Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yehoshua Feil

Born on 5 September 1885 in Hrubieszow, Poland. His father was a religious teacher. He strove to become an artisan or student, and not obtaining consent from his father, at the age of eleven he fled into the town of Pabiance, near Lodz, where he became an apprentice in a textile factory. Not being able to take the treatment of his boss, F. went away to Lodz, where he became an apprentice for franzn-work. At first in 1899 he became an artisan in this profession, and moving over to a local German theatre, he became aroused by the theatre. He got free entry into the theater and access to behind the curtains, and in 1903 he organized a Yiddish drama circle, in which he performed as "Pinchasl" in Goldfaden's "Kuni Lemel."

In 1905 he joined as a professional actor in the troupe of Sam Adler and Jacob Spivakovski, debuting as "Moshe Khasid" in Gordin's "Jewish King Lear." Due to his constant wandering, this often established and fell out of troupes, going on for the next two years in the troupes of Spivakovski, Zhitomirski, Sabsey, David Bronstein and Kompaneyets, who played across Ukrainian and Bessarabian towns, besides  Kompaneyets's torupe, which in 1907 was established in Warsaw. In the span of the time F. acted, here are the roles: "Izik" in Richter's "Hertsele meyukhes," "Max" in Feinman's "Khanele di neytorin," "Ismael" in Goldfaden's "The Sacrifice of Isaac," "Papus" in Goldfaden's "Bar kokhba," "Tsingetang" in Goldfaden's "Shulamis," "Alikum" in Goldfaden's "Kishufmakherin (The Sorceress)," "Nekhuml" in Richter's "Moshe Khayim," and "Yankele" in Latayner's "Dovid's Fidele (David's Violin)."


In 1908 F. played with Sam Adler in Lublin (Silberkasten), Ben-Ami, Freed, Lipman, Neroslavska), who united with Spivakovski, but soon separated and united with Meyerson until 1910. In that the torpe also came out to play with Teitelbaum, M. Weissblatt (later Michalesko), Liovke Brown, F. Finkel, Sandler, Rabinowitz, Libertovska, Fannie Reiber et al. Soon there will be another run off from troupe to troupe. In 1910 a piece of time in a collective with Bidesko and Doktorov, then with Korik, later with Rotenstein, three years with Genfer, and from there with George and Becker, again returning  to Sam Adler, after to Sharavner. In 1916 he joined Libert's troupe (in Nikolaev), where Jacob Libert, M. Libert, H. Weissman, S. Edelman, N. Edelman, Rosa Brin, Sh. Brin, et al played.

In the span of 1909 until 1917 F. came to lay the following roles: "Berele' in Schorr's "A mentsh zol men zayn (Be a Man!)," "Motele" in Gordin's "Got, mentsh un tayvl (God, Man and Devil)," "Shemaya" in Feinman's "Shabes kodesh," "Bennie" in Schorr's "Di amerikanerin," "Kvekzilber (Quicksilver)" in Schorr's "Shir hashirim (Song of Songs)," ""Noakh" in Hirshbein's "In a farvarfenem vinkl (In a Faraway Corner)," and "Donnie" in Gordin's "Mirele efros."

At the Yiddish artists' convention in Russia (in Kiev), in 1917 F. was taken into the cooperative troupe number 1 (among them: H. Weissman, Menachem Rubin, Brandesko), who began to play in Kremenchug, then in Minsk and in Kiev, where it united with Libert's troupe, and there F. played until 1919. F. became chosen as a member of the management of the Kiev Art Workers Union, and together with Y.L.Boimvol et al organized in Kiev the first Jewish State Theatre "Unzer Vinkl (Our Corner)."

In September 1920 F. participated as a delegate in the first convention of the "Kunst-Tuer (Art Workers?)" in Kiev, and was elected as a member of the presidium, and a member in the management, and he was invited by the Homler government management of the people's education to become manager of the local art section. A short time later F. was appointed director and organizer of the first state gypsy "Roman." In 1932 F worked as an assistant director in Moscow's circus (Gometz). In 1933 he was director in Moscow's "First Workers Artistic Theatre."

In "Emes" there is, after his biography, he became a jubilee, saying:

"Traveling around over towns and villages, going over from one troupe into the other, working very much and living a life of a Yiddish actor in the Czarist times, suffering from hunger and need, troubles from the police masters and pristaves. Every trouble very often used to come suffering from the directors, who used to search as far as possible to exploit the actor. Often, he would seem to be struggling with them. In 1911 Feil led a strike in Sam Adler's troupe.  He organized by himself a friendly collective, and it comes down to looking for the various police assaults, sometimes under a German veil, and sometimes in a different way a Jewish play smuggled onto the stage.

...Feil has a good understanding, that the old Yiddish theatre as no further perspectives and must perish. All this compelled F. to go away from the old Yiddish theatre, tearing it up completely. Feil then started a very important part of theatrical work -- to the administrator."

In 1937 until August 1941 F. was assistant director in Moscow's "Theatre Leninski Komsomol." From August 1941 until 1944 -- director of the theatre for young audiences. From 1944 to 1948 he was a director of the studio for opera. From 1948 until 1948 he was the assistant director  in Moscow's circus, then he received a state pension, and societal activity in the central home for workers in art.

F. also wrote in Russian his live history with biographical facts and characteristics about certain actors with whom he played, and it was published in Moscow in 1938 (98 pp.), in a book, "Dos lebn fun a yidishn aktyor," published through the Alrusisher Teatraler Gezelshaft.

Sh.E. from Y. Lubomirski and Mark Leiptsiger.

  • [--] -- Teater un kino, Ay. D. Fiel, "Der emes," Moscow, 26 January 1928.

  • [In Russian] -- Y. Feil -- "Dos lebn fun a yidishn aktyor," Moscow, 1938.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3595.

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