Writing about this period Sh. Bliacher wrote:
"From those days we can locate a long list of Witalin’s
works, which were as memorable, outstanding, colorful
personas; e.g. the "Market Woman" in I.D. Berkowitz’s "Moshke
the Pig." Another noteworthy work she created was in the
role of the "Chicken Plucker" in Dymow’s "Yoshke the
Musician." The play too was acclaimed as a masterwork.
What’s more, after a whole line of splendid stage
characters in which W. appeared at that time, W. was an
unparalleled dramatic actress. But she never performed
in the "A. G. Shund Theatre." Except for one time, when
she was tempted with a certain role in a melodrama. The
artist Kutner at that time in Riga produced a play "Berele
Bosak." He hired W. to perform as a mother. Here too she
shone. When W. played a role she filled the words
written on paper into a living soul. But she never could
forgive herself for allowing them to talk her into
playing the role in that theatre. She did, however,
redeem her "sin" with a whole array of memorable
personas in the better Yiddish dramas. She was a fine "Yetty-Meny"
in Sholem Aleichem’s "200,000." W. was a charming "Rokhl"
in Hirshbein’s "Green Fields," and a splendid
"Grandmother" in An-sky’s "Dybbuk." She displayed much
feeling and good heartedness in her role in the "Maid"
in "Kiddush Hashem" ("The Martyr"), and a whole line-up
of women for the four years that she played in Riga. In
1931 she returned once more to Poland. Here she
undertook a long tour with the "Vilna Troupe." She
played the "Rabbi’s Wife" in An-sky’s "Day and Night,"
the "Madam" in Bergelson’s "The "Pigeon Flyer." In 1933
she returned to Vilna and decided to stay on for a
longer run in the theatre and once again started to
practice dentistry and community work. Among other
activities she becomes an administrator/volunteer in the
Vilna Theatrical Association."
A characteristic episode is told by Sh. Bliacher:
In Vilna, on German Street # 35, in the entranceway to a
building, there hung a sign: "P. Shimliska, Dentist." On
the third story moving around was an attractive woman in
a white robe filling teeth, curing some toothaches and
taking others out. For each of her patients she had a
good word to offer. Suddenly, talking with a patient who
had a toothache on a stool we were looking at the doctor
herself. She seemed familiar... And she, seeing the
patients painful expression, would smile: "What are you
look at me that way?" -- She would ask? "You look so
familiar to me. Where have I seen you before?" "Me? I
think you saw me in the theatre. I am, you see, the
actress Frida Vitalina."
In 1936 W. played in Vilna in the "Vilna Theatre" with
Jonas Turkow. There she portrayed one of her most
memorable characters: "The Teacher Vimmer" in Fedor’s
"Matura." After Turkow left Vilna, she once again ceased
playing in regular Yiddish theatre at the founding in
1939 for "Yiktov" ("Yiddishe Kunst Theatre") in Vilna.
About her last years and her tragic death, Sh. Bliacher
"In the ensemble she played one of the most important
parts. ...She played the mother-role in the "Platoon
Tavern" and in "My Son," and in a whole array of smaller
roles. Due to a misunderstanding she was arrested and
jailed for a few days in the Lukishker jail. After the
Nazi occupation of Vilna she was arrested during the
first few days of the Occupation. But once more lady
luck was on her side and she was freed. At first she
worked in the Second Ghetto in their health center.
Later she moved to the larger First Ghetto, where she
worked for an even longer time in the Health Department.
When Jews were transferred to the factories in the
Second Ghetto she was among them. Here W. together with
a group of artists who were also moved there. After
being there for a few days she tried to escape, but alas
it failed. On a teary September morning, the stagehand
Shlomo Feinberg, who was in hiding in the unit where he
worked, saw how on Legianver Street they were herding
Jews in the direction of the Ponar Forest. Among them
were a large number of artists with their heads held
high and striding with them with pride was Frieda
Sh. Kacerginski points out:
Frida Vitalina (her birth name was Shimeliska), from her
husband her family name was -- Lapin) was born in 1881
in Vilna an actor from the Vilna Troupe (she was famous
for playing mother roles.)
She tried to run away but due to the constant bombing on
the roads she turned around and returned to Vilna.
V. was arrested immediately after returning. She had an
opportunity to be released from prison. She was sent to
the Second Ghetto, and from there along with all the
other Jews to Ponar.
"Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre," New York, 1931, Vol.
I, pp. 669-670.
Sh. Kacerginski -- "Khurbn vilne," New York, 1947,
Zygmunt Turkow -- "Di ibergerisene tkuph," Buenos
Aires, 1961, p. 290.
Sh. Bliacher -- "Eyn un tsvantsik un eyner," New
York, 1962, pp. 49-51.