ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  SONYA ALTBOYM


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City

 


 

Sonya Altboym
(Starodub)

 

According to Jonas Turkow A. came from Grodno, Polish-Lita. She was a teacher in Grodno. She had love for the theatre with every fiber of her feinfildndiker soul. Before going over to the Yiddish theatre she also participated in the Russian-amateur productions, and always strove to become an actress.

According to other information, she participated with Russian troupes (with Panov) in Mogilev, and in the Minsk municipal theatre, (with Michalovic and Dobroliubov). In Mogilev she also acted in a Yiddish drama circle, and in a Grodno Yiddish drama circle.

In 1921 she joined Warsaw's Central Theatre. In 1922 she played (with Moshe Lipman and Leyb Shriftzetser) in Vilna's Eden Theatre.

In 1923 she was in Vilna's Dramatic Ensemble, from which "VIKT" evolved, where she played until 1927.

In 1928 she was engaged to the Vilna Troupe, which was under the direction of Stein, where she played until 1932, joining the tour which went across Europe. Returning from her tour she played in Warsaw with Dr. Baratov, Ester Rukhl Kaminska, Misha and Lucy German, and in 1933-1934 she was engaged in Kovno.

 

 In her last years she was in an ensemble with Esther Rukhl Kaminska.

According to Zygmunt Turkow, in the first group of the future "VIKT, he also found A., who had married the actor Adam Domb in Vilna, in the production  of Dr. Ettinger's "Serkele" in the Central Theatre, where she had great success playing the role of "Freyde-Alltele.'

Later on A. participated in Vilna in the ensemble that Zygmunt Turkow had put together, and she excelled, especially as the daughter of an arendator (tenant farmer?) in the production of Sackler's "Yizkor."

According to Jonas Turkow A., who had taken a prominent place in Yiddish Theatre, together with her husband, went on a great tour with 'VIKT' across Poland and Romania. She also played in Lita [Lithuania] and Lettland [Latvia].

When on 19 October 1926 in the Kaminski Theatre, VIKT staged the adaptation of Goldfaden's "The Ten Commandments," A. participated.

Sonya in "Serkele."

     Sonya in "The Seven Who Were Hanged."

Jonas Turkow portrays her career and her tragic end:

"Sonya Altboym was a very talented actress, a beloved human being and a very wise person. In addition, she was beautiful, delicate and simple, very representative, had a fine natural tone and gevirkt (affect) ummmitlbar (immediate; direct) with her acting manner and serious attitude to her theatre mission. Already in her first roles, which she received in Ostrovsky's "Guilty-Not Guilty," and then in Andreyev's "The Seven Who Were Hanged," she strongly excelled. She created an entire gallery of wonderful forms, such as in Ettinger's "Esterkele" (Freyde-Altele), Goldfaden's "Two Kuni Lemels' (the marriage broker's daughter Libele), Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye the Dairyman" (Tseytl). After Ester Rukhl Kaminska's death, she took over in "Tevye the Dairyman" in the role of the "Mother Golde," in which she excelled, in one after another role.

When the war broke out, Sonya Altboym, together with her husband Adam Domb and their their wonderful, exceedingly good-looking daughter Liza, were found in Lemberg and worked there in the Yiddish State Theatre. Their twelve-year-old daughter Liza had displayed non-durkhshnitlekhe dramatic stage abilities. Despite her young age, they enrolled in the Lemberg theatre school, and they had great hopes for her.

When the Germans took Lemberg, Adam Domb was with the second-half troupe of the State Theatre in Rovne. He did not appear to return to his wife and daughter. Sonya Altboym, with her gorgeous daughter Liza went through all seven gates [?] of hell during the Nazi Occupation, when they took the Jews to the "famous" Lemberg process, where they were killed.

Both, Sonia as well as Liza, did not have a Jewish appearance, but a genuine Slavic type, with fardisene Russian gezelkh. They had all the chances to be saved as mchlumrshte Christians, if they would go away to another city where no one knew them. However, they did not believe in the possibility of a physical extermination of an entire people."

  • Jonas Turkow-- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Volume 2, pp. 83, 94, 148-156.

  • Zygmunt Turkow-- "Di ibergerisene tkuph," Buenos Aires, 1961, pp. 55, 64, 84, 156, 162, 197.

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4047.
 

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