Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Esther-Rukhl Kaminska Theatre Museum
(at YIVO in Vilna [now in New York City -- ed.)

The central gathering for all material relating to Yiddish theatre and Yiddish drama, it was founded by the Yiddish Scientific Institute in the year 1927 (1925 -- ed.), founded in the building of YIVO (Vilna, Vivulskio gasse, 18).

The foundation of the theatre museum was supplied by the actors Ida Kaminska and Zygmunt Turkow after the death of Esther Rukhl Kaminska, through a rich collection of material associated with the scenic activity of the "mother of Yiddish theatre". This collection formed the nucleus of the theatre museum. Since then, an entire range of other collections has arrived from Nakhum Lipovski (Vilna), Joseph Winogradov (New York), David Herman (Warsaw), Noah Prilutski (Warsaw), Yitzhak Perkaf (sp) (London), B. Ebel (Galicia), Iser Bezman (Lodz), Tartshiner, Zalmen Zylbercweig (Tel Aviv), A. Kolodni et al. Of special value is the Rappel collection (scores and orchestral music from all of Goldfaden operettas, repertoires), and the collected manuscripts of Joseph Lerner and his wife Maria Lerner.

The collection of the theatre museum still enriches through the collection of the Yiddish Artists Union in Warsaw; directed by Jacob Shatzky (New York), individual actors, and the collectors from YIVO.

All of the material is distributed according to the following departments: Professional Yiddish Artists' Union; Artists without Collective (according to the alef-bet); Avraham Goldfaden; Jacob Gordin; "Vilna troupe", "Vikt", Yiddish art theatre in Moscow; Yiddish Art Theatre (New York), "Artef", Riga theatre, Kovno theatre, "Habima", "Ahl", children's theatre, revue theatres ("Chad Gadya", "Azazel", "Ararat", "Sambatyon", "Komet", "Gilarina", et al), marionettes ("Modikot"), small arts (Khile Grober et al), recitations (Hertz Grosberg et al), Mantz, song music, film, Yiddish productions in foreign tongues, Purim shpieles (plays), official documents (permissions, contracts, confirmations, a. az. v.); playwrights and dramatic works, written and printed, between them an entire zeltnheytn and tsenzurirte copies.

The general number exponantn of the theatre museum, (posters, glugbletlekh, programs, photographs, images, sculptures, theatre articles, reviews, costumes and other objects), over 10,000 drawings. They are all inventoried and carefully conserved.

The entire time the theatre museum is directed by Ume Olkenitski with the assistance of a range of privileged co-workers, Lisa Kantorovich, Goldstein et al.

  • Fanny Shapiro -- "The Theatre Museum, also known as Esther-Rachel Kaminska at YIVO", "Archive", Vilna, 1930, pp. 512-513.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 572.

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