In the 1980s, writer Martin Boris set out to
write a book1 about Yiddish acting great Maurice
Schwartz. In order to gather information for this book, Boris set
out to interview a number of Yiddish theatre people to gather
information about Schwartz and his Yiddish Art Theatre troupe.
One interviewee was the great Luba Kadison
(wife of Yiddish acting great Joseph Buloff, both of whom were once
members of the famed Vilna Troupe.)
Martin Boris conducted and recorded an
interview with Luba.
The Museum of Family History, of which the
Museum of the Yiddish Theatre is part of, has acquired these
recordings from his gracious widow and is making available to you
sound clips and/or texts or transcripts of these interviews in a
piecemeal fashion, as they are being created.
Luba Kadison, a native of Kovno born in 1907, was a prominent
Yiddish actress who performed in Yiddish theatres all over the
world. During World War I, the Russians ordered all Jews to
leave Kovno within twenty-four hours. From there, she and her
family traveled by train to Vilna, where they began life anew.
While living there, Luba became a member of the Vilna Troupe.
Luba eventually married fellow actor Joseph Buloff. Please click
on the link to access a short biography of his career in the
Vilna Troupe and How Luba Kadison and Joseph Buloff Came to the
United States" (1 min, 10 secs)
”The Vilna Troupe was a very special theatre. It was a unique
theatre of advanced Yiddish theatre in the language--and also in
the repertoire that we played--that was actually a theatre, a
cosmopolitan theatre in the Yiddish language--because we played
not only Yiddish plays. We played Yiddish plays, we played in
Hebrew, we played Peretz Hirshbein, but we also played Russian
plays like Andreyev, like Gorky, Nadir, and other plays, and
even French plays--we played “The Miser” of Molière… "We
were…the Vilna Troupe was like a family. And I grew up there…my
father (Leib Kadison) was already in the States. The Vilna
Troupe parted…not parted, but there were a couple--Alexander
Asro and Sonia Alomis--who left the Vilna Troupe. There was a
love story involved, and they formed a second Vilna Troupe. And
they started to pull out actors from the original Vilna Troupe
which was at that time in Rumania, in Bucharest...."
Kadison in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" (2 mins, 10
In 1949, Joseph and Luba obtained the rights to produce a
Yiddish version of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" with
the intention of taking it on tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
During these post-war years, there was a large and enthusiastic
Jewish population eager to see and hear Yiddish productions.
Luba states, "You know we played "Death of a Salesman" in
Yiddish, and that was in 1951 in Brooklyn, and Joe got the
rights from Arthur Miller to produce it in Buenos Aires. I
couldn't come with him, and then he came here, and he produced
it here in... and it was called the Rolland Theatre. And Miller
gave the rights, and the producer said okay, we want to do it.
But before us there was a musical, and we were scared stiff. We
come to Brooklyn with "Death of a Salesman," a serious play, and
a sad play, and...we had an audience, "How did it go?" But we
took the risk..."
1 -- Martin Boris
passed away before he could publish his biography of Schwartz, "Once
a Kingdom." However, the Museum of Family history has published
it online, and it is available for you to read in its entirety. He
has written other articles about the Yiddish theatre, and they too
can be read on the Museum's website. Just search the website under
his name, "Martin Boris."