Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Anshel Schorr


S. was born on 25 October 1871 in Zlotshev, Eastern Galicia, into a fanatical, Chasidic family. At the ate of six he moved with his parents to Lemberg, where his father became a religious teacher (melamed.) He learned in a cheder, then Gemora with a tusfut of his father, and later in a yeshiva. He never attended a secular school, only at home, in a yeshiva, and in a Beit Hamedrash he studied German and Polish.

After becoming a bar mitzvah he worked in a leather business khdi tsufardinen, and he was even able to attend theatre, from which he soon developed an enormous strength of attitude. A little later he founded a youth socialist union "Silo," and for the members he composed a piece, "Di shvueh bay der royter fon (The Oath at the Red Flag?)," which he stage directed and even played in the main role.

When Y.B. Gimpel opened his Yiddish theatre in Lemberg in 1887-88, S. often was ofter eyngeyer, and a little later translated into Yiddish, Lutsato's "Mgdl euz," but the translation was not staged. The translation was never published, and there is no manuscript for it. Then, when in that theatre there was staged, "Di lustike kavaliern (The Funny Cavalier?)." S. wrote for the comic Avraham Fiskind the couplet, "Dos kvitl," which had a strong reaction (oysgenumen), and it had laid the foundation for S.'s connection with the Yiddish theatre.

S. traveled around with a troupe, also across Bulgaria and Bukovina until 1888-89, when he arrived in Constantinople, where they staged the operetta, "Der giber hakhayel," where there was also visiting from damoltikn dortikn guest Dr. Theodor Herzl, who only sat for the first act.

In 1890, during the guest appearance of Jacob P. Adler in Lemberg, Adler took to America several actors, as well as the prompter Wilensky. S. then became the prompter for the Lemberg theatre, and soon he began to play in roles there. But having a great deal of respect [?] for his parents, he left the theatre and went back to working in a leather business, but he didn't last there for long, and left home and joined an itinerant troupe, with whom he performed across Galicia and Romania, where he performed for the first time in the prominent role of "the saint" in "Uriel Acosta," a role that he would later play with Adler in America.

Playing in Focsani, S. wrote in 1894 the play, "Captain Dreyfus," which at that time allowed the troupe to survive its difficult material conditions.

The play was never published and also there is no manuscript of this.

In 1900 S. was brought to America for the Windsor Theatre by "Professor" Hurwitz. Here S. at the beginning was the assistant stage director  and composed the lyrics (songs) for the operettas, "Ben hador," "Tsvey shnayim (Two Snows?)," "Jacob and Esau," "Exodus from Egypt," "Black and White Jews," etc.

Sholem Perlmutter writes:

"The Yiddish Theatre in America, which had always been in need of fit and able men, had Anshel Schorr, who showed his excellent abilities as a leader and organizer. In America Anshel Schorr received the opportunity to utilize his adventurous temperament, which he had possessed, and he began to search for his shikzal in various ways, and he himself did not opgeshtelt even there, where gravity and politics were mixed together, and in a short time he had an idea of how to get started in the Yiddish Theatre in America.

His first ability was as a stage director that he soon demonstrated to Jacob P. Adler in October 1906, taking over the stage directing for the operetta, "Queen Sheba," in the Grand Theatre. His first offering made a big impression. Adler let him out to the the audience for the first production, praising his abilities as a stage director and Schorr's successful career had begun."

Also Maurice Schwartz had the same opinion about S.:

"Anshel Schorr was a successful theatre-man.

That period in S.'s theatrical activity also was discussed by Joseph Rumshinsky in his memoirs:

"The theatre had...."

"In the span of one year," writes Sholem Perlmutter, "there was given to us in the Windsor Theatre Anshel Schorr, who directed 'The Widow' (adapted from Moshe Richter's 'Moshe Chayim') [the play again....

Zalmen Reyzen writes that it "was the first operetta in America in which Yiddish was spoken without any 'Deytshtmerish.' The operetta soon became a hit across the entire world."

About the production in Warsaw, Dr. A. Mukdoni writes:

"...There arrived an operetta from Anshel Schorr, 'A mentsh zol men zayn (Be a Man!)." The "United Troupe,' D.H. Kaminski's 'literary' troupe, without Madam Kaminski, was the first....

Without the knowledge of the authors, the play was published in Warsaw in 1911. A manuscript can be found in the archive of YIVO.

On 29 September 1909, through David Kessler, the play was produced in the Thalia Theatre. S. and Moshe Schorr's operetta, "Ir ershte libe (Her First Love)," (music by Mogulesco and Brody.") The play did not last long. It was never published. A manuscript can be found in the YIVO Archives.

In 1910 S. adapted the play, "Dos lebn fun a froy (The Life of a Woman?)," (music by Yudele Belzer), which soon was staged. The play, which was translated from the English play, "The Strength of the Weak"), was not published. A manuscript can be found in the YIVO archives.

During the 1910 season, S. composed the operetta, "Dos meydl fun der vest (The Girl From the West)":

"...Because he had love for the theatre, he..."

The play was published in 1913 in Warsaw without the knowledge of the author. A manuscript can be found within the YIVO Archives.

Since then S. wrote plays for his main profession, leaving acting, but from time to time he returned to acting, and even fartretn angezeene, famous actors in their great roles.

As Joseph Rumshinsky recalls, once in Baltimore Jacob P. Adler bchiun, velndik oysprubn di benkshaft fun publikum tsu aim....

On 6 October 1911 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged by Morris Moskowitz S.'s operetta, "Shir hashirim (Song of Songs)," [at first it was advertised as "by N. Rakow and Anshel Schorr"] (stage directed by the author, music by Joseph Rumsinsky.) The subject of the play was taken from Max Dreyer's "Di zibetsnyorkike."

About the antshteyn of the operetta, Joseph Rumshinsky recalls:

"From under..."

And about the antshteyaung of the faous song, "Fun vigl biz tsum kbr" in the operetta, Joseph Rumshinsky recalls that he then was very troyerik geshtimt due to a novel and had maintained that it was not (ch)dai tsu lebn oyf der velt:

"In that..."

Joel Entin writes about the play:

" 'Shir hashirim' is ...."

The play however was presented throughout the entire Yiddish theatre world, where it was maintained throughout the year in repertoire.

In October 1935 in the Acma Theatre in New York, S.'s "Shir hashirim" was made into a Yiddish film, text and directing by Henry Lynn, music by Joseph Rumshinsky, with the following in the roles: Leon Oppenheim--Samuel Goldinburg; Anna--Dora Weissman; Moshele--Reuben Wendorf; Arele--Yudl Dubinsky; Lili--Mirele Gruber; Roza--Anna Toback; Hymie--Seymour Rechtzeit, and Dave--Max Kletter.

The film since then often was seen across the Yiddish world.

The play in 1913 was published in Warsaw, without the knowledge of the author.

On 29 December 1911 there was staged with Morris Moskowitz S.'s play, "Vaybl" (music by Joseph Rumshinsky). the play, which was staged by George Anets (sp), "Gevehrmeyster." It was also staged under the name, "Vos a froy ken," and "Dos yunge vaybl."  It was not published. A manuscript can be found in the archives of YIVO.

As Sholem Perlmutter writes, S. in 1912 became the manager of the Comedy Theatre, which Sam Agid, the former manager of a Yiddish vaudeville house on Clinton Street, had built on Suffolk Street, between Broome and Grand Streets. There S. directed on 29 March 1912, his new comedy, "Borg mir dayn vayb (Lend Me Your Wife)," music by Joseph Rumshinsky.

Rumshinsky recalls that "the combination of Schorr and Rumshinsky was a huge success. However "Dos meydl fun der vest (The Girl from the West),"  and "Shir hashirim," gave birth to the farce-comedy "Borg mir dayn vayb," which was...."

The farce also later was played in European Yiddish theatres, and in other countries. The play was published in 1926 in Warsaw, without the knowledge of the author. A manuscript can be found in the YIVO Archives.

"However," writes Sholem Perlmutter, "in several weeks the troupe disbanded, and Anshel Schorr went over to the Metropolitan Theatre in Newark, together with the former manager Sam Rose. There he also existed for only three months, and he became engaged by Mike Thomashefsky to play in Philadelphia at the Columbia Theatre, which could be found on Green Street. Later he went over with Mike Thomashefsky to the Franklin Theatre, and then the Arch Street Theatre, where he remained for an entire twelve years.

In the Arch Street theatre Anshel Schorr staged many plays under his name, but with many of them er zikh zayer veynik angehert. He knew very much, but he could not be a great actor, so he turned to becoming a dramaturge. If he..."

As ambitious as S. was, recalls Celia Adler in her memoirs, when Mike Thomashefsky decided to compete against the Arch Street Theatre, which then had been run by three partners, i.e. Yehoshua (Jack) Gruber, Moshele Luber and S., and leased the large "American Theatre," and made preparations to bring Jacob P. Adler and Sara Adler in as stars. S. put it this way:

"Anshel Schorr and his partners decided that..."

In 1913 in the Novelty Theatre there was staged S.'s comedy, "Dos zise meydl (My Sweet Girl)" (music by Joseph Rumshinsky.)

The play, without the knowledge, and without the name of the author, was published in 1926 in Warsaw under the name, "Dos zise meydl, oder, Dos pension meydl, a comedy in three acts, adapted by R. M." A manuscript can be found in the archives of YIVO.

At the same time there was played S.'s "Di grine deytske," which was never published, and thereof there is no manuscript. "Der distrikt atoyrny (The District Attorney)" (adapted by Paul Lindoy's [sp] drama, "Der anderer (The Other?), which also was never published, and there is no manuscript either. "Dos farlorene glik (Lost Happiness)" (a lebensbild in four acts), adapted from Jacoby's play, "Ehe," also was never published. A manuscript can be found in the archives of YIVO.

In October 1913 there was staged S.'s tsayt-bild, "Mendel Beiles,' which played for a long time with Jacob P. Adler, and at the same time by Max Rosenthal, which was never published. A manuscript as "an operetta in four acts" can be found in the archives of YIVO.

In 1914 there was also staged S.'s play, "Libe un laydenshaft (Love and Passion)." The play was never published and no manuscript of it can be found.

In 1915 S.'s play, "Der sof fun a gembler (The End of a Gambler?)," a melodrama in four acts, was staged. The play was never published. A manuscript can be found in the archives of YIVO.

On 8 October 1915, in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre, there was staged by Kessler S.'s comedy-drama in five acts, "Hit oykh, meydelekh (Beware, Girls!)."

In 1916 there was also staged S.'s comedy, "Oy, vos meydlekh zaynen." The play was never published, and it no manuscript of it exists in the archives of YIVO.

In 1917 there was staged S.'s tsayt-piese "Dos naye rusland (The New Russia?)."

The play was never published, and there is no manuscript of it that can be found.

On 1 November 1918, through Thomashefsky, there was staged at the National Theatre, S.'s tsayt-bild, "Nokh der milkhome (After the War)," music by Rumshinsky The play also at the same time was staged in Philadelphia (music by Friedsell.)

The play was never published, and no manuscript of it can be found.

On 5 October 1920 in New York's Second Avenue Theatre, there was staged S.'s play, "A shvester's opfer (A Sister's Sacrifice)," subject by Freiman, which was never published and no manuscript of it is known to exist.

Around the same time there was also staged in Philadelphia S.'s play, "A moyd mit sekhel (A Sensible Girl)," music by Yudele Belzer. The comedy was never published. A manuscript of it can be found in the YIVO Archives. (The comedy in a new adaptation by Jacob Kalich was staged on 23 October 1925 in New York, at the Second Avenue Theatre, with Molly Picon in the title role, under the name "Molly Dolly" (music by Joseph Rumshinsky), and later was played across many Yiddish theatres in America.)

p. 2915


Sh. E. from Anshel Schorr and Jonas Turkow.

  • "Lexicon






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 2907.

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