excerpted from the New York Tribune newspaper of October 17, 1920



....And then there is Miss Gersten--Berta Gersten--the leading lady, an interesting and attractive-looking young woman.

Miss Gersten does a very "heavy" part in a play by Peretz Hirshbein called "The Golden Chain," which is being played at the Irving Place Theater. She portrays so much intense emotion that a natural query would be as to how much of herself she puts into every part.

"Every bit of me," she answered. "It is something I can't remedy. Many actors have told me that they can simulate any sort of emotion when they are acting. But I have always had to put my whole soul and life into my part. When I shudder or cry on the stage, it is because I am really living the part I am portraying.

"How do I prepare for a part? I always attend the reading of a play, and then and there form a mental picture of my character. I take her home with me and live her life in my imagination, as I can see it up to the time of the play. I go over every phase of her life that could have developed her into the woman she is--and then I learn my lines. That is the simplest part of preparing a character, because that is only memory work. I do have to worry about the interpretation and the expression. They come naturally when you are familiar with the life of the person you are trying to be.

"I see a great future for the Yiddish stage, and I believe it will not be very long before we have our John and Ethel Barrymores. The young people of the Yiddish acting profession have brought with their histrionic ability an idealism that cannot help but raise the standards of the Yiddish theater, and I find that they are working together very harmoniously to carry on the work started by Mr. [Maurice] Schwartz and the Jewish Art Theater.

"Wasn't it Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, 'It is not so much where we stand, but the direction in which we are going that counts'?"

photo: Berta Gersten, date unknown.
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.




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