Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yitzhak Perkoff


Born on 15 August (A. S.) 1870 in Bohislav (Boguslav), Kiev Gubernia, Ukraine. Father -- formerly a bookbinder, and during the Russian-Turkish War became a "contractor". P.'s father occasionally used to imitate types from the town at simkhas (joyous occasions), especially a certain sexton "with a long tongue", and a carrier "with odd movements". Until age thirteen, P. learned in a cheder, then completed a Russian school. Due to his desire for design, he became a photographer. At the age of sixteen, he wrote two articles (under the pseudonym "A baslaver yid") for Tsederboym's "Yidishes folksblat", which then had made an impression. 1886 -- went away to Odessa in order to farfulkumen his profession, there joining in with the socialist circles. Later he settled in Akkerman as a photographer and, due to the fear (danger) of arrest, he traveled with his father in 1887 to London. Here he was for a certain time secretary for the "International Workers' Educational Club", and also participated in amateur productions. From time to time he wrote in "Arbeyter freynd".

In 1900 as a photographer he became acquainted with Goldfaden in London, and he developed an intimate friendship with him. In a year's time, Goldfaden was P.'s guest. Their friendship, as well as a part of their correspondence, later served as material for P.'s brochure "Avraham Goldfaden, my memories and his letters (London, 1908)", from which the income from the sale of 1,000 copies went to Goldfaden's widow. Due to the success of the brochure, P. reprinted it in July 1926 in the London daily newspaper "Di post".


Goldfaden's letter to P. was very intimately written. Goldfaden also personified P. in "Photographer Perkov" in his last play "Ben-Ami".

Given over to the idea of a better Yiddish theatre, P. was (in 1912) one of the initiators, directors and (together with Morris Meyer) the literary advisor for the "Yidisher folks-teater" in London.

In the span between 1900-1905, P. wrote reviews about Yiddish theatre (and other literary contributions) in the London Yiddish press, especially about the guest appearances of the "Vilna Troupe" and "Dos yidishe kunst-teater" from New York.

P.'s step-brother, Adolf Abramov, was a Yiddish actor.

P. was a member in London's Publishing Committee of the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre".

M. E.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "History of Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, pp. 946-9.

  • Yitzhak Perkoff -- "Avraham goldfaden, meyne zkhrunus un zeyne brief" (London, 1908)






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 1848.

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