The author of this
play, Nikolai Evreinoff (or Evreinov), was a Russian
director, dramatist and theatre practitioner
associated with Russian Symbolism. I've read that
this particular play was a great success in Poland.
According to the New
York Sun newspaper from 1 October 1926, the "Ship of
Saints" marked the return of Jacob Ben Ami to the
Yiddish stage, who had been acting on the English
stage for a time.
"The story concerns a
group of 'saints' who.... set sail on the Anchorite to form a new colony
on a Utopian, and ambitions seize hold of the
company, the plan comes to naught, and the
Jacob Ben Ami plays
the part of Vitali, the life force and gives one of
the best performances of his career is a difficult
role. Others in the cast are Gershon Rubin, Yechiel
Goldsmith, Boris Rosenthal and Stella Adler.
'The Ship of Saints'
is an indication of the new policy at the Irving
Place Jewish Art Theater. Forthcoming plays include
a revival of 'Samson and Delila,' 'The Idle Inn,'
'Hamlet,' and a new production of 'The Golem.'"
In a later edition of
the same newspaper, on 20 November 1926, remarks
about this play:
"Ben-Ami's return to
the Yiddish stage was to usher in art in the higher,
stricter sense. His first production this year was
Evreinoff's 'Ship of Saints,' a tale of saintly
people bent on nautical solitude, drawn back to
earth by radio music and light from the shore and
suppressed desires within themselves. It was modern
in conception, modern in execution. Yet it failed --
but only in the sense that Evreinoff's other drama,
'The Chief Thing,' failed in the Guild production
last year. Apparently, too many people still want
their drama to be life as they see it or wish to see
it -- not as we gropingly think and puzzle about