Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Michael Preiss


Born on 29 January 1904 in Oleyov, Eastern Galicia. Father --  gut-bazitser in haltshe Dolina and banker in the same village, a Husiatin Chasid. He learned Polish, Ukrainian and German privately, and Yiddish subjects with tutors. During the outbreak of the first World War (1914), his family fled to Vienna, where P. entered into the Baron Hirsch school, which he completed in 1918, then in a Polish gymnasium and he completed it in 1922 a German real gymnasium.

As a young student, he studied dramatic arts with the regisseur and performer of the "Viener shtadt teater", Julius Haler, who prepared him for the production of "Uriel Acosta" (24 April 1920), which was staged under the direction of Jacob Mestel (with the participation of P. as "Uriel Acosta", and the late actors Mendelson (Yehuda Bleich) as "De Silva", and Ben Zion Segal as "Ben Yukhai"). Now P. entered into the dramatic school of Jacob Mestel with the "Fareyn yidishe folks-bine", where he participated later in various productions and then as a professional in the troupe of "Folksbine", debuting as "Der sufr" in Asch's "God of Vengeance", after acting several years with the troupe across Vienna, the Austrian provinces and Romania, where he participated in 1924 in the productions of the Stramer troupe across Czechoslovakia. 1924-1925 -- he studied the German language with Hans Kirchner and in the "Academye der darshtelender kunst" under the leadership of Rudolf Ber,

participating also in German in the Marholm troupe in Vienna's "Roland stage".

1926-27 -- acted for a season in German and Breslau ("Lare Theatre"), 1927-28 -- in Yiddish with Baratov and Potatska in Vienna's "Reklam Theatre", 1928-29 -- further in German in Bri???, 1929-30 -- in German, classical repertoire with ?? ??rberg and Raul Aslan across the Austrian province and Switzerland, 1930-31 -- in German, classical repertoire...Dusseldorf ("Shtadt Theatre"). 1931-1932 -- ??? in German theatre in Innsbruck, but as a Jew he had to leave the troupe and completed the season in Graz. 33?? acted in Vienna's "Karl Theatre" (German), 1934-35 -- in Kovno's "Folks House" in Yiddish with Baratov, 1935 -- in German in the "Yiddish Culture House" in Vienna, and he performed in recitations in German and Yiddish, 1936-1937 -- in Yiddish, in Vienna's "Yidishe kunstler shplin", where there also was staged in Abish Meyzel's translation Arnold Zweig's "Shmuel's shlikhus". 1938 -- arrested by the Nazis and released by the Vienna "Yidisher kultur-gemeynde", where he became employed as a director of the emigration department. In March 1939 he immigrated with a transport to England, and he performed in the camp of "Kitchener kemp" (in Rutshbara by Sandwich) in "God, Man and Devil", in Yiddish and in Oscar Wilde's "Florentine Tragedy" in English.

In 1940 his family brought him to America, where he soon thereafter acted in Yiddish in Cleveland, then worked as an employee in a drugstore in New York. In January 1945 he went out on tour across America with a small-arts program (in Yiddish and English) for the "Yidish fraternaler folks-orden".

P. was a member in various German, Czechoslovakian and Austrian artists unions, and in the Yiddish Actors Union in Vienna, where he also was a member in the Executive (Committee).

M. and Sh. E.

  • Freie yidishe folksbine, "Preseshtimen", Vienna.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 1878.

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