Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Michal Fridman


Born in 1894 [according to Mark Leyptsiker, in 1892] in Warsaw, Poland, into a poor family. Father -- a bl-eglh. He learned in a cheder, and at age twelve he took to working as a compositor. From childhood on, he felt a pull to the stage, not even having seen a theatre production, he gave with children "spectacles" in the attic. At the age of fifteen, he participated in Jacob Feinstein's "children's troupe". In 1909 he became a professional actor and acted in Paris with Morris Vaksman, and since 1910 was connected with itinerant troupes across Russia in which he acted in several roles, such as "Shmuel Yosel" in "Di shekhith", "Vladmir" in "Chasia the Orphan", and also characters and comics and father roles.

In his autobiography, he writes: "Wandering across the entirety of the Ukraine, acting almost in all the Yiddish troupes. Rarely came a moralistic satisfaction. Of the material side it was already self-evident. Not once, after acting in a main role, he geleygt zikh sholfn a hungeriker". In 1914, after the First World War began, he entered into a troupe etc of Brandesko in Genitshesk (Crimea), then in Melitopol, across to the troupe of A. Kompaneyets and later with various troupes. In 1919 he entered into the Kiev Jewish State Theatre "Unzer vinkl", and as he related in his autobiography: "It was the first in my internal theatre path. Even though the material conditions were still poor. That was my first happy time in the theatre, but the happiness did not last long, with the coming of the white bandes, became our theatre's downfall". It was founded through the initiative of showman Y. Feyl, a

collective with him and the actors Rubin, Weissman, Edelman, Sarah Fridman, Klebanov, who toured with a literary repertoire across Kremenchug, Romni and Homel.

In 1925 F. founded, together with other Yiddish actors, the theatre studio "Fraykunst", under the direction of Moscow's artistic theatre, Boris Vershilov, where he acted. Until 1928, when he was an actor and regisseur in the State Jewish movable (baveglekhn) theatre of the Ukraine. 1928-30 -- leader of a drama workshop in Kremenchug. 1930-31 -- artistic leader of a Jewish movable theatre "Royter hamer".

In 1933, when the Birobidzhan Jewish State Theatre was founded under the auspices of Emanuel Kozakevitsh and regisseur Efrayim Loyter, F. was invited as an actor and regisseur. Thanks to his teachers in Moscow, Vershilov, Gortshakov, Teleshov, Ezeriay Azarin-Messerer and the folk artist Moshe Goldblatt, F. developed his directorial knowledge, and had in the span of fifteen years was regisseur in this theatre, the possibility of putting together and staging an entire range of plays, such as "S'brent" by I. L. Peretz, "Zeks balibte" by Arbuzov, "Sender Blank" by Sholem Aleichem, "A lektsye fun lebn" by Holovitshiner, "Mirele efros" by Jacob Gordin, "Di geyster" by Henrik Ibsen, and, together with Y. Helfman, "Der oyfshtand in geto" by Peretz Hirshbein.

In 1949 F. went over to Slonim (now in White Russia), as an artistic director  of the White Russia Folks Theatre in which he staged a series of plays from Russian and White Russian repertoire, and for his directorial work, he became bashonkn for the White Russian government with two honorary awards and was given the title of "Fardinstfuler kultur-tuer of White Russia", and also received a state medal.

In 1966 F. had, as pensioner, settled in Yalta, Crimea. In N. Auslander's book "Yidisher teater", a part of his theatre memoirs was published.

F.'s wife, Sarah, has acted on the Yiddish stage.

M. E. and Sh. E. by Mark Leyptsiger and Feivish Arones.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5041.

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