Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Clara Shoengold


It is not known where she was born, as she was ordered from her home, and as such she came to act in Yiddish theatre.

According to the historian of Yiddish theatre B. Gorin, soon after the beginnings of the Yiddish theatre in Rumania, "in Berlet to the troupe there came a new actress, who was Chaya Sura but Clara with whom [Aba] Shoengold had married, and for a long time they both occupied a place at the top of the Yiddish stage".

We find that she also acted circa 1886 in the itinerant troupe across Germany under the production of the prompter Berger, due to the forbiddance to act in Yiddish theatre in Russia. After a scandal in Hamburg and after motoring to Berlin where the troupe disbanded, Sh. returned with her husband and the Zuckermans to Warsaw, Poland, but as such there there was no acting in Yiddish theatre, so they performed in "concerts", by performing an act from a play and at times an entire play.

At the end of 1886 she found together with her husband [an opportunity] to act in Yiddish theatre in London, England, in the Princess Club, but due to the fire there in 1887, she traveled to New York, where she joined and acted in the Oriental Theatre.

She was then a "star", all throughout the province, and Bessie Thomashefsky, who then was a beginner and had represented her as "Chaim" in the play "Chaim in America", pictured her in a not-too-wonderful light:


"Before the performance I was restrained because that role was first performed by Chaya Sura Shoengold, and I was afraid going after her in the play, that she was ill and I mustn't make my debut in the role that she had performed ... I ascended to the stage, there in a box [loge] sat Madame Shoengold alone. With her sickness she came to see how I would perform in her role. The artistic jealousy had taken her out of bed as she shlepped down, bringing herself into theatre so that she could see if I would fail."

More about the further stage career of Sh. is unknown, as well as the date, where she passed away and where she found her eternal rest.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. I, pp. 192, 198, 238, 241; Vol. 2, pp. 49-52.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Meyn lebens-geshikhte (My Life Story)", New York, 1916, pp. 182-83.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 2951.

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