego in 1989 or 1990, McAnuff was eager to bring his expertise to bear. McAnuff has visited the Soviet Union several times, meeting with Soviet theater companies, and he is one of the first American directors to be asked to direct a play there.
But O'Connor's office contacted just one theater for advice about the proposed Soviet festival--the Old Globe Theatre. O'Brien, artistic director of the Old Globe, and O'Connor have "a good relationship . . . . They go back a long way," said the mayor's spokesman, Paul Downey. Besides, McAnuff was out of town.
McAnuff sent a letter to O'Connor anyway, offering his help, which Downey said the mayor will be glad to use as festival negotiations continue.
A San Diego delegation's trip to the Soviet Union has been postponed until late March or April.
In the meantime, another San Diego theater representative will take advantage of Soviet glasnost. Sam Woodhouse, producing director of San Diego Repertory Theatre, goes on a California Theatre Council/Citizen Exchange Council trip to Leningrad and Moscow March 6-17.
Back to McAnuff. The play he would most like to do in the Soviet Union is, of course, "A Walk in the Woods," the historically inspired fictional story of two arms negotiators from the United States and the Soviet Union who became friendly with one another. The play is being translated into Russian, but McAnuff doubts that the play will go over with Soviet officials.
The Soviet Union doesn't acknowledge that such a talk between two negotiators ever took place, he said, and "their image of officials is not a character like the Soviet negotiator, who wants the American to talk frivolously."