Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Mark Arnstein


Born on 2 January 1878 in Warsaw, Poland, into a well-to-do family. His father was a iron manufacturer. He learned in a cheder, then completed the two-class elementary school of Germeyze, and three classes by Dickstein-Meisler's private gymnasium, and part-time worked at his father's plant. After his father's death, when the plant went over to partners. and A. for a certain time worked as a master in a foreign metal factory, giving him the opportunity for self-education. At the age of fourteen, he began acting in an amateur troupe, from which there later emerged the actors Adolf Berman and Titelman. The productions used be received each Shabbes and in other private venues.

In 1897 A. debuted in the Polish-Yiddish "Israelita", where he later composed, under the name of Andzshei Mareḳ, his first play in Polish, "Yefet's Daughter". Soon A. also began to publish poems in serious Polish literary organs, and from time to time also theatre reviews in "Israelita".

In 1900 he wrote in Polish in the span of several days a five-act drama, "Di khasidim", which was staged on 11 June 1900, with the famous Polish actors Karol Adwentowcz and Pshibilka-Potzatska.

On 25 September 1901 in the "Razamaytashetshi", there was staged A.'s one-acter in Polish, "Dos eybike lied", and in the same year a second play "Yehudah Librovitsh".

Under the effect of Dr. Yosef Luria, A. began to write Yiddish in "Yud". Here he also published his first dramatic piece in Yiddish, the one-acter about the life of workers, "Dos eybike lied", which was stated in Riga (Spivakovski and Sam Adler) on 28 August 1905, and was soon thereafter removed from the permanent repertoire of the various amateur circles.

In 1892 there was staged in Lodz's Polish theatre in Polish his four-act drama, "Pienyondze" (later in Yiddish it was called "Dos vilner bel-habitl"), the subject of which was built around the legend of the tragic life the famous Vilna cantor R' Yoel Dovid Levensyteyn. In 1903 the drama was published in Polish in "Israelita", and in the Russian translation of Yeyugeny Trapavsky which appears in a special book.

In Yiddish the play was staged first in 1905, also later he entered into the repertoire of the "Vilna Troupe", in book form first published in 1908 with an impact to the well-known Polish writer Stanislaw Fshibishevski, a close friend of the author.

On 11 April 1905 A.'s Polish translation and under his direction, there was staged in a Polish theatre in Warsaw Sholem Aleichem's play "Tsezayt un tseshprayt".

Standing close to one side of the Yiddish actors, and from the other times to the Yiddish literary family in Warsaw, with I. L. Peretz at its head, who strove to create a literary theatre, A. interested several people of mean in the Yiddish theatre, and on 19 May 1905 there opened in Warsaw the Bagatela Theatre, where A. was listed on the posters as director, but due to the internal conflicts (about shund and literature), he soon withdrew from this theatre, and in the same year A. participated in the founding and opening of a new theatre -- the Muranow. The first productions were Sholem Aleichem's "Tsezayt un tseshprayt", and Peretz's "S'brent", with the theatre there was created a special commission, in which I. L. Peretz was part of, along with Sholem Aleichem and David Frishman. The commission existed, however, for an entirely short time.

Soon thereafter A. transformed, with Dr. Rosenthal, the cabaret Jardin D'Hiver in a Yiddish theatre, but when the troupe began performing a shund repertoire, and A. [subsequently] withdrew from the theatre, and in 1906 he began to stage direct with the amateur group "Dramatic Arts" in Lodz.

In 1907 A. founded the first Yiddish literary troupe (personnel: Esther Rukhl Kaminsa, Miriam Trilling, L. Zhelazo, H. Vaysman, Jacob Libert, Sonia Edelman, Herman Serotsky, L. Zaslavski, Avraham Teitelbaum, Yermolina-Vaysman, Avraham Yitzhak Kaminski), which went on a tour with Pinski's, Gordin's, Libin's, Sholem Aleichem's, Arnstein's and translated plays ("Heymat" by Sudermann, "Nora" by Ibsen), over hmushb areas of Russia, and also in Peterburg, performing for the first time in a large theatre, and attracted to them the attention of the Jewish intelligentsia, and from the artist circles in Peterburg.

At the end of 1908 A. settled in Lodz as a regisseur of the "Dramatic Arts", which until 1910 staged the repertoire of Yiddish and European dramatists.

In 1910-12 A. was associated with Lodz's Polish theatre, where he stage directed several plays, and also staged his play "Noemi". At the same time he published in Reyzen's "Dos naye land", New York, his one-acter "Shvester un bruder" and "Mayn vaybs meshugas".

In 1912 A. went to Odessa where he staged in Russian in the municipal theatre his three-act drama "Koreleva sabat", which also later was performed by other Russian troupes. Here he also wrote an entire series of one-acters that were performed on the Russian miniature stages and were published in the monthly volumes of the journal "Teater i iskustvo".

In 1914 A. traveled to America, whre he staged his historical romantic drama "Der letser moshiakh", and his three-act drama "A yidishe tokhter" [Noemi].

In 1916, A. returned to Russia, where he was director of a Russian theatre in Vitebsk, worked with N. Zemach with the organizing of the "Habimah", and also was he first regisseur. After the October Revolution, A. tried to organize a Yiddish State Theatre, but the attempt proved itself not to be one, and at the end of 1919 A. returned to America, where he staged his comedies, "A zun fun tsvey natsionen" (11 March 1920, in the Irving Place Theatre, Schwartz the director), "Far der khasene", and "Di khasidishe tokhter".

In 1921 A. was regisseur in a Yiddish art theatre (director -- Schnitzer). Here he adapted and his "Vilner bel-habitl", wrote a musical drama, "R' Berenu", a drama "Dos lied fun libe un toyt", also a series of one-acters, stories, poems, etc., which he published in "Tsukunft", and in the daily press.

In 1923 A. went to Argentina, where he founded an amateur troupe with whom he visited the important Jewish communities of South America.

In 1924 he visited Chili, where he held presentations about Yiddish and Yiddish arts. Then A. staged in Rio de Janeiro his drama about Russian life "In roytn land".

In 1924 A. returned to Poland, and tried again to be associated with Yiddish theatre. He staged for the first time in Europe Sackler's "Yizkor", and then he returned to the Polish stage, staging later in his own translation and directed Anski's "Dybbuk" and Leivick's "Golem". (5 January 1928 in Lublin's municipal theatre).

Initially at the end of 1928 he managed to stage in Yiddish under his direction and dramatization Leivick's "Golem".

In 1929 A. in his own translation and adaptation in Polish staged with the Polish troupe in Lodz Jacob Gordin's "Mirele Efros", then he toured with this troupe and later also with other Polish troupes across Poland. This production evoked a lively discussion about problems: Yiddish theatre in Yiddish, or in other languages.

In 1928 A. issued through the publishing house "Kultur-lige" in two volumes a part of his one-acters.

Until today there was published from A. the following theatre shtik:

In Yiddish:

Mark Arnstein.

"Di vilner bel-habittl", a drama in four acts, Warsaw, Trs"kh, publisher "Ybnh", [1908, 102 pp., 16].

Mark Arnstein (Andzhey Mark).

Dramatic writings, I, publishing house "Kultur-lige", Warsaw [included in a new adaptation: 1) "Dos eybike lied", a scene of working life in one act. (earlier in "Yud", Krakow, 1901, then [1907] in a separate edition in the publishing house of B. Shimin, Warsaw, and later in an adaptated form in the publishing house "Kunst un lebn", Moscow, 1918.); 2) "Ver iz der ganev", a dramatic problem in one act (earlier in "Fraynt-yubileum-beylage, 1912); 3) "Mayn vaybs meshugas", a shpat in one act (earlier printed in Reyzen's "Dos naye land", New York, 17, 18, 1911, later in a separate edition [comedy] in the publishing house Max Yankovitch, New York, and also in the publishing house "Kunst un leben", Moscow, 1918); 4) "Shvester un bruder", a tragi-comedy in one act (first in Reyzen's "Dos naye land", New York, 15, 16, 1901, then in a separate edition in the publishing house "Kunstg un lebren", Moscow, 1918).
Mark Arnstein (Andzshei Mareḳ).

Dramatic writings, II, publishing house "Kultur lige", Warsaw [including: 1) "Di nekome" (published earlier as a drama in one act, in the publishing house A. Gitlin, Warsaw, 1919. [M. A. later published an editorial letter, that it was his own adaptation]; 2) "Ven di bleter faln", a dramatic nocturne in one act (at first published in New York's "Tsukunft", 1920); 3) "Der friling geyt!", a dramatic etude in one act (at first published in New York's "Tsukunft", 1914)' 4) "Ven der tayvl lakht", a shpat in one act, (at first published as a "comedy" in "Di tsayt", Los Angeles, 1922, and in "Groys un kleyn", Buenos Aires, 1923); 5) "Dem zeydns mkhnh", a comedy in one act to perform for Yiddish children (at first published in a children's journal by the Sholem Aleichem Folks Shul, New York, 1921); 6) "Di mkhshfh", a children's play in one act.

In Hebrew:

"Hshir hntskhi", khziun mkhii hihudim bmerkhh ekht, trgum yehoshue kntrubits, hutsah mh "hshpfh", Jerusalem Trs"z [1903, 16 pp., 16].

"Hshir hntskhi", mkhzh bmerkhh akht, trgum pesakh kpln, hutsat "habimah", Bialystok Tre"g, 1913 [19 pp., 16].

In Russian:
"Dos eybike lied", Peterburg, 1915.

In Polish:

In Spanish:

Cvando las Hojas caen. Nocturno dramtico, 1923, "Mundo Izraelito", Buenos Aires.

La Lagrima de Dios. Cuento para adultos, 1923. "Vida Neustra", Buenos Aires.

Cvando el diablo rie. Boceto dramtico, 1923. "Israel", Buenos Aires.

In English:

The Eternal Song, One-Act Plays from the Yiddish, 1923. Stewart Kidd Publishers, Cincinnati, U. S. A.

Sh. E.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 168-171.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, "List of plays".

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 214.

  • M. Y -- L. -- Mark arnshtayn in varshe, "Yidish bine", Warsaw, 3, 1924.

  • Mark Arnstein -- Vi azoy ikh bin gekumen tsu der bine, "Teat. tsayt", Warsaw, 4, 6, 1928.

  • Mark Arnstein -- Shpilstn a "tsadik" -- shpil ikh "khasidim", "Teat. tsayt", Warsaw, 8, 1929.

  • Dr. Michael Weichert -- Unzere menus tsu mark arnstein, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 28, 1928.

  • Mark Arnstein -- Ir zent gerekht, khver veichertn, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 31, 1928.

  • "Dos sholem-aleichem-bukh", New York, 1926, pp. 205-6.

  • Elchanan Zeitlin -- Mak arnshtayn, "Teat. tsayt", Warsaw, 6, 1928.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- Mark arnstayns epizoden fun yudishen teater, "Lubliner togblat", 27 July 1928.

  • Geshikhte fun di yidishe teatern in varshe, "Teat. tsayt", Warsaw, 1, 2, 5, 7, 1928.

  • Moshe Blecher -- Mark arnstayn oyffirung fun leiviks "golem" oyf yidish, "Teat. tsayt", 11-12, 1929.

  • Elchanan Zeitlin -- Mark arnshtayn, "Unzer ekspres", Warsaw, 22 February 1929.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Teater un drame", Warsaw, I, pp. 71-76.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- "Der vilner balebestel", "Der tog", N. Y., 12 October 1923.

  • L. Kesner -- "Vilner bel hbit'l" in iving plays, "Idishes tageblat", N. Y., 12 October 1923.

  • Olgin -- Zitsendig in teater, "Frayhayt", N. Y., 12 October 1923.

  • Yoel Slonim -- "Der letster moshikh" fun mark arnshtayn, "Di varhayt", N. Y., 11 February 1914.

  • Joel Entin -- Mark arenshtayn's "a idishe tokhter" in lobel teater, "Di varhayt", N. Y, 20 January 1914.

  • Jonas Turkow -- Yidish teater in yidish, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 33, 1929.

  • Mark Arnstein -- Vi ikh ze dos... "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 35, 1929.

  • Jonas Turkow -- Di "kemfer" far yidisher kultur, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 36, 1929.

  • Mark Arnstein -- Klore dvurim, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 39, 1929.

  • A. Grafman -- A ridl zamd, "Literarishe bleter", 49, 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 98.

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