Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Egon Brecher


Born on 18 February 1880 in Olmütz, Moravia (now Olomouc, Czech Republic -- ed.). His grandfather was Gideon Brecher, a medical doctor, a Talmud scholar. His father was Professor Moritz Brecher, the rosh hakhol in Prossnitz and Brünn, Moravia. He completed an ober real school in Brünn.

In 1900 B. became an actor in Heidelberg, and he went around since 1910 with a German troupe across the provinces of Austria and Germany, also acting in Berlin.

Due to his interest in the "Yiddish" theatre, B. in 1900 staged in Vienna in German with semi-professionals Dr. Hertzel's "Neye geto (New Ghetto)". In 1907, he founded there, together with the poet Dr. Hugo Zuckermann of Vienna a Yiddish arts theatre in German, in which B. directed with semi-professionals plays of Peretz, Asch, Koralnik and Pinski's "Eybiker Yid (Eternal Jew)" (with the participation of David Herman).

From 1910 until 1921, B. was associated in Vienna with the Jarno theatres (city theatre, Theatre in der Josefstadt), performing there as an actor and theatrical director in the productions of Strindberg, Ibsen and Wedekind, as well as in classical repertoire. In the comedy house, B. also staged in German Pinski's "Isaac Sheftel", "Gabri and the Women" and "The Treasure" (with Schildkraut) and Hirshbein's "Contract (aka 'The Agreement')".


In 1919 B. became a teacher of diction and declamation in the dramatic school (Director Jacob Mestel) of the "Freie yidishe folksbine". In 1920-1 B. was associated with the "Frie yidishe folksbine" as a theatrical director, also giving his name (together with Yitzhak Deytsh) as the director of the theatre. Learning Yiddish, B. performed in Yiddish as "Yankel Shapshovitsh" in Asch's "God of Vengeance", then he directed Chirikov's "Yidn" and Hirshbein's "The Agreement" with Baratov, and enabled it that the well-known German-Yiddish theatre director from Vienna, Josef Jarno, should invite the Yiddish troupe to perform in his theatres.

In 1921 B. became engaged to Max Wilner in New York's Irving Place Theatre, in which he performed as "Nathan the Wise" by Lessing (translation by Shmuel Yakov Imber), and he soon went over to the English stage, performing as the "second tramp" in Molnar's "Liliam" with the Theatre Guild.

When the "Unzer Theatre" was founded, under the direction of Hirshbein, Pinski, Leivik and Elkin, B. became excited as both the theatrical director and actor, and he performed as "Dn" in An-ski's "Day and Night", which he helped with the direction. Afterwards, B. directed Pinski's "The Final Balance" and acted in the main role in Raboy's "Shtekhik drot (Prickly Wire)". When the theatre closed, B. went back to the English stage, where he participated in two plays, together with Lionel Barrymore, and since 1925 he has acted in civic repertory theatre with Eva La Gallienne, where he also occupied himself with directing.

Sh. E.

Sh. E. by Yehuda Bleich and M. E. from Jacob Mestel.

  • Freie yidishe folksbine -- "Presesht'men", Vienna [1921].

  • Shakhna Epstein -- Di "habima"-kinstler in a farkhshuftn kreyz, "Frayhayt", 22 December 1926.

  • Ben Neyten -- Er iz gekumen in amerike shpilen oyf der idisher bine un hot zikh gemakht a nomen oyf der englisher, "Der tog", New York, 14 February 1930.

  • Mollie B. Steinberg -- Interesting People, "The Jewish Tribune", N. Y., February 7th, 1930.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 247.

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.