Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Unzer Vinkl
(Our Corner)

The theatre, "Unzer vinkl (Our Corner)"" was founded in Kharkov, Ukraine, in 1918, through the initiative group that originated from the executive members of Yiddish artists and chorister's union: I. L. Boymvol, M. Rafalski, Wolf Zilberberg and Nakhum Stutkatch. The idea for the theatre came from that the cooperative troupes, which were created at the Kiev conference, were eyntsikvayz (due to the frequent military revolutions) territorial, became interrupted from Kharkov, and after that the lone literary troupe which the association had founded, was shown to be a moralistic and financial failure.

With much effort is the initiative - Group successful in concentrating Around a young creative powers at Yiddish theatre, that seriously strove to transfer the old Yiddish theatre, and together, per the friendly elements, the theatre opened in the Yekaterinski Theatre. The beginning was with the staging of artistically designed miniatures of known Yiddish writers and translated scenes, also for the first time there was staged Yiddish folk songs. the theatre had a non-kshdikn financial success.

The theatre later went over to the staging of entire plays, and among them was Dr. Max Nordau's play "Dr. Kohn", which had a great deal of success. Soon, however, again there came a military upheaval after the other, and the troupe fell apart. Boymvol and Epstein went away to Kiev and were killed on the way. Others were driven into other turmoil, but after the conditions became a little more tranquil, those remaining renewed their work, tsugetsoygn several articles regarding communal activity, which founded a "small theatre", which founded a "theatre committee", which took over the complete financial and business of the theatre, urging the "small theatre" on Zhotkinski Pereulak, characteristic of the needed settings, and with the assistance of several Russian regisseurs from Sinelnikovs city theatre, performed the work on a large scale. Through this time there was staged a range of plays from Asch, Weiter, Goldoni, Moliere et a. The theatre thus performed for several years until the Polish offensive against Russia in 1921. Not being able to in the various upheavals that Kharkov had again lived through, going over from one power to the other, the troupe again performed, being part-time forced to interrupt their productions for several months.

The "Theatre Committee", which previously had consisted of the Kharkov Jewish bourgeois, followed the control of a worker's committee, which the Jewish socialistic association had created, and then under the supervision of Naroobroz (People's Educational Committee), but every one of the committees hadn't any impact or effect, in the artistic side of the theatre, what was staged by the Dryers Committee: Rafalski, Zilberberg and Stutchkoff. When the Bolsheviks began their counter-offensive against Poland and about to occupy Vilna, the troupe, which already had possessed a greater previously performed repertoire, felt that to make it a bit fresher, they needed to go out on tour and guest-star, and so it (charged with all that was needed) set forth in two wagons under the protection of the Minister of Education Lunacharski. The guest performances in Vitebsk were received with enthusiasm. Their fame thus spread to other regions, so that the troupe was subsequently invited to, but the troupe had planned to perform in Moscow, but on the way the troupe performed in Minsk and also there became taken with excitement.

It had, however, started with difficult times: Hunger ... three Yiddish troupes were imported into one theatre. Also the Soviet powers began to mix in the artistic directors and issued several demands, to which the troupe did not want to agree to them, until a certain day [in 1921] when the name of the troupe 'Unzer vinkl' was taken off the placards, and the theatre was transformed into a state theatre.... Under the new circumstances, the actors lost interest in the type of theatre and were driven in all directions: to Poland or to Moscow.

The actor Benzion Palepade in his memoirs stated that on arriving in Kiev he happened upon about four hundred Jewish actors who thither traveled together, fleeing due to the unrest from the small towns:

"There were two theatres then in Kiev; one art theatre under the name 'Unzer vinkl', and the other, a cheap theatre that had played in Podolia.

In 'Unzer vinkl' there was Esther Rukhl Kaminska, Zigmunt Turkow, Y. Libert, H. Vaysman, the sister Eidelman and Epstein, a fine actor who later was tragically killed by raging bands, and a new, young talent with the name of Sheinberg. The art theatre had actors under the direction of the then known author and regisseur Boymvol, and the troupe was a great one."

The repertoire that was performed in the theatre consisted of: "God of Vengeance", "The Time of the Messiah" and "Landsman" by Sholem Asch, "A Faraway Corner" and "Nevula" by Peretz Hirshbein, "The Family" by H. D. Nomberg, "Yankel the Blacksmith" by David Pinski, "The Mute" by A. Veyter, "Yankel Boile" by Leon Kobrin, and from translations: "Dr. Cohen" by Dr. Max Nordau, "Jan and Madlena" by Octave Mirbeau, "Interesn shpil" by Benevento, "Di hotel virtin" by Goldoni, and ""Skopens shtik" by Moliere.

According to other information, thre also was staged: "Dos khprh-hindl", a comedy by Volter, freely adapted by N. Stutchkoff. The regisseur Tarkhanov staged Zuderman's "Heimat", and the production "The Eternal Wanderer" by Osip Dymov was done through Lishin and Shriftzetzer.

In the span of the existence of "Unzer vinkl", they had at various times changed its members, which consisted of: I. L. Boymvol, Brown, Rose Birnbaum, Betty Dalska, Leon Dushman, Chana Dobrovinska, Vayshof, Wolf Zilberberg, Zigmunt Turkow, Rosa Yermolina-Vaysman, Marco Milner, Nachum Stutchkoff, Yoel (Grisha) Epstein, Pikelchik, Sarah Finich, Kaizer, Ida Kaminska, Steinberg, M. Rafelski, and Leib Shriftzetzer.

Sh. E. from Nachum Stutchkoff.

  • Bentzion Palepade -- "Zikhrones", Buenos Aires, 1946, p. 311.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3,  page 4975

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