In order to better his
material condition, Z. decided -- that he related in his
history of the Yiddish theatre -- to become a dramatist
and he took for himself a sample of the then Yiddish
dramaturgy of Lateiner and Hurwitz.
Z.'s first play was a vision
of American Jewish life "Di tsvey grinhorns (The Two
Greenhorns)", but soon he took on the historical texts
and composed the operetta, "Miriam hkhshmunis". The
former Yiddish dramatists, who also were partners in the
direction of the theatres, decided not to stage Z.'s
play, and initially in 1890 his operetta "Miriam
hkhshunis" was staged at the Thalia Theatre, and it soon
made a name for him as a dramatist.
On 24 October 1890, Z.'s
lebensbild "Der shloser" (probably "Di tsvey
grinhorns (The Two Greenhorns)") was staged in the
Roumanian Opera House, and on 25 December 1890 -- his
"historical Polish opera -- the Yiddish Folk Colonel" [Berek
Yoselevish], music by Mogulesko and Minkovsky.
In 1891 there was staged
Z.'s play "Titus", or "Khurbn bit shni", in 1892 his
plays: "Shumr israel", "Geheymnis fun rusishn hoyf", "Shibs
tsion", 'Di drey trern", "Ger tsadik", or "Graf Potosky",
and "Dos kind in vald"; in 1893: "Gburi israel", "Di bt
ikhidh" or "New York veynt un veynt", a translation of
Schiller's "The Robbers", and on 24 November of the same
year (in his "History of the Yiddish Theatre, Z. laughs
at that earlier adaptation).
In 1894 there were staged: "Kroynprints
rudolf (Crown Price Rudolf)", or "Di yidn in estreykh
(The Jew in Austria)", an adaptation from Schiller's
"Maria Stuart", and "Don Karlos", and on 9 February of
the same year (in the Thalia Theatre), "R' Meir Bel hns",
or "Di melukha fun tsezeria", a "historical legend in
five acts" (after Schiller's "Turandot").
In 1895: "Di idishe trilbi",
(adapted by A. Marier) and "Der Nakht-vekhter"; in
1896 -- the "original sensational operetta of American
life -- the Yiddish Colonist" and "Galut moskva", in
1898 -- a free translation of Sardou's ''Théodora'', in
1900 -- "Freie libe" or "Di nekomeh fun a froy", in
1901-- Shabat yehuda" or "Der revolutsyoner", on 13
February 1902 -- "Zandas hokhtseyt" or "Der prokuror als
farteydiker -- Hungarian lebensbild in four acts"
(adapted from the drama "Nunta di valeni"), 1904 --
"Moshe rabeinu" or "Di yidn in der mdbr", 1906 -- (in
the Grand Theatre) the operetta "Mlkha shba" [adapted
from by Sholem Perlmutter as a play of Z.'s one-acter "Ush
bkhl alf la mtsasi"], and in 1909 the very popular
operetta "Dos pintele yid" [later performed under the
name of the the adaptor Thomashefsky].
Z. also adapted from the
German a play "Der sibirnik", which Feinman had once
again adapted and staged under his [P.'s] name as "30
yor unter der erd".
B. Gorin characterized Z.'s
dramaturgy as such [poor translation here -ed.]:
"Z. has melded his shtiks into the same part,
whereas the shtiks from each time then became melded. He
followed the same path that the earlier dramatic writers
in New York had followed. He had perhaps in his
historical shtiks kept more of the history and his
lebensbilds perhaps wasn't lebervurst as well as
the others, but he also didn't have his material... M.
Zeifert also deserves attention due to the fact that he
was he was one of the first who had translated classical
plays for the Yiddish stage."
Z. had in a collection "Di
idishe bine" (New York 1897) published a large work [47
pages] under the name of "The History of Yiddish
Theatre", where he studied with sarcasm and humor the
history of the Yiddish theatre of Goldfaden until the
year 1897. This work soon thereof was published in a
special edition. In this history Z. characterized his
own dramaturgical work in the following way:
"I am a teacher, that I am a
"ganev (thief)", that is, everyone of my plays
are adequate for khprus point as the plays of the
other composer. I am not prouder tonight with them,
because I know that I have created nothing".
In the same collection he
also published a long article "Di idishe bine un ihr
tsukunft", and in "Lukh akhiebr" (New York Srp'a) a
large Hebrew article about Yiddish theatre.
Since 1909 Z. withdrew from
his theatrical activities, and he only gives himself to
his work in Yiddish literature, especially journalistic.
On 7 February 1922, Z.
passed away in New York.
Zalmen Reyzen --
"Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 1065-9.
B. Gorin -- "History
of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 66, 88-99, 182,
204, 269, 277.
M. Zeifert -- Di
geshikhte fun idishen theater ("Di idishe bine", N.
Y., 1897, editor Chanan Y. Minikes.)
M. Zeifert -- Lsuldus
khsiatrun hisudi (Prk mzkhrunusi), "Loch Akhiebr",
Eruk el "d" M. Lipson, N. Y., Trp'a, pp. 134-150.
B. Gorin -- "Gezamelte
shriften", N. Y., 1927, vol. I, pp. 56-7.
Sholem Perlmutter --
Idisher dramaturgen, "Di idishe velt", Cleeveland,
9, 10, December 1928.