spent his time in London's
Mission House, where he struggled without eating and
learned English at the same time.
Then he fought, on his own
initiative, for a post in a department store of the
philanthropist Williams, where he was initially an
address writer and packer and then a German
Operbetndik a year on
the stand and attending during that time the English
theatre, S. became known to the actor Joseph
Goldschmidt, who put together a young troupe of young
actors, and he was included in the playing, under the
name of "Feingold," half-a-week in vaudeville in
English, and the other half-week in plays in Yiddish,
but after a short time he went over to the Yiddish
troupe of Jenny Kaiser, where he debuted as "Max
Philipson" in Feinman's "Dos foters kale."
Hearing that in South Africa
there was being created a Yiddish theatre troupe, S.
went there, and in January 1897 he joined the troupe
(Jacob Katzman, Sarah Dayan, Esther and Sol Wallerstein,
Annie Kaplansky et al.), and he played for two years in
Johannesburg with the troupe (to which there later came
Mandeltort and his wife, Moshe Zilberman et al.) Then he
traveled in the mdbrius of South Africa to search
for gold (mining), and after metern zikh there
several months with a freed prisoner of England, he fled
barely with his life back to Johannesburg, where he
became an auctioneer for a rich Irish [?]auctioneer
Richard Corey [?], with whom he materially assisted [?]
He also later founded the first Yiddish newspaper in
South Africa "Di afrikaner idishe gazzeten," with S. as
the publisher, and Isaac Berman as editor. However, due
to the outbreak of the war between England and the
Boars, he left it all and fled to New York, where he
arrived on 5 November 1899.
Here he tried joining
Adler's Theatre, but without success, and he became in
several weeks an insurance agent. In time he was
established in the Yiddish Actors' Union, which took him
in as a member, but the actors of the three former
Yiddish theatres in New York (Thalia, Windsor and
People's), ignored the unengaged actors in New York and
the provincial actors. S. in his great desire to play
Yiddish theatre, therefore accepted an offer for an Adler's production
in order to
play with him, but the actors then formed a union
strike, and along with other striking-breaking actors,
was thrown out with them after the victory by the strikers.
S. traveled with his strike-breaking colleagues to
Philadelphia, where they ended the season in the Arch
Street Theatre, under the direction of Ivan Abramson.
For a long time S. endeavored in vain to join the union,
declaring that he was willing to pay a penalty for his
strike-breaking, and at first through the intervention
of researcher-judge Jerome and Dr. David Blaustein,
earlier of the Educational
he was taken in as a member of the Union in 1922.
Shortly thereafter he became engaged in the newly opened
Grand Theatre (Karp, Lateiner, Bernstein and Friedsell
-- managers), but he felt a curse concerning getting
In 1904-05 S. became engaged
in the Grand Theatre with Adler, and here in November
1904 he was the first to create the role of "Khayutin"
in Gordin's "The True Power."
Sara Adler reports it quite
differently in her memoirs, about S.'s arrival in the
professional Yiddish theatre:
"... Gordin and other
writers and actors used to with Schacht....top, p. 2221
(much more to translate....)
However, when S. caught
himself --- further recalls Sara Adler -- that we were
striking in the theatre, he says that despite his
playing, his is applying to the union and should be
taken in as a member. Receiving a refusal, he applied
with a complaint to the district attorney at the time,
General [procurer] Jerome, and thanks to his
intervention, he became a member in the union. The
strike, meanwhile, was won and S. was taken into the
troupe and receive the role of "Khayutin" to play in
"The True Power," and about his acting and the
impression he made, Sara Adler recalls further:
"So great was Schacht's
success in the relatively small role....that Ab. Cahan,
the editor of the "Forward," had in his review about the
play spoken more about Schacht than about all the stars
together. Cahan had then written about Schacht more than
about Adler, Kessler and all the others, who were
appearing for the first time in the piece. And not only
Cahan had in the young actor identified an important
talent; also Israel Zangwill, who then was a guest in
New York, he came to see and could not oploybn of
Schacht's acting. Zangwill then invited Schacht to
travel with him to London and there perform on the
And Sara Adler further
recalls what had occurred in the theatre when S. had
played in the role of "Khayutin:":
"Fruitlessly, Kessler [who
played the main role in "Dr. Goldenweiser"] had
attempted several times to begin. No one had not heard
him. The audience was crazy with enthusiasm. Several
times in the middle of an act they had to bring Schacht
out onto the stage and Kessler's monologue did not show
any success. The curtain came down on a non-performed
act, that such a thing had never happened in a Yiddish
S.'s success had led to a
conflict between Kessler and Adler. Earlier Kessler had
played "Dr. Goldenweiser," and Adler the role of "Pompion,"
and they had zikh gebitn with the roles, but when
Adler had taken over the role of "Dr. Goldenweiser,"
Sara Adler recalls the history once again:
"In one act... [p. 2222]....,more
The history, as Sara Adler
recalls, had farendikt dermit vos Adler's
"patriots" had when a production created a scuffle in a
theatre, we didn't complete the production, and Adler
had taken by S. the role and given it to the actor
Ginsburg. S. thus questioned this by calling Adler out
in the press, that he should compare him in other roles.
From then on there was an antagonism between Adler and
In 1905-06 S. played in the
In 1906-07 he was in the
Thalia Theatre with Kessler, Moshkovich and Lipzin.
From 1907-11 he played
part-time with Adler, part-time with Lipzin, and was the
first to embody (in 1907) the role of "Melech Natan
Torbe" in Jacob Gordin's "On the Mountains."
In the summer of 1911 he was
brought to London, whre he participated as "Khayutin" in
Adler's local production of "The True Power."
In 1911-12 he played with
Keni Lipzin in the Lipzin Theatre.
In 1912-13 he played
opportunistically in the productions and participated on
25 December 1942 in Thomashevsky's Royal Theatre in
Anschel Schorr's "Dos zisl meydl.'
In 1913-14 he was in the
Dewey Theatre (14th Street) with Adler.
In that time S. dedicated
himself to the studying of the tendencies of
Shakespeare's "Shylock" and studied through virtually
every Shylock commentator in English and in German and
worked out his own interpretation, which portrayed
"Shylock" as a highly filosemitish work, in
antithesis to the most of the time generally accepted
opinions. Lo the studies and the idea to perform
"Shylock" in his exchange had S.'s withdrawal from the
stage, and in 1914 he went over into business. He
technically developed an invention for a certain
Lifshitz, but due to the coming world war, S. was not
able to receive the necessary German technical materials
and lost due to the invention over two years' time,
within which he acted, but from time to time.
In 1917-18 he acted in
Adler's Grand Theatre, where he had, on 9 November 1917
was the first to embody the role of "Father Michail" in
Ossip Dymow's "The World in Flames," and since March
1918 he doubled for Adler in Dymow's "Slave of the
In 1918-19 he acted in
Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre.
In 1919-20 he acted in the
Yiddish Art Theatre (under the direction of Maurice
Schwartz), and here he was the first to actuate in the
role of the "priest" in Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye the
Milkman," "The Dance Teacher," in Lengiel's "The
Dancer," "Satin" in Gorki's "Oyfn opgrunt," and "Mazik"
in Fishl Bimko's "Thieves."
In 1920-21 he played in
Schnitzer's "New Yiddish Theatre" in the role of the
"lover" in "Silent Forces" by Jan Eker (sp), and "the
philanthropist" in Avraham Shomer's "The Reformed
Convict" (together with Rudolph Schildkraut).
In 1921-22 he was in the
Lipzin Theatre with Jennie Valiere, and here staged on
23 November 1921 Jacob Faller's "The Everlasting Tangle"
and Zolotarefsky's "Every Woman's Desire [?] (playing
the role of "Chazan.")
In 1923-24 he opened under
his direction " Gustav Schacht's Amphion Theatre," where
on 11 September 1923 he sttaged Avraham Blum's "Kol
Yakov," and then Z. Kornblit's "Tserishene neshomes"
(according to a motive from Guy de Maupassant), but
after eight weeks he closed the theatre with a large
deficit, and S. then toured the province with the
guest-starring troupe of the Yiddish Art Theatre.
In 1925-26 he Sh. played
with Ludwig Satz and Max Rosenthal in the Irving Place
Theatre, and then he traveled away to Hollywood, where
he continued for five years to study the "Shylock"
complex. Here S. played the "head of the eygeyner,"
in John Barrymore's first sound film, "General Crack,"
and then small roles in other sound films, together with
Emil Jennings, Pola Negri et al.
Returning to New York for
the 1932-33 season, he became engaged in the Yiddish Art
Theatre and was the first to play the role of "Shachna
Dein" in Schwartz's offering of I. J. Singer's "Yoshe
Kalb," and he made a strong impression for the shaping
of the character.
On 9 December 1936 S.
performed in the Folks Theatre as "Solomon" in a
combination-production of Gordin's "Mirele Efros" (with
four women playing "Mirele": Anna Appel, Berta Gerstin,
Dora Weissman and Bina Abramowitz), a benefit for the
"Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre."
In 1936 S. joined the Jewish
State Theatre (W. P. A.) and played "the cleric" in
Yehuda Bleich's production of Sinclair Lewis' "Do kon es
nit geshen," and the role of "Jacob" in Jacob Mestel's
offering of Clifford Odet's "Awake and Sing."
This was actually the last
great role that S. had played, and he had with it been
mentioned again by the critic in his wonderful
About his playing the role
of "Jacob," D. Kaplan writes:
"The old Jacob played by
Gustav Schacht with delicate ability and ideal feeling
and creates very much a sympathetic design, but the help
did not remove the impression of Jacob's unnaturalness
and tsugetshepeter relationship with the entire
environment of the play."
Warm about his playing, N.
"Gustav Schact creates a
tragedy, a pathetic figure of the ...more to
Also William Edlin wad
deeply pleased by S.'s playing:
Very thrilled with the
embodiment of the role, Leon Kobrin says:
"...Gustave Schacht saw many
roles, in which they had portrayed and manifested true
talent, but I have never seen him act better as in the
role of the old Jacob. At times, many years back,
Schacht made a big appearance in a role of a Yiddish
teacher, an idealist, a bel khoylem [Khayutim] in
Gordin's "True Power." ....In the role of the old Jacob
even more excellence, that I have seen for that teacher,
the dreamer, who was before the time ages thirty years,
and nevertheless remains warm, the kind idealist of a
On 8 October (on Kol Nidre)
1943, S. passed away in New York.
S. was the brother-in-law of
Zionist leader Louis Lipsky.
S.'s daughter is married to
Charles Adler, son of Jacob P. Adler and Jennie Keiser.
B. Botwinik characterizes
him as such:
"...Although Schacht was
a.... more to translate."
B. Gorin --
"History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, p. 198.
[--] -- Kurtse
biografie fun beliebte kinstler, "Di idishe bine,"
N. Y., 25 March 1910.
[--] -- Endlikh
iz er gevorn a idisher aktior, "Forward," N. Y.,
23 October 1912.
Uriel Mazik --
[Alter Epstein] -- Bilder-galeree fun unzere
idishe shoishpieler, "Der tog," N. Y., 13
A. Buckstein --
In teater, "Freaye arbayter shtime," N. Y., 27
William Edlin --
"Vakh-oyf un zing" khun kliford odets in royal's
teater, "Der tog," N. Y., 25 Dec. 1938.
D. Kaplan -- "Eveik
end sing" -- itst geshpilt oyf idish, "Forward,"
N. HY., 30 Dec. 1938.
N. Buchwald -- "Vakh
oyf un zing" in idish, "Morgn frayhayt," N. Y.,
30 December 1938.
Leon Kobrin --
Odets dermont oyf gordin mit zayn "vakh oyf un
zing," "Der tog," N. Y., 17 February 1939.
Sara Adler -- Di
lebens-geshikhte fun sara adler, "Forward," N.
Y., L.aroysgabe 21, 23, 24 March, 4, 6, 8, 11,
13 and 14 April 1939.
Jacob Mestel -- "Undzer
teater," N. Y., 1943, p. 166.
B. Botwinik --
Gustav shacht un yitzhak feld, "Forward," L. A.,
15 October 1943.