Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Jacobo Flapan
(Yakov; Yankev)

F. was born on the 12th of July, 1897 in Grodzisk in the Warsaw area of Poland. He learned Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Polish and Russian from his father who was a teacher. In his youth he lived in Kovno, where he began his devotion to literature.

 In 1929, he visited an institute for the German language and literature in Berlin. Shortly after that he immigrated to Argentina where he becomes a hairdresser. F. was an early founder, leader and director of the Yiddish experimental theatre "Idrams (Yiddish Dramatic Studio)" in Buenos Aires. He also put out several books.

F. died on the 23rd of March in 1936 in Cordoba Argentina.

Ch. Y. Linkovsky wrote:

"He should have been a colleague of the three (M. Faktorovsky, Dovid Greenspan, and Yakov Flapan) who were teachers and also directors. The collective organization however, did not materialize. These three were very incompatible. Yakov Flapan’s stormy undertakings to clean out the bourgeoisie cultural filth with a theatrical blast and screaming out the proletarian wisdom to the ears of the deaf world; staging a spectacle which would, from its


top, spit into fascism’s rotten form. What’s more the actors had to learn how to accustom themselves to speak in this manner. With their words on stage, to be able to storm the gates of heaven and cause thunderous reactions in this world. Thus would the participants fly to the highest heights. And the storm with the strong slogans would be screamed out in the loudest voices. These devices would push aside the indifferent, quiet but intelligent Greenspan. Faktorovsky was also not comfortable with Flapan’s approach. He had modernistic theatre aspirations. Flapan’s dreams, however, of high mountains, his loft theatrical ambitions sweetly inebriated the other members of his studio. They encircled him and stuck by him. Finally he remained the one and only teacher in the school term 1933-1934. He was also the one and only theatre director who staged in their studio the first two stage presentations. "The Negro" (Hold the Fort) by Chaver-Paver, in 1933, and the Soviet play "Koilin" (Bullets) by Galitshnikov and Popp in 1934. They also staged many other short performances and one-act plays.

Yakov Flapan's theatre knowledge was very far removed from his poetic fantasies and theatrical undertakings. Even the theatrical ideas that he accumulated through his wanderings all over European towns and cities were, to his comrades in the studio, hard to accept. They used to, however, feel and were permeated with his perpetual novel undertakings to be astonished enough to soar.

(Linkovsky describes what took place during the first performance.) The one and only person who was the calmest, in fact, was the most nervous of them all. He was the one who carried the greatest responsibility for the biggest accomplishments; for the biggest start-ups—the director himself, Yakov Flapan.

The presentation "Koilin" had even more success that the "Negro." … 'Idrams’ was actually much more than a mere studio, since it was a theatre; a worker’s theatre. At that time, they also had to consider who to ask to direct future activities. Yakov Flapan had in his two previous productions achieved through his energy and fantasy, to light the flame which shone with a red glow upon the actors as well as the spectators during his two years. It was, however, difficult to keep the fire burning. It appears that his health had begun to break down. It seems that his final illness had already started to develop. This illness would only a year later end his influential life.

 Flapan was even then tired of non-ending discussions and making impressions with his revolutionary theatre theories. The studio comrades also grew tired. The stylized pointedness that Flapan had created in the movement, in the writing, the acting even from the start enthralled people with its newness, with its otherness, but Flapan was hard to hold onto by those in the studio of the Idrams presented the problem-- A director."

  • "Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature," Vol. 7, N.Y., 1968, pp. 400-401.

  • Y. Linkovsky -- Di ershte oyffirung, "Di neger," 30 yor "Ift.," Buenos Aires, 1962.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 7, page 6245.

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