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  ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  MEIR MESTEL


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City


 

Meir Mestel
 

Born in March 1902, in Zlotshev, Galicia, to not well-to-do parents; artisans of his father's side and merchants of his mother's side, a close relative to the Margolies family (Berl Broder). M. is the younger brother of the actor and writer Jacob and Yitskhok Mestel.

He learned in a cheder and in a folkshul, then acted in the state teachers seminary and in the conservatory for claviers (?) in Lemberg. He had a desire for the stage and to participate in the Yiddish dramatic circles in Lemberg, where he also performed in scenes and in one-acters. As a professional actor he debuted as a professional in 1919 in the provincial member troupe of F. Boritz as 'Dr. Schwartz" in Lateiner's "Shliomke un rikl."

Acting under the worst artistic and material conditions, he suggested (?) a return home to Lemberg, but soon he traveled again out to the province with various "khap-troupes" [quickly put together] theatre troupes, and later under better conditions, played under the direction of N. Glimer, Meltzer, Gimpel, and in L. Potocka's troupe during her tour across the province.

In 1924 he played in "VIKT" in Lemberg.

Jonas Turkow characterized him in this way:

This was an idealistic and modest young man, who had from the first moment made the best impression. This pedantic man was elegant, friendly and dear Meir Mestel had at that time belonged to

 


the nearest circle of my Lemberg friend. Later we came to work together with him (during Diana Blumenfeld and my performance in Lemberg), and I sincerely loved him. He belonged to the rare types of theatre people who were not involved in any gossip and theatre slander, but do their job perfectly. He had love for the theatre in every fiber of his soul, and always strove to play better theatre, although it was not only him who was successful under the prevailing conditions in the Lemberg theatre.

Meir Mestel was an example of punctuality and discipline. [He] always was the first in the theatre: during the rehearsals, as well as the productions. He knew every role he received to play with comprehension, intelligence, and what is the main thing, he gets down to you with the greatest responsibility. Indeed, therefore, he belongs to the Yiddish actors, who one gladly engages for a theatre. If I have no mistakes, it is never Meir Mestel who goes blank, although he does not belong to the 'singing' young actors, who were so in the style of the average Yiddish theatre.

When I have finished my season in the 'Krakow Yiddish Social Theatre,' I guest-starred in Lemberg, and then I toured with a troupe in the province, and Mestel was among the first who was engaged. To the last time I had seen him during the eve of the Second World War, when I arrived at the Lemberg to take over the administration of the newly build Yidish theatre on the place of the former Gimpel theatre. ...Soon on the first day after Lemberg was taken by the Red Army, there a Yiddish theatre was engaged under the direction of Shlomo Prizament, Gershon Rot and Henryk Luft. They had played in the ' Coliseum Theatre' on Slonetshna Street 33, and Meir Mestel belonged to that troupe. When later the Yiddish State Theatre in Lemberg was organized, Mestel also worked there.

When the Germans took Lemberg, Meir Mestel, together with a part of the troupe from the State Theatre, were found in Rovne, where they performed. Mestel, however, continued on to his home and, together with the actress Ruzha Fuchs, he left and went back to Lemberg. On the way the Germans captured them. Ruzha  from the murderous hands and returned to Lemberg, where she later perished in a shoddy way. Meir Mestel, the kind, beloved man and friend found his martyred death on the way home was tormented by the Germans."

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," Warsaw, Vol. II, p. 1375.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. II.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3891.
 

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