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  YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  WHO IS GUILTY?

 

"WHO IS GUILTY?"

(Ver is shuldig?)

 

 

     

Here is the plot of this play, as described in the Yiddish Forward newspaper (in Yiddish), in their November 10, 1944 edition. The writer of the article described the play as "a melodrama with music." The program above states that the main actors of the play are "nicely assisted by songs, dances and an actor with the entrancing name of Feivish Finkel." Here is the plot (in a nutshell) :

Alice Barkin (played by Lillian Lux), a young and beautiful young lady, a daughter of rich parents, falls in love with a young musician, Arnold Aronson (played by Julius Adler.) Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Barkin (played by Simon Wolf and Anna Toback) are against the match. They would rather that their daughter marry another young man, Morris Lieberman (played by Max Rosenblatt.) The young musician (Arnold) is considered to be fatherless. He thinks that his father was killed during the first world war. His mother, Mrs. Helen Aronson (played by Janet Paskewitch) is hiding a secret from him that his father is very much alive. Arnold's father was wounded during the first world war, and he is being kept in a "house for the insane" in London. Despite the opposition of their parents, Alice and Arnold decide to get married. However, during the wedding ceremony celebration, to catch you up, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and that America is at war.

After the wedding Alice's mother finds out the secret, that Arnold's father lives. She wants her daughter to get a divorce from the young musician. Alice keeps the faith with her husband. He goes away and enlists in the army. He is sent away to the Pacific front. The transport ship on which he and his friends are traveling on is sunk by a Japanese submarine. The young musician loses his memory. He is sent to a hospital. His young wife, his mother and friends come to visit him, but he doesn't recognize them. The young Alice is in great despair. She tries to have the musician recall their love. He remembers nothing. After a time Alice gets a revelation that her husband was burned to death during a fire in the hospital. Her parents send her to distant relatives on a farm, somewhere in Wisconsin, hoping that she would forget her misfortune. However, on the farm she finds her husband. It was discovered that he had successfully fled from the hospital during a fire, and he came to the farm. The farmer's daughter remained with him and she married him. Alice is in despair. She doesn't know who her husband is, and her husband doesn't even recognize her.

Several soldiers, her husband's friends, fall upon a plan: when he was paralyzed the memory of his ship dropped within him, and they decided that they would throw him into the water, so that he should drink it, and this would perhaps, in this way, give him back his memory. The plan works. Arnold remembers where he is, knows his wife and returns to her.

------

The review continues, in part (with paraphrasing):

That was the plot with the main characters of the play, but there were others.... such as in a scene when the old Itche Shadkhan (Itche the Matchmaker, played by Eli Mintz, to Arnold's grandmother Sarah, played up till now by Henrietta Jacobson, but now by Celia Boodkin). Eli Mintz is a fine comic, and his performance brought out a lot of laughter. When only he appeared on the stage and took to searching out a plan, he said, "Leave it to Itche," and the audience cried out to him, "Leave it to Itche!" And thus these words raced like a wildfire across the entirety of Brooklyn....

 

The cast of this play included (in alphabetical order):
Isaac Arco, Paul (Pesach'ke) Burstein, Fyvush Finkel, Flora Freiman, Henrietta Jacobson, Harry Landman, Lillian Lux, Eli Mintz, Jeanette Paskewitch, Max Rosenblatt, Saltsche Schorr, Meyer Steinwurtzel, Anna Toback and Simon Wolf. Later Celia Boodkin replaced Henrietta Jacobson in her part.

The play was written by Louie Freiman (Flora Freiman's father), the music by Ilya Trilling, the lyrics by Louis Markowitz. The dances were arranged by Henrietta Jacobson. Pesach'ke Burstein staged the production.

"Who is Guilty?" played in at least three theatres during this season (in 1944-45):

Hopkinson Theatre, Brooklyn, NY: from September 27th until June 14, 1945;
Tremont Theatre, Bronx, NY: from January 19th until February 4, 1945;
it went "on the road," including a stop at the Lincoln Yiddish Theatre in Philadelphia, PA on April 4, 1945;
Brighton Theatre, Brooklyn, NY: from April 13 until ?
 

 

THE PERSONNEL OF "WHO IS GUILTY?"

All of the troupe is not identified above. In the back row, third from the left is Harry Landman, then Fyvush Finkel, Louis Markowitz, the play's lyricist, sixth is Isaac Arco, theatre manager Oscar Green, Julius Adler. The last man on the right is unknown. Seated: third from the left is Lillian Lux, and to her left is Eli Mintz; seated at the table with script in hand is playwright Louis Freiman, to his writer is the composer Ilya Trilling, and to his left is Pesach'ke Burstein. then Henrietta Jacobson. Flora Freiman is seated third from the right. Perhaps it is Saltsche Schorr to Flora's left, then perhaps it is Anna Toback at the far right of the picture, seated.....


 

FYVUSH FINKEL (LT.) AND PESACH'KE BURSTEIN
from "Who is Guilty?"
opened September 27, 1944
at the Hopkinson Theatre, Brooklyn, NY

 

LILLIAN LUX AND
PESACH'KE BURSTEIN


from "Who is Guilty?"


 

 


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