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Great Artists: David Pinski, Yiddish Playwright

  "The Treasure"

  presented by the Theatre Guild
   at the Garrick Theatre, 65 W. 35th St, New York, New York
   premiered 5 Oct 1920

Front Cover

Cast of Characters
"The Treasure"

Theatre Guild
Board of Directors
et al

Seating Plan
for the
Garrick Theatre

The former
Garrick Theatre,
courtesy of the New York Public Library

Excerpts of review published by the New York Times, October 5, 1920

The Theatre Guild, entered upon a particularly ambitious season at the Garrick Theatre last night, gave its first production of David Pinski’s “The Treasure,” a work tolerably familiar in the Yiddish theatres for a matter of ten years or more. It is a play which Max Reinhardt thought enough of to present in Berlin in 1910; in this country the piece has been in print for about five years, and the Guild has had it in its possession for a year and a half. It is an always interesting, frequently bitter, but by no means (sic) relentless satire on the eternal pursuit of money; in many respects a remarkably fine play…

The play is a comedy of Yiddish life, although the theme is universal. The scenes take place within the Jewish pale of a Russian village—on the edge of the cemetery, in and about the house of Chone, the gravedigger. When Yudke, the half-witted son of Chone, unearths a few gold coins somewhere in the graveyard, the imaginative daughter of the house at once leaps to the conclusion that there is a treasure to be had for the digging. Into the village she flounces with the coins which Yudke has flung to her, and when she reappears she is rigged out in gay finery, intent upon attracting a suitor.

The effect of all this upon the community may be imagined. The marriage broker, the President of the congregation, the man who believes the treasure to have been found upon his property, the representatives of several needy and worthy charities—all these crowd themselves upon the frenzied gravedigger. At first unwittingly, he is drawn gradually into the deception, until there comes a time when he himself believes that this daughter has unearthed a fortune. When finally he protests the truth his fellow-villagers refuse to believe him; a new man is selected for the post of gravedigger and he and his family are turned out of the house.

 But relentless the author is not. Bitter and ironic as is much of the play, a bit of good comes from even the handful of coins which were all that the earth contained. For the gravedigger regains his job and the daughter has her finery, a bit of dowry and the hope of a husband…

 Celia Adler gives a signally fine performance as the imaginative and romantic daughter, elevated for a day to the status of the millionaire….



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