The first large
theatre was the Thalia Theatre, then the People's
Theatre, and the Windsor Theatre. Together with the
large mass of immigration there came Yiddish actors,
actresses, writers, and musicians from Romania,
Russia and Poland.
German Jews, who then had represented the Jews in
America, wanted to disturb the Yiddish theatre,
threatened the Yiddish actors, that they will be
expelled from the country if they will play Yiddish
theatre. Their arguments were that it was a shame
and a mockery to speak publicly in a plain Yiddish.
But they remained at their position, and the Yiddish theatre grew together, along with the
large, Jewish immigration.
The immigration with
the Yiddish theatre developed from day to day
materially and artistically, with its stars, with
good acting. The dramaturge Jacob Gordin with his
plays gave a literary value, and he also excited the
THE SECOND PERIOD
The first period gave
us stars and a Jacob Gordin. The second period gave
plays, original Yiddish plays. There came Libin,
Kobrin and then Dymow, Leivick, Sackler, Gottesfeld,
Bimko, and each new offering from a new dramaturge was a
Who doesn't remember
the simkha that occurred with Osip Dymow's "Bronx
Express"? With H. Sackler's "Yiskor," with Leivick's
"Shop," with Chone Gottesfeld's "Who Will
Die?," and "American Chasidim"?
This theatres were
built. Jews fled to the theatre -- today an
operetta, tomorrow a drama.
The first period
lasted about twenty-five years; the second period --
around thirty years. In the first period they
discussed the stars, and in the second period --
also already about plays, but those two periods were
THE THIRD PERIOD
Now we live in the
For this writer it is
hostile to write about this. It now is the "downhill
period," and we are going downhill so quickly!
I created over the
last years of the first period when the Yiddish
theatre evolved day by day; also the entire glorious "golden period." With my brilliance and
splendor, that's why my heart is so heavy. One does
not want to believe that this all happened in the
last century, something like a past event. Behold,
it seems, at first not long after Jacob P. Adler had
reigned with his majestic appearance, with his
dramatic tenor, the eternal Yiddish King Lear. There
sounded to my ears the tenor of David Kessler's 'Mizmor
l'Dovid' in "God, Man and David"; it seems that it
was not long before Boris Thomashefsky appeared in
his "Broken Violin," "The Cantoress," and
Yushkevitch's "The King." Thomashefsky was the
fantasist who made all his dreams come true.
And here I see Jacob
Gordin sitting in a coffee house with literati,
actors, and they are arguing over his new play.
Though every play by
Jacob Gordin was like a holiday in the city, it still
rings in my ears the Psalm narrations of Madam Keni
Lipzin in "Mirele Efros"; and it stands before
my ears the glorious figure of a Mrs. Kalich and the
up-and-coming stars, such as Morris Moshkowitz,
Tornberg, Katzman, Blank, Rosenstein, Mrs. Prager,
and Ludwig Satz.
It is true that their
deaths cannot be restrained, but our living stars,
those who they have approached are not, after all.
And where has Maurice
Schwartz disappeared to? Schildkraut? Ben-Ami? Where
One often hears this
criticized and calculated, whose fault the virtual
collapse of Yiddish theatre is. Everyone gives their advice, and everyone throws the blame one on
another. But the greatest blame for the "downhill"
of the Yiddish theatre, is, per my opinion, is the
language. The desire to please the English
[-speakers] and attract the young people has lost
the fine Yiddish that has developed in recent years,
as it has been turned into a crippled English.
It is possible that
the greatest critic of the speakers of English on
the Yiddish stage are the youths, the younger
generation who come to the theatre, about whose
grandparents, father and mother have told them about
sung for him. The true Yiddish melodies with true
Yiddish humor is disappointing for the Yiddish
theatre, where they come to find that there is a
crippled English, in an afternoon of jazz melodies.