Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Harry Hoffenberg

 Born circa 1895 in Galicia, descended from a very religious family. When he was young he arrived in America, worked in shops, was associated with a drama circle, and finally became prompter in professional Yiddish troupes, at the same time writing lebensbilds and melodramas.

According to D. Miller in his book about Yiddish theatre in Detroit, there there was staged on 6 October 1933 H.'s lay "Nart nit mayn mame", and shortly thereafter his play "Far ir shvesters glik".

  • On 17 June 1934 -- "Di ershte nakht (The First Night)" (played with the participation of Moyshe Oysher and Florence Weiss).

  • On 9 January 1934, there was staged (for the benefit of the director Littman) H.'s play, "2000 Years".

  • In October 1937 in New York, there was staged H.'s melodrama "In a yidisher heym".

  • On 26 September 1938 in Brooklyn's "Hopkinson" Theatre, there was staged "Der eybiker nigun (The Eternal Melody)" by Hoffenberg and Simon Wolf (with the participation  of Max Wilner, Chana and Isidor Hollander, Simon Wolf and Jacob Suzanov).

  •  In April 1939 in Chicago, in the "Douglas Park" Theatre, there was staged H.'s play "Itsik zukht a kale"

  • On 9 October 1943 in the Brighton Theatre, New York, there was staged H.'s musical comedy, "Ikh lib dikh" (music -- A. Schwartz).

  • In December 1947 in the Bronx's "Art" Theatre, there was staged H.'s musical comedy in two acts and four scenes "Fraylekhe teg", under the direction of Max Lasky, lyrics and music -- Harry Shleker.

H. also was a stage director in the McKinley Square Theatre (directors -- Herman Yablokoff, Leon Schechter and Max Lasky), and also participated in the film taken from Yablokoff's play "Papirosen".

H. also wrote a play "A brivele der mamen", which was performed by various troupes and was staged in the "Civic Playhouse" in Los Angeles, as a musical play in two acts and five scenes by Oscar Ostroff and Harry Hoffenberg, adapted into English from Samuel Rudens, music by Samuel Solomon (with Rose Wallerstein and Abe Lax in the main roles).

On 1 August 1960, H. passed away in New York.

Z. Zylbercweig remarks:

"Hoffenberg was what people call 'a quiet person (shtil mentshl)', and "a meydl fir ales". He served the theatre as a prompter, role rewriter, stage director, a portrayer of a role and mainly he wrote a whole package of plays, some times he was forced to taken into the play a partner if it had changed a director of the troupe where the play was staged. Some plays were later performed with small changes, in the name of ostensibly other composers.

He was a little closed up and didn't speak about himself. He didn't remain married. It had ordered (geheysn) that he had in Detroit a brother who was a shokhet (ritual slaughterer), but all efforts to learn more about his offspring or private life have not been successful.

Sh. E. from Zalmen Zylbercweig.

  • William Edlin -- A melodrame blumr8sht fun "idishen" leben, "Tog", N. Y., 23 October 1937.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- "Der eybiger nigun", staged in the Hopkinson Theatre, same, 8 October 1938.

  • [--] -- [Dr. A. Margolin] -- "Itsik zukht a kallah" -- in doglas park teater "idisher kurier", Chicago, 7 April 1939.

  • I. L. Wohlman -- "Fraylekhe teg" -- a naye piese in bronsker art teater, "Tog", N. YU., 19 December 1947.

  • Herman Yablokoff -- "Arum der velt mit idish teater", New York, Vol. II, 1969, pp. 279-280.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 7, page 6278.

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