Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Mark Schweid


Born on 15 May 1891 in Warsaw, Poland, into a family of Ger Chasids. He learned in a cheder and in the "R' Itshe's Yeshiva." He received a secular education through a private teacher. From his youth he manifested a strong inclination for acting. He performed in the dramatic section of "Hazamir" and participated (under the direction of David Herman and I.L. Peretz) in small roles, then as "Brchih" in Peretz's "S'Brent." His first big role was "Daniel" in Sholem Aleichem's "Mentshn." S. toured for several weeks with "amateurs" across the Polish province. On the advice of Peretz, he joined the Warsaw Polish Dramatic School (which he graduated from with excellence, in 1911), ferie-time he traveled around with Kaminski's troupe and also acted in Polish in the "Teater Mali." On 28 July 1910 in the "Teater Aleksandria" with members of Kompaneyets' troupe and several "amateurs," he put on Peretz's "In polish oyf der keyt," and one act of his translation of Kiselevsky's play, "Karikaturn (Charicatures?)."

S 's literary activity began with songs in ramatic studies, "Di gasn-meshugene (The Street Lunatic?)" in "Roman-tsaytung (Novel Newspaper)" (1907), "Blumen (Flowers?)" in "Theatre World" (1908), and then he participated in various Yiddish periodicals issued in Warsaw, then under the pseudonym "A. Koma," with translations of the Polish poetry in "European Literature" (under the direction of Abraham Reyzen.)


From 1908 to 1911 S. was a reporter for the newspaper, "Haynt," "Unzer lebn," "Naye velt," and since the founding of the newspaper, "Der moment," staged there with the participation "of the Polish press," and also composed the two adapted novels, "Der yudisher oysleyzer in england," according to Krashevsky a.a. kvaln.

In 1911 S. went to Vienna to study theatre, but instead he guest-starred in the local Yiddish theatre (Zeigler, director), where he performed as "Abrush" in Hirschbein's "The Carcass," and as "Lemekh," in Gordin's "The Wild Man."

At the end of 1911 he arrived in America, where S. performed as an actor in the Yiddish theatre, and in 1912 his translation was staged of Gorky's play, "Oyfn opgrunt (Da nie)" [his new translation of the same play was staged by Maurice Schwartz in the "Yiddish Art Theatre" on 25 December 1919.]

On 27 February 1914 there was staged in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre by Kessler S.'s translation of Artsibashev's play, "Eyferzukht (Jealousy)," which in the same year was published in New York.

In the 1916-17 season in the Second Avenue Theatre, there was staged by Morris Moskowitz S.'s translation of Brie's "Musye pures dray tekhter," and in the Second Avenue theatre there was also staged by Kessler S.'s translation of Hermann Sudermann's "Di heym (The Home?)."

On 15 February 1918 in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre, there was staged by Kessler S.'s translation of Henri Nathansen's play, "Hinter moyern," under the name, "Der yidisher gloybn" [the play in Yiddish here in several translations, and in 1922 was published in the translation of Zalmen Zylbercweig.)

On 28 March 1918 in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre, there was staged by Kessler S.'s play, "Dem tatens zindele," a folks shtik in three acts and six scenes, freely after Larandh, music by Joseph Brody."

In 1918 there was also staged S.'s translation of Henri Nathansen's drama, "Daniel Hertz."

On 12 May 1919 in the People's Theatre, there was staged S.'s translation of "Trilby," according to the novel by George du Maurier. The translation still in 1918 was staged by Samuel Goldinburg in Philadelphia.

On 15 January 1921 in the Yiddish Art Theatre there was staged by Maurice Schwartz S.'s translation of Gorky's play, "Meshtshane (Middle-Class People)," which in July 1940 played in Buenos Aires by Izidore Casher during his guest-appearance, under the name, "Parents and Children."

On 16 December 1921 in Gabel's 106th Street Theatre [Mount Morris], there was staged "The Golem, after a legendary opera with a prologue in three acts and four tablets by Albert Kevety, translated by Mark Schweid, adapted for the Yiddish stage and staged by Max Gabel." Samuel Goldinburg S.'s

On 26 December 1922 in the Yiddish Art Theatre, there was staged by S. his translation of Gabriela Zapolska's play, "Dray un der man" [Mentshzizna], with Berta Gersten, Anna Appel, Lucy and Misha German.

On 26 December 1923 S. staged in the Yiddish Art Theatre his adaptation of Zhankina Benoventa's "Dolls."

In 1924 Solotorefsky's second volume "Geklibene shriftn" published his three-act drama, "The Storm of the Soul [?]" in S.'s translation.

On 17 September 1925 in the Yiddish Art Theatre, under the direction of Maurice Schwartz, there was staged S.'s translation of "King Saul, a biblical drama from Paul Heyse, sets by Van Rosen."

In the Farband (1926-27) S. published his play, "Geshenkte yorn," which in the English translation by Shlomo Grossman was published in the "Jewish Tribune" (N.Y., 6 March-3 July 1925) [The play was built from a folk story, which also was used by S. Frug for "Der shemash's tokhter," and for David Frishman for "The Gift".]

On 26 December 1928 in the National Theatre, there was staged S.'s translation of Leonid Andreyev's play, "Di libe in gihnum."

On 31 January 1929 in the Yiddish Art Theatre, there was staged under the direction of Boris Glagolin, S.'s translation of William Shakespeare's "Othello," music by Verdi, sets, loyt dobry-- Alex Chertov.

In 1929 in "Unzer bukh" there was published S.'s one-acter, "Az es gayt, gayt es fun ale zaytn" [built from a Yiddish folk story.]

In April 1930 in "Oyfkum" there was published S.'s one-acter, "Kuk in der zun," which in 1950 was translated by him in "Der kortnshpiler," a play in one act.

On 17 May 1938 in the Neighborhood Playhouse, there was staged under s's stage direction, his "Mazl darf men hobn, a tragedy in three acts" (built from the "Dertseylung funm her sonkin" by Semion Yuskevich.)

In 1938 in new York, in the edition "Eynakters far der bine un shtudium," there was published in English, "A Miserable Day or Honesty is the Best Soviet Policy, a comedy in one act by Mark Schweid" (from the Russian, by N. Zoshenko," which was staged by the English Department of the Arbeter Ring.

In 1948 S. published in "Sholem aleichem panorama" his English translation of Sholem Aleichem's play, "Eulm hba" and "Hard to be a Jew."

On 28 Mary 190, for the fifty-year anniversary of the "Arbeter Ring," S. staged in New York's Madison Square Garden, his "Dos lid fun oyfgang," a dramatic pageant, music by Lazar Weiner.

In 1950 in the "Eva Le Gallienne Theatre," there was given S.'s "Zunenuntergang," a play in one act.

On 28 October 1950 under the direction of Menachem Rubin, there was staged S.'s "A shtetl vakht oyf," a play in two acts and three scenes, music by Sholom Secunda, which was staged throughout the tour of the Farband troupe.

In the Astor Hotel there was also staged under the direction of Leonidov S.'s pageant, "Undzer khlk in amerike," music by Joseph Rumshinsky, and in Madison Square Garden there was staged S.' pageant "Am ashkhkhd jerushalayim," music by Isaac Van Groll.

In 1960 S. adapted, in one act, in Yiddish and in English, David Pinski's, "The Treasure," which was given by the Farband troupe on its tour across the United States and Canada.

Since 1921 S. has been a member of the Yiddish Art Theatre, where he had created an entire series of roles in artistic repertoire for the theatre, such as "R' Elie" in Leivick's "Rags," "Sultan" in Zulawski's "Sabtai Zvi," "King David" in Heyse's "King Saul," "The Baron" in Gorky's "Oyfn opgrunt," "The Blind Man" in Leivick's "Beggars," "The Chief Rabbi" in Ansky's "Dybbuk," "Yudke" in Pinski's "The Treasure," "The Son" in Andreyev's "The Seven Who Were Hanged," and with David Kessler-- as "Sierozha" in Artsibashev's "Jealousy."

In 1926 S. went over to the English stage for a period of time and participated in the new Boston art theatre, "The Repertory Theatre."

During the 1930-31 season S. went over to the Bronx Art Theatre, and it opened in October 1930 under his direction, with his dramatization of Sholem Asch's "Electric Chair" ["Toit-shtrof"], a drama in ... acts and five scenes. In November-- Chone Gottesfeld's comedy, "God's Thieves," then there he staged a number of Sholem Aleichem's one-acters, under the name, "A Night in Yekhupetz."

On 21 December 1937 S. staged with New York's "ARTEF," Stefan Zweig's "Der braver soldat shveyk."

In 1929 S. participated in the sound film, "The Eternal Prayer" (regisseur-- Sidney Goldin), and in 1923 in the sound film, "Uncle Moses," (regisseur-- Maurice Schwartz.)

S. also composed about fifty programs, which were given over to the WEVD radio station, under the name, "Jews in the History of America."

For a year S. was Vice-President and later President of the Yiddish [Hebrew] Actors' Union in America.

S. also translated "The Fruits of Enlightenment" by Tolstoy, wrote a one-acter, "Es gesheen nokh nisim," a tragi-comedy in three acts, "Der ger," "Di goldene shlang" (built from Peretz's "Two Brothers"), and a play, "Louis Brandeis," from the recent history in two acts and six scenes, which was never staged.

Since 1912 S. began to collaborate in various Yiddish periodical editions in America, where he published original and translated songs, one-acters, and wrote about the theatre. He also published several collection books of his songs and two books about Peretz, such as: "Burshtinene shislen" (publisher "Verbe," N.Y., 1921, 79 pp.), "Mit peretz'n" (publisher "Verbe," NY, 1923, 47pp.), "Tsu got un tsu leyt" (publisher "Verbe," N.Y., 19226, 64 pp.), "Kh'vel makhn tey" (Boston, 1927, 54 pp.), "Dos folk funm sfr" (Philadelphia, 1930), "Un ir der prost" (New York, 1935), "Ale lider un poemes" (New York, 1951), and "Treyst mayn folk" (New York, 1955, publisher "Peretz".)

S. also translated Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel, "Humiliated and Insulted," a novel in four parts, in two scenes (published through Max Jankowitz, New York), Pshibishevsky's "Fun'm opgrunt" (De profundus, published by Max Janowitz, New York.) He also published in the "Forward" a novel of theatre life, "Di farmaskirte velt," and in "Pinkus (New York, N' 3, pp. 157-59) there was published a list of seventy-eight actors' words [theatrical jargon.]

In 1949 S. edited the journal "30-Year Anniversary of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance."

Since 1946 S. has worked as a permanent contributor in the "Forward," where he writes, etc. about art topics.

S.'s published plays in Yiddish:

[1] Mark Schweid
     Di gasn-meshugene (The Street Lunatic?)
     (a dramatic etude in 4 short monologues)
     ["Roman-Tsaytung," Warsaw, 19 Dec. 1907]

[2] Mark Schweid
     Blumen (Flowers)
     (a scenic etude)
     ["Theatre World," Warsaw, 15 October 1908]

[3] M. Artsibashev
     Ehferzukht (Jealousy)
     a drama in five acts,
     translated by the Russian by Mark Schweid
     M. Gurewitz Publishers, New York, 1914 [112 pp.]

[4] Dr. Hillel Zolotarov
     Der shturem fun der neshome (The Storm of the Soul?)
     (a drama in three acts with an epilogue)
     translated from the English: Mark Schweid
     [published in two volumes "Geklibene shriftn,"
     New York, 1924, pp 139-158]

[5] Geshenkte yoren
     a shpil in khoylem un vor
     in eight scenes from Mark Schweid
     ["Der farband," New York, Nov. 1926-Mar. 1927]

[6] Mark Schweid
     Az es gayt gayt es fun ale zeytn
     a comedy in one act
     ["Unzer bukh," New York, March-April 1929, pp. 105-121]

[7] Mark Schweid
     Kuk in der sun
     eyn akt fun gekhlomter virklakhkeyt
     ["Oyfkum," New York, April 1930, pp. 5-10]

[8] Mark Schweid
     a dramatic poem in three scenes
     ["Di tsukunft," New York, April 1937, pp. 205-11]

In English:

[1] A Miserable Day or Honesty is the Best Soviet Policy,
     A Comedy in One Act by Mark Schweid
     (from the Russian of N. Zoshenko)

[2] Heaven, a Farce in One Act by Sholom Aleichem,
     Translated by Mark Schweid
     ["Sholom Aleichem Panorama," London, Ont.,
     1948, pp. 226-230]

[3] It's Hard to be a Jew, a Comedy in Three Acts
     and a Prologue by Sholom Aleichem,
     Translated by Mark Schweid
     pp. 235-266]

[4] Mark Schweid. Borrowed Years; A Play in Eight
     Scenes, Translated by Samuel S. Grossman
     ["Jewish Tribune," New York, March 6, April 3, July 3, 1925]

M. E. and Sh. E.

  • Z. Reyzen-- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. IV, pp. 533-536.

  • B. Gorin-- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, p. 260.

  • Z.B.-- In theater, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 16 March 1918.

  • Y. Entin-- Di pesakh-piese in kesler's theater, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 1 April 1918.

  • Dr. I. Wortsman-- A folks-shtik in david keslers theater, "tog," N.Y., 6 April 1918.

  • B. Gorin-- "Mestshane" in irving plays theater," "Morning Journal," N.Y., 19 January 1921.

  • B. Gorin-- Der goylem, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 26 Dec. 1921.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- "Der goylem," "Forward," N.Y., 13 January 1922.

  • Aksel-- Der "goylem," "Fraye arbeter shtime," 10 February 1922.

  • [--]-- A klage gegen shvartz'n un a klage gegen shvartz'es trupe, "Forward," N.Y., 2 July 1926.

  • Maurice Schwartz-- Moris shvartz entfert, dort, 9 July 1926.

  • Mark Schweid-- Mark shveid entfert moris shvartz'n, 16 July 1926.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "Teater," New York, 1927, pp. 159-65.

  • N. Buchwald-- "Otelo" in yidishn kunst teater, "Frayhayt," N.Y., 7 February 1929.

  • Ab. Cahan-- "Otelo" in shvartz's kunst teater, "Forward," N.Y., 8 February 1929.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "Otelo" in kunst teater, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 8 February 1929.

  • A. Glantz-- Di shekspir oyffirung in kunst teater, "Tog," N.Y., 8 February 1929.

  • William Edlin-- Tsvay opereten un a drame, "Tog," N.Y., 10 October 1930.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "Elektrik ther," "Morning Journal," N.Y., 10 October 1930.

  • D. Kaplan-- Sholem ash's "elektrik tsher" in bronks art teater, "Forward," N.Y., 11 October 1930.

  • M. Melamed-- Mark shveyd's kunst teater, "Di yidishe velt," Philadelphia, 17 October 1930.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "Got's ganevim," rezhi mark shveyd, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 7 November 1930.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- Oyf der teater evenyu, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 5 Dec. 1930.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- Arum teater, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 26 Dec. 1930.

  • Avraham Reyzen-- Di "europeisher literatur" un ire mitarbeter, "Vokhnshrift," Warsaw, N' 38, 1932.

  • M. Ring-- Der soldat shveyk, a geerlekher gast in artef, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 17 Dec. 1937.

  • N. Buchwald-- "Der braver soldat shveyk" in artef teater, dort, 24 Dec. 1937.

  • Edward D. Coleman-- "The Jew in English Drama," New York, 1943, p. 177.

  • L. Siegel-- Mark shveyd shaft a piese fun amerikaner yidishn lebn, "Der yidisher zhurnal," Toronto, 24 Oct. 1950.

  • Kh. Gutman-- Ershte piese fun farband trupe, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 8 Nov. 1950.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3667.

Copyright Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.