Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Misha Besarabov


B. was born on 6 March 1894 in Soroki, Bessarabia. His parents were the owners of a distillery, who moved over to Kishinev, where B. learned in the real school, and received for his drawings a medal from the arts academy in Peterburg. B. learned Yiddish subjects with the playwright Z. Halles.

After the age of nine, B. participated in the Russian production of Pushkin's "Karger riter (The Covetous Knight)", and later, when he was learning in the real school -- in the school productions. Being in Moscow B. learned in the Tsarist theatre school under the leadership of Goriev and Ukhov, and in the Technicum.

B. then entered into the Russian troupe of Basmanov, with whom he acted for three summers in Smolensk, three months in Poltava and two winter seasons in Odessa. In the summer of 1915 B. acted in a tour with Moscow's small state theatre (Sambatov), which was mobilized and sent to the Caucases' front, where he was once wounded.

In 1918 B. entered into the Yiddish troupe of Sheyn in Kishinev, but he was soon once again mobilized, and he then went over to the Russian operations in Odessa. Here he learned for two years in a conservatory and when the Bolsheviks took over power, he crossed over to drama in the Red Army theatre under the name of Sverdlov, and he was sent over as the leader and regisseur of the

theatre to the Bessarabian front. After the Front-[brukh], B. wandered over to Bessarabia, where he became regisseur and manager of the Russian dramatic troupe, opened the operatic-dramatic studio in "Dos Polsky", where he became the leader of the dramatic section and the teacher of direction and declamation in a gymnasium. At the end of 1920 B. directed in Yiddish Asch's "Mitn shtrom" for the Yiddish "Kultur-lige (Culture League)".

Due to military reasons, B. traveled to America in 1921, where he became engaged to Bernard Young in the Liberty Theatre, 1922-3 B. acted in vaudeville with Russian "amateurs", worked for two years as an employee in "HIAS". In 1925-6 B. acted with Julius Nathanson in Boston, in 1926-7 for a short time in the Lenox Theatre, did various trades. In 1927-8 he B. acted in Toronto, where he also was the leader of the chorus in the Sunday open forums. In 1929-30 he was in Pittsburgh.

M. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 194.

Translation courtesy of Yefin Kogan and Steven Lasky.

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