Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Berta Fishler

According to Julius Gutman, F. was born circa 1875 in Lemberg, Galicia, to poor parents. Her father was a coachman. She learned in a folksshul. Due to her beautiful voice Eskreyz took her into the chorus of the local Yiddish theatre (director--Gimpel), where in a short time she received small roles, and as she displayed stage abilities, she went over very quickly to larger roles.

F., who began as a soubrette, later crossed over to dramatic roles, and in Galicia she was the first to embody the main woman's roles of Gordin's repertoire. She also played in Maeterlinck's "Monna Vanna," Ibsen's "Nora," and other well-known plays in Yiddish and European literary repertoire. In Bader's "Calendar" she excelled as a "first-class dramatist." F. later crossed over to roles for grand-dames, and in Galicia especially won fame in the role of "Mirele Efros" and other roles.

After her marriage in 1912 to the judge Madanier, she withdrew from the stage.

Israel Ashendorf writes:

"In the town where I was born and spent my childhood years, once the news had spread spread that a new notary public had come down, and this was -- a Jew. I had heard of a Jewish doctor, of a Jewish lawyer, but a notary public -- this actually somehow was an extraordinary thing. This notary public came with a wife and a youngster. This youngster was somewhere in a big city, studying in a gymnasium and came to his parents during vacation time. We, the cheder youths, had admired his student uniform, and the golden band on his head. It turns out that the wife of the notary public and the mother of the student, was a Yiddish artist in Gimpel's theatre. Indeed she was now called Madanierova, but her maiden name under which she had acted in Yiddish was Fishler."

According to Benjamin Ressler, F. was a wondrous beauty. Although she went away from the theatre, she remained a true colleague to the profession, and when at times a troupe used to pass through the town in which she was living, she would accept the actors with a great friendship. Around 1921 she, with her husband, arrived in Lemberg as a guest.
Precisely then there was a strike in Yiddish theatres against the director Gimpel, and the striking actors arranged for productions to be [staged] ; F. soon agreed to perform with them in the productions, among them in "Mirele Efros."

M.E. from Julius Gutman, Gershom Bader and Benjamin Ressler.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," N.Y., 1923, Vol. 2, p. 147.

  • Israel Ashendorf -- S.M. Gimpel's Theatre in Lemberg, "Gedenk bukh galitsye," Buenos Aires, 1964, p. 31.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5767.

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