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   Organizations > Hebrew Actors' Union  > Auditions for Membership 1935

YIDDISH ACTORS UNION WILL GIVE
A PROBE TO TWENTY-ONE CANDIDATES


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on March 8, 1935
translated by Steven Lasky

It was decided to give probes this season to new actors at the next meeting of the Yiddish actors' union. The decision was given during the meeting of the Actors' Union, and those who will present themselves are expected to be welcomed. Also the Executive Board had a final slip with the names of candidates who will receive a probe. The slip consists of twenty-one names.

Among those who the Executive Board recommends for a probe can be found a number of actors who in the last few years have made a name for themselves on the Yiddish stage here and in Europe. They will have to experiment for their union colleagues with a couple of scenes, and afterwards the union of actors will vote. Those who will receive the needed number of votes will be taken into the union.

Those who the Executive Board recommends for probes were:

[Note that the names of Judith Abarbanel and Jacob Bergreen, which would bring the number of candidates to twenty-one, was not included in the original article.]

  • Maxim Brody

  • Ben Basenko

  • Jennie Casher

  • Chana Dubrovinsky

  • Misha Fiszon

  • Miriam Fine

  • Michal Gibson

  • Manya Schlossberg

  • Annie Ziegenlaub

  • Ben Zion Katz

  • Leib Kadison

  • Vera Rosanka

  • Michael Rosenberg

  • Max Kletter

  • Menachem Rubin

  • Mae Sultzberger

  • Esta Salzman

  • Rose Zelazo

  • Muriel Gruber

The first probe will be given on Tuesday, March 19. The second will be a week later, also on a Tuesday. The third probe will be given on Tuesday, April 2, the fourth on Tuesday, April 9. Reuben Guskin, the manager of the Actors' Union, declared that only members of the union, and only those invited guests, will be allowed into the probes.

 

STILL FOUR WHO WILL BATTLE PROBES
IN THE YIDDISH ACTORS' UNION


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on March 15, 1935

translated by Steven Lasky


In the "Forward" this past Friday there was mentioned that the Yiddish actors' union would give probes to twenty-one candidates. They were:

  • Judith Abarbanel

  • Jacob Bergreen

  • Maxim Brody

  • Ben Basenko

  • Jennie Casher

  • Chana Dubrovinsky

  • Misha Fiszon

  • Miriam Fine

  • Michal Gibson

  • Manya Schlossberg

  • Annie Ziegenlaub

  • Ben Zion Katz

  • Leib Kadison

  • Vera Rosanka

  • Michael Rosenberg

  • Max Kletter

  • Menachem Rubin

  • Mae Sultzberger

  • Esta Salzman

  • Rose Zelazo

  • Muriel Gruber

This week the Executive Board of the Actors' Union provided four [more] names. They were:

  • Avigdor [Victor] Pecker

  • Sonia Berman

  • Mr. and Mrs. Arco

The first probe will be given this coming Tuesday in the club room of the Union. Only members of the union and invited guests will [be in attendance].
 


THIS COMING THURSDAY THE FIRST PROBE
IN THE ACTORS' UNION


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on March 22, 1935
translated by Steven Lasky


This coming Thursday, the twenty-eighth of March, the first probe of the Yiddish actors' union will be held. Six candidates--four men and two women--will undergo their examinations, that for each of them they must make before he is taken in as a member into the union: Menachem Rubin, Michael Rosenberg, Manya Schlossberg, Max Kletter, Jacob Bergreen and Mae Sultzberger.

The probe will begin exactly at noon. Only members of the union and invited guests will be permitted in the union hall, 31 East 7th Street, where the examinations will be held.
 

SCENES AND IMAGES FROM THE
HEBREW ACTORS' UNION AT THE AUDITIONS
by Chaim Ehrenreich

published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on April 5, 1935
translated by Steven Lasky

Candidates taken into the union perform theatre, and the audience are actors
who must decide whether the audition maker should be playing theatre.

An actor, it seems, is an experienced theatre person. He knows, after all, all the "tricks" and is proficient in all the arts of the stage. And yet, by their auditions for the Hebrew Actors' Union, one could see that at times they are ordinary mortal men. He becomes fascinated by a strong scene, he applauds a good actor and he cries and laughs together with those who perform for him. He forgets at times that he is a "judge" here, that soon he will have to vote and give out verdict. He becomes a regular theatregoer.

The auditions at the Actors' Union are, as a matter-of-fact, "shows," productions with actors as "spectators." However, the typical "shows" come forth on a large stage with light effects and sets and as such is a production given on a small, naked platform. The audience does not sit in the dark, the hall in a .... mood. Even more: on the stage sits aside, the chairman, who brings forth each candidate.

 

THE EXAMINATIONS IN THE YIDDISH ACTORS' UNION
FOR NEW MEMBERS ONCE UPON A TIME AND TODAY


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on April 12, 1935

by Chaim Ehrenreich

translated by Steven Lasky

The great changes that have been made this time--the members express their interest in the probes, where they are the judges.


It has been three weeks straight since the Yiddish actors' union held a probe for the performers who want to be taken in, and still there is the interest in the ceremony that is called a "probe" and has not become agpeshvakht. On the contrary, it is many who disregard the union members today even more absorbed in the examinations than before. 

And behold:

Those who are familiar with the history of the union remember how difficult it was then for an actor to become a member in it. And however talented the candidate was, it was harder for him to be a "brother," or a "sister." In most cases, it was necessary to tackle the.. [oyskemfen dem areyntrit]. Not infrequently the press had to settle for a candidate, and be coerced that they should include him into the official actors' family. It was the actor--such as Maurice Schwartz and Gershon Rubin-- for whom the "Forward" iberhoypt its editor Ab. Cahan, had to give his word, before the union actors had agreed to get involved.

Years had passed, and the probes this season appears as radical, it reflected the mood in the Actors' Union. It doesn't mean to say that all the union members stood with open arms to take in every candidate. There are also now a number of actors from the old guard who are absolutely against taking in new members. This is the old, well-known song:

"The field of Yiddish theatre was a limited one. Actors went around without working (angazshmas), and no one new was allowed in the Actors' Union."

However, they are no longer the majority., that the actors, who were against "open tiren." In the last number of years there were to the theatre profession, and in the union, there has come up a great number of intelligent, hine-ertsoygene actors. Their perspective on theater is more sober and practical, although from the point-of-view can expect, from the point-of-view that you can expect from some people who do not know their own interest, for they want to join the union as well. The truth is that they know that the Yiddish theater must have younger, fresh power, new faces, as a person must have air. And that the youth also has a lot of impatience, but a lot of the older colleagues must be mild to the candidates.

We see, therefore, this kind of manner:

From the seventeenth actors who have up until today made a probe, there are fourteen who have been taken into the union. Of them--with one or two exceptions--nearly all young people need to be on the stage. The majority of them are talented actors. Many of them will have a great success in Yiddish theatre. It affects the heart to see many of them act, sing, dance. They brought a new vintel to them, a fresh tone, a lightness and flexibility that you see at the moment, and rarely with us in the Yiddish theatre.

The old guard was scared. Many of them were laughed at. They are nevertheless actors. And as actors they forget after a good probe and prejudiced gossip, give their "yes" and later, when the blood burns itself out, chapen zay zikh vos zay hoben obnemen, and they kochen zikh. They are a pathetic, a comical, a human rendering.

*  *  *

The director of the union receive deserved compliments. They are permanently neutral and pay attention, that the membership should feel that justice will be done at the probe on the stage. She is no longer a youth, and her voice is also not what it needs to be, although you can see that she has studied and possesses an understanding of the role. However, they must admit that the profession can itself can do without her. There are so many, and only a lot, in the union such as her. Do not halt a single mother role player and hoybt an areynshushken epes in oyer fun ir shchn. Drikt zi im oys ir meynung? Because she fulfilled her "expectation"?

The manager of the union, R. Guskin, noted the whispering, and with his main finger he runs to the actress. He doesn't say any words to her; he only gives her a look, and she understands this. She scratches herself and turns her head away.

Everyone knows that the candidates want to receive two-thirds of the "votes." However one hears it out of sight; they applaud zagar heflid. And the guest,  who arrived "agitated" for her, lazen arunter di kep. They feel that she is really not necessary. Tsu vos? The field is still limited to such as her. Would she have been young, she would have a great deal of talent,  if the result was different She is an entirely nish'ksh'dige actress. And this is not enough in current times.

* * *

For in the American language the words "sex appeal." It's a kind of advantage that not all people have. When a man or a woman has a special attitude for another kind [far'n ander min], they say that he or she possesses "sex appeal." Not every woman can do a lot with this passion, as actors say. It is for actresses who are special and blessed with this gift.

There are the "gentiles," [among whom] are many, many actresses who are overloaded with "sex appeal." As actresses they are perhaps  not so ay-ya-ya. Hence, it is that they only perform out on the stage, or appear on the "screen." The men begin with a glance of their eyes, and they begin a shtiken in the throat. With several actresses who are "at home" performing special "revues" and pictures. They are a "luck and blessing [mazl-brokhe]" for the light operetta, for the musical stage.

On the Yiddish stage there are less such actresses here. Yiddish actresses, who are playful and naughty, they should not be on the stage, it seems they are at the height of the mother's chastity. And if they at times evoke a few sinful thoughts, they keep these thoughts shemevdig, behind various excuses and interpretations.

They look forward to meeting [farentferen] these sinful thoughts, as it relates to the rudeness that grandfathers and mothers suffered in hardship.

At this year's probes there appeared on the stage of the Actors' Union actresses who possess it, this "non-Yiddish sex appeal." However, together with "sex appeal," they also possessed talent as a performer. They have taken the "public" by storm. When they made a probe, there are actors, already older people, some of them grandfathers with grandchildren, sat and listened from these places. And when the probe had ended, the "grandfather" passionately applauded and were the first to run and vote. Great is the power of "sex appeal." Who knows? In light of this, the actresses will be on Second Avenue after "buyers" come from Seventh Avenue, and fathers of married daughters on Central Park West.

*   *   *

From the young actor in the Actors' Union, there is steel and iron for free tiren, for "someone who needs to be in the union," comes an especially complimentary Zvi Scooler and Judah Bleich, the two talented actors. They anitiren for such candidates that can apply...[oyben-oyf ken zikh dachten], that they will concur with Scooler and Bleich, but the two young men maintain that:
"If they are actors, bring them to us. The Actors' Union nobody cares with jobs, she protects the interesting of that which was worked and seek assistance/look for a vote for that which doesn't work."

At every probe Scooler goes around throughout the hall and hit di "genger," the actors who are "open tiren," and tamer chapt he from them during the vinkt [has a look] to a union actor, he is greyt ihm durs tsu zayn.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that Scooler and his friend Bleich have contributed a lot to this, that many of the former "closed tirnikes" should be liberal, oyfheren shrenken zikh for new powers.

*   *   *

Last Tuesday they took movies and talkies at the probe. The holiday was even happier after the ceremony; not every actor for the "public" wanted to be in the picture. However everyone wanted to be. It was good that they did not know that they would take pictures. When they show [them], they will be without doubt not be surprised. 150 came, all three hundred to the probe. They would come from all corners of America. And all three hundred would want to sit in the first few rows, immediately in front of the camera.

Nevertheless the actor receives a compliment, they haven't been disturbed, faced the director and found out when they told them.

The "world cinema," which has taken pictures, will now show the world that the Yiddish actors' union will take in new actors.

*  *  *
 

THE YOUNG ACTORS WHO
WERE TAKEN INTO THE UNION


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on April 19, 1935

by Ch. E. [Chaim Ehrenreich]

translated by Steven Lasky

Who are they? --American girls and students who speak a good Yiddish, --A win for the Yiddish theatre


After one probe and this year's examinations in the Actors' Union having been completed, all-in-all the Yiddish actors' union has become larger with some ten new members, and the theatre world will be enriched with a number of talented, young actors.

It is a shame that the greater public cannot witness the probes. When they see locally born young girls and students speak a good, pleasant-sounding Yiddish as they say a Yiddish role, they must start to think that the future for actors in the Yiddish theatre is not yet at its end. It still has from where to draw acting material.

About this one wants to say a few words. One wants to hope that among them will be found several who will move forward onto the Yiddish stage.

There came out onto the stage a slender beauty, with a figure, who was strongly reminiscent of Berta Kalich in her younger years. No more, Mrs. Kalich's beautiful face is definitely Jewish, and opposite of that, the blonde girl's is entirely non-Jewish, German.

Her name is Mirele Gruber, and in the whole she is entirely eighteen years old. Thus everyone who knows her, with whom she has played in children's roles, is assured.

Mirele's mother was actually born a Christian with the "Pennsylvania Dutch." When she got married to Mr. Gruber (the manager of the Arch Street Theatre), she was pregnant, and until her death eight years back was a pious Jewish woman. After her death, the little Mirele had for a long, long time prayed over the candles every Friday night and was "a little mother," and with this kept the Yiddish in the house.

Gruber had his little Mirele sent to a Yiddish school, where she studied reading and writing. When, by him, they needed a child on the stage, Mirele played the role and played it with great temperament.

Her mother had wanted to play Yiddish theatre. However she had her dream, it never worked out. From time to time she sung at concerts, on the radio. For her Mirele, however, her mother's dreams are to be fulfilled. And if there is another world, Mrs. Gruber there will have shed enough tears of joy when her Mirele made her probe last Tuesday.

On the stage Miss Gruber showed how musical Yiddish can sound. She spoke simply, not needing the small-town dramatics, as in a finch's [?] inflated tones, which they often heard from provincial actors. Her voice was natural by itself, but somewhat soft and modulated, even when she began dramatically. It was a pleasure to hear her mamaloshn.

About her entire figure, her chastity and young girlishness was somewhat evident. The blonde hair, which was scrambled around her head, as a rife, the white collar around her black clothing, which had more greatly supported her correct blondness, the reticent hand movements that brought out the freshness and youthfulness that she brought out onto the stage.

She had not sung, she had not danced. She made her probe as a dramatic actress, and as such the young girl was taken into the union with only two negative votes, and all of them were caught up with the new actress, all of us.
Her own father, who was in the hall, had posed:

"She is still young; after a few seasons she should work with a good stage director. It's not easy to end up with roles that are not for her, and with praise that she first should earn."

Wise words for a father. But Mr. Gruber has already been involved with the stage for a long time, and he knows the hazards that stand in the way of a young artist on her way.

*  *  *

On the stage the actress emerges. She also is young and beautiful and a sight for the eye. She is an operetta actress; she sings and dances. She is, however, not blonde, but has a head of black hair.

When she speaks, there does not hover over the stage a mood of pure piety. She turns on her rage and rubs in the knife. When she sings a love song and begins to stiffen the dress on the way to a dance, it is easy on the eyes for the actors and for the actresses whose ambiguous smile glides on their lips.

The young actress is called Esta Salzman. She is born for the operetta stage. She will not accept one man from a legitimate wife--in a play.... in a theatre due to her youth and grace and wifely ways [?].

She was born in New York [Boston-ed]. Almost her entire family are contributors to the Yiddish theatre. Her brother and her father were "stagehands." By herself she was a chorister until this day. From time to time ,however, when an actress becomes ill, Esta Salzman plays her role. So the actors found out that Esta demonstrated talent and also that she was born with ambition to act in the theatre. When she did not have the opportunity to be a substitute for the other actresses, Esta Salzman would probably have remained a chorister her entire life, venigstens so long as her figure would allow.

*  *  *

The Josephson brothers, Sam and Sol, look like twins although one is a year older than the other. Young teenagers as quicksilver. The stage burns under their feet. With his quick , sharp movements, Sol is reminiscent of an Eddie Cantor. And he also has the same bistren look.

They were from childhood on the stage. And all the years they led the tramp life of the true actor, some as they made a living in operettas.

*  *  *

When you look at the probes of those listed and other young actors, you must admit that Guskin was justified when every year he held with the union that they had to have young, new blood in the union. The young hbrh (friends?), who entered the stage, their strength, their newness evoked interest.

And the critics who were next to have an opportunity to see the young people on the stage and plays, who can also judge their talent as actors, as champions of roles.

*  *  *

Last week in our article we had mentioned that the probes, "the old guard," the actors who were going to take in new actors, the manager of the union, R. Guskin, posted a comment:

"It is a surprise to know that no old guard is with us at all. Best of all are the probes. Each one of them who attended, will add that it was conducted justly.

However, he mentioned "the old guard." Once there was an old guard, actors who were against taking in new members. It is true that many of them were already dead, others over time had changed their minds. There is no offense, however, with the title, "old guard," and it has not been interpreted that way.

Also Jacob Wexler and Irving Honigman agreed with Guskin's remarks. In their view, they took up the honor of their organization, turned to these yearly probes. for which the union and every member received many compliments.

 

ONE PROBE TO WHICH EVERY THEATRE-GOER
WILL BE ABLE TO COME, MAY 21


published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on April 26, 1935

translated by Steven Lasky


Throughout the year in the Yiddish actors' union, probes have been made for actor who want to be members. The probes are interesting, as a production is in the theatre. They are a "show" in a "show." You see people on the stage who play theatre, and you see actors in a hall who play the role of judge of a jury, that must judge--let them in, or don't let them in.

This year there are already eighteen new performers who have been taken into the union. These were of the most interesting, and in many respects the most unacceptable probes that the union has had. It is only a pity that the great crowd of people did not know about it. But the theatre public will now get a one-time opportunity to attend. However there will always be a probe! Everyone who did make a probe and were taken in, who again "took the exam" will return to play the scenes that they had played in the Actors' Union. No more, what's going to happen in this large Public Theatre, wherein there may enter several hundred people. The ceremony, however, will actually be staged through the probes in the union. Guskin will say several words to the performers; Jean Greenfield who is president of the union, will "opine"; "watchers" and "tellers"; Max Friedlander will prompt the performer when he does it for the union. shortly the probe in the Public Theatre will be performed with every fixture.

And these will make probes again, according to the regulations that the union had created:

  • Menachem Rubin

  • Manya Schlossberg

  • Jacob Bergreen

  • Max Kletter

  • Michael Rosenberg

  • Jennie Casher

  • Misha Fiszon

  • M. Koenig

  • Anna Ziegenlaub

  • Rose Zelazo

  • Esta Salzman

  • Sam Josephson

  • Sol Josephson

  • Victor Pecker

  • Mirele Gruber

  • Leib Kadison

  • Yitzhak Arco

  • Noakh Nakhbush

At the probe Jacob Ben-Ami, Aaron Lebedeff, Jennie Goldstein, Samuel Goldinburg, Menasha Skulnik, Itzik Feld, Julius Nathanson, Joseph Buloff, Nathan Goldberg, Sam Kasten, Bina Abramowitz, Anna Appel, Helen Zelinskaya will be the judges.

The performers will sing their songs accompanied on the piano by the same accompanists. Rumshinsky will accompany his songs; Secunda--his; Olshanetsky--his.

And it will be on Tuesday, May 21, in the Public Theatre. Understand that the open probe will not be staged for "anything." It was arranged in honor of the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," and its editor Zalmen Zylbercweig.

 

 

 


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