Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre



Samuel Leresko
(Shmuel Lehrer)

Born on 1 August 1876 [according to Bader's Calendar -- 1868] in Iasi, Romania. Father -- the owner of a bank business. He learned in a religious elementary school [cheder], in a governmental school, and then in a private military school. Due to the contamination of the Jews(?), he went away to Suczawa (then in Austria) in the local gymnaszie, then in Czernowitz and graduated in Vienna. He worked as a journalist in the German newspapers "Bukarester tagenblat" and "Rumenisher lyod."

After completing the gymnasium, he returned to Iasi and worked in Foter's bank business. In earlier times, he wrote reviews, and when Akselrad did not permit him to enlist his theatre due to bad reviews, L. brought in spite the competing troupe of Juvelier.

After graduating from the gymnazie, he returned to Iasi and worked in his father's banking business. In earlier times, he wrote theatre reviews, and when Akselrad did not permit him to enlist his theatre due to a bad review, L. brought it to Iasi, in spite of the competing troupe of Juvelier.

Around 1900 he performed alone as the lover in Juvelier's troupe, in Professor Hurwitz's play, "Shabtai tsvi", and remained in troupes, with whom he toured for several years across Romania, playing in Iasi. Then he joined the troupe of Gelis and with him went to Constantinople, where they acted for a year's time. From there he went over to Aaron Rosenblum's troupe in Bukovina, then he joined Treitler's troupe, and together with Jean Greenfield and Malvina Lobel went with Yiddish theatre to Manchester and Glasgow


(England). Here he split and went away to Lemberg, where he found the broken Gimpel troupe, which he reorganized, and with his initiative built the summer theatre (Jagelonska 11). L. also directed here and also once directed here a Saturday matinee.

After acting for a long time in Lemberg, L. toured for two years with Zelig Schorr's troupe, then acted in Romania in his own concession, later again joining and playing with Gimpel in Lemberg, then acted with Akselrad in Romania in his own concession, later guest-starring in London's Pavilion Theatre (together with Schilling), and playing a a season, then with Morris Moshkovitsh, later a season in London in the Empire Theatre with Joseph Kessler, then playing a season with Wertheimer in Budapest, where he acted in plays for four years an antraktn (because of this, the license to perform was only for a "singing and acting hall") [singing-and acting salon.]

Morris Moskovitsh said about him:

"After a guest-role with us (in London) Samuel Laresko (or Leresko, as others had called him). He was an intellectual human being and also composed several plays, among them, "Dr. Herzl." He translated the Romanian legendary play, "Meshterul monore," under the name, "Di eyngemoyerte froy," also "Barbara Ubrik," a Krakow cloister legend, which Bertha Kalich had played in Bucharest. As an actor he was capable. There he played with Moskovitch and Kessler.

Here Leresko even appeared as Mendl in Peretz Hirshbein's "Di nevulah [The Carcass]." He played it relatively well. His solidly built body was not made for that role, but his acting was bore it. First of all he expressed himself with nervous exasperation, and then the complete seduction, the craziness of the unlucky one. He also performed in mile end empire [meyl end empeyr]  "Nora" by Ibsen, in which Dinah Feinman played the main role. About him there are plenty of things to say, that thanks to his intelligence, he had wanted very much: people had joined him too."

In the summer of 1913 L. managed a troupe in Berlin, where he also acted and stage directed. In 1917 he played in the Ukraine, then traveled with member's troupes across Poland and Romania, a time also as a co-partner with Ziegler, and then with Sh. Iris, later independent. In 1926 he came to Vienna, where he remained to act for several years.

L. wrote many plays, including his "Doctor Herzel" (tseytbild), "Reyzele" (lebensbild), "Dos lemberger shneydermeydl", "Der mentshn-freser" (a drama, translated from "Der birgelekher toyt"), "Di eyngemoyerte froy" (after a song by Aleksander) [According to Jacob Mestel, according to an assertion by Romanian actors, "Di eyngemoyerte froy" is a translation of a Romanian play "Meshterul manore"], and "Moshe rabeinu" (operetta). All of the plays were staged.

L. also composed many musical numbers for a variety of songs, often by himself conducted his operetta orchestras. He also wrote humorous one-acters and translated the drama "Barbara Ubrik, a cloister history of Krakow."

During the outbreak of the Second World War, L., together with his wife, the actress Adela, could be found in Czernowitz, from where the Nazis deported them to Transnistria. The living conditions were frightening: degradation, hunger, filth, and at the start of 1943 L. became sick with typhus and died.

According to his grandson Shmuel Hral, who was with him in the camp, and by a miracle had been saved, and is found today in the Land of Israel, by being buried in a water-closet.

Sh.E. from Clara Paul.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," New York, 1934, Vol. 2, p. 1171-1172.

  • Morris Meyer -- "Yidish teater in London," London, 1942, pp. 278-279.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4528.

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