Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Adam Mesko


Born in 1864 in Anikst, Kovno Gubernia, Lita (Lithuania). Father -- a pious man, a heymisher mechanic from a mill. Until the age of nineteen he learned in religious elementary schools (chederim) and houses of study (Beit HaMedrashim) in the town and in the communities. As a response to the "greater world," he fled to Vilna, where he learned for a year in Rameiles' kloyz, a year in a Novogrudok Beit HaMedrash, then went way to Koenigsberg, where he learned for six months in a local school and [then] immigrated to London, where he learned for nine months in an English school, a year with a Hebrew teacher, and he then became a buyer of flour and yeast.

M. became a member in the National party "Krimh" and debuted with an article in their Yiddish journal "The National Voice." In 1887 he published songs in the journal "Di tsukunft." Here he also met with the local Yiddish actors and began to write plays. His first play "Di yidishe kolonistn in palestine [The Jewish Colonists in Palestine], a national drama with songs in four acts" (music by A.Z. Yarikhovski) was in 1890 staged in Weincourt Hall (with Max Rosenthal, Jacob and Sonia Katzman, Fanny Waxman, Joseph Goldstein and Adolph Kempner) in a benefit performance for "Kadima."

1892 -- immigrated to America, and in 1893 in New York's Roumanian Opera House there was staged his "Dos kin in vald, a melodrama in four acts" (with Rudolph Marks, S. Tobias, Avraham Yitzhak and Berta Tanzman, and Mary Wilensky).

In 1895 in the Atlantic Garden, there was staged M.'s "The Vampire, a melodrama in three acts" (with Jacob Goldstein, Sam Lowenfeld, Harry Miller and Mae Simon), and in the Thalia Theatre his adaptation of "Troubadour" (with David Kessler, Regina Prager, Leyzer Goldstein, William Conrad and S. Tobias.)

In 1896 in Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre, there was staged M.'s play "Malke Shvo" with music by Eliyohu Zalmen Yarikhovski, and in New York's Thalia Theatre his translation of the operetta "Tsigayner baron" (with David Kessler, Regina Prager, Leyzer Goldstein, William Conrad and Paulina Edelstein).

In 1897 in the Thalia Theatre there was staged M.'s translation "Foygl-hendler," with David Kessler, S. Tobias, William Conrad, Leyzer Goldstein, Frieda Ziebel, Mary Wilensky and Paulina Edelstein, and in 1898 it was staged--according to B. Gorin-- in the same theatre there was staged M.'s "The Daughter of Jerusalem, or, The Romanian Tyrant, a comedy in four acts, adapted from the comedy, "Der royb fun der sabinerin," (with David Kessler, Sigmund and Dina Feinman, Regina Praper, Sonia Nadolska, S. Tobias, William Conrad and M. Chaimowitz.)

In 1902 in the Thalia Theatre there was staged M.'s lebensbild in four acts, "Fortuna, oder, Di getin fun glik, oder, Mary di shusterke," which later was staged only under the last name. The play is M.'s free adaptation from the German farce, "Dray far shuhe," and was performed under the stage direction of B. Wilensky. (most of the time in Yiddish programs Wilensky's name was given as the adapter of the play, and it still continues to be cited in B. Gorin's "History of Yiddish Theatre," and also in Wilensky's biography in the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre [Vol. I, p. 719]. In the offering of the play there participated Morris Moskovitsh, Kalmen Juvelier, Jacob Katzman, Adolph Liansky, Regina Prager, Dina Feinman, Sonia Nadolska and Mary Wilensky.

On 23 January 1903 in the People's Theatre, under the stage direction of Boris Thomashefsky, there was staged M.'s "Resurrection, or, Between Heaven and Earth" (music by Sigmund Mogulesco), with the participation of Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, Joseph Kessler, Boaz Young, Sam Kasten, Malvina Lobel and Bina Abramowitz. Later the same play was staged in America under the name "Der kales kholem [The Bride's Dream]," and under this name was brought to Europe, where it was played without the knowledge of the author with great success. The subject of the play then was adapted through Julius Adler and was staged under the name, "Itsikl vil khasene hobn [Itskil Wants to Get Married]" with Pepi Litman in the title role. The play had an exceptional success, and in 1925 it was published in Warsaw, anonymously, under the title, "Itsikl vil khasene hobn (or Der kale's kholem), an operetta in five acts, Sh. Goldfarb Publishing House, Warsaw, 1925."

On 11 April 1919 Der kales kholem (The Bride's Dream)" was staged at the People's Theatre through Samuel Rosenstein, under the name, "Di nakht fun libe (The Night of Love)," with music by Herman Wohl.

In 1907 in the Lyric Theatre there was staged M.'s "Siyum haTorah (Completion of the Torah?), a lebensbild in three acts," with the participation of Samuel Fisher, Abe Hart, David Popper, Mike Wilensky and Rose Greenfield.

In 1908 at the Second Avenue Roof Garden there was staged M.'s "Der yidisher kavod [Yiddish Respect?], a drama in three acts" with Louis Kremer, Sam Lowenfeld, Leopold and Sara Kaner, Harry Miller and Rose Greenfield.

In 190 Isidore Hollander staged M.'s dramatic fantasy in one act, "Der tsar un di gayster," and Adolph and Adela Liansky in the same year stated M.'s comedy in one act, "Der tsar hre." Since then M. wrote no more plays and gave up being an author.

For several years M. was the chairman of the Yiddish Dramatic League.

M.E. and Sh.E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, pp. 270, 276 and 281.

  • A. Gonikman -- Dray naye piesn, "Theater zhurnal," N.Y., 15 February 1916.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1375.

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