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       the yiddish world




From the Sun, a New York Newspaper, dated December 17, 1906.

Lives in the Yiddish Theatre



Hard and Fast Union Cinch on the Yiddish Theatres to Protect Salaries Starts
an Open Shop Dramatic School, With a Shadowy Promise of Open Shop Theatre

All the East Side is a stage nowadays. The tailor has given up his goose, the shoemaker his last, the egg tester is dreaming of the day when he may have a chance to sample the eggs by personal contact and the salesmen and the salesgirls are declaiming with emotion from behind counters things that they used to utter in a casual, perfunctory way, such as "So help me! It's all wool but the buttons!" and "It fits like the paper on the vall!" Striding or prancing on the walks of the East Side parks, young men and women pouring over play books may be seen muttering things in Yiddish, the "proper jargon," used by the Russian Jews. They are committing to memory everything from "Romeo and Juliet" to "Box and Cox." They are members of the First Yiddish School of Acting, recently incorporated, or they are getting ready to join the school.

The three Yiddish theatres of New York are in the grip of two unions, one made up of vaudeville artists and the other of exponents of the legitimate drama. The legitimates never speak to the vaudevillians as they pass by. The wages of the best actors of both classes range from $25 to $50 a week. The knowledge of this and the ambition to be a professional person has tempted several hundred working folks, mostly young men and women, to make application to the "Tytacony, the First Yiddish School of Acting and Conservatory of Dramatic Arts." Tytacony is not Yiddish. It is made up of the initials of the corporation that runs the school, the Yiddish Theatre Amusement Company of New York.

Max Moscowitz is manager of the school. Its instructor in music is Harry Stone of the Metropolitan Opera House, its dramatic expert M J. Lavrovsky, its elocution teacher Sam Gisnet and its dancing master L. J. Baraban. The letterheads and application blanks of the school have an enwreathed picture of a man labeled Shakespeare, who has a fine dark beard and looks much like a large number of East Side merchants not addicted to shaving.

The school is going to advocate the open shop in acting. The two unions will not admit an actor who has not had at least six months experience on the stage, and inasmuch as the unions control the stage it is impossible for any one to act in New York unless he comes from the other side with proofs of his ability.

Mr. Moscowitz says the Tytacony is going to turn out actors and actresses as fast as it can and in large numbers. They may not be able to get into the three theatres here, but they will receive assurance of getting jobs in a theatre that will be built in about a year. The is theatre will make no discrimination in regard to actors. It will be strictly open shop, and union men will be treated just as non-union.

The Yiddish school occupies the basement and first floor of 234 East Broadway. Both floors were thronged yesterday with the stagestruck. In the basement Prof. Gisnet was teaching a class the first principles of elocution. None of the pupils appeared to be more than 30 and each had a paper on which was written the "piece" that the professor was teaching him to declaim. They were all very attentive and in tremendous earnest. Upstairs Prof. Lavrovsky was on a little stage filling one end of he double room instructing the young men and women more advanced in the histrionic art how to use their hands while uttering noble sentiments. The professor had much trouble in getting his pupils to understand that gestures were both horizontal and perpendicular.

Manager Moscowitz said that he rejected many applications because of the low order of intelligence of the applicant. None but Jews who understood both English and Yiddish were admitted to the school. Many pupils were of American birth and some displayed real talent. Prof. Harry Stone said that he had a remarkable tenor in his singing class of twenty-eight young men and women who eventually would become as great, if not greater, than Caruso.


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