Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Sonia (Sophie) Strelska


Born circa 1874 in Novograd Volynskij (Zvihl?), Volin. Father -- a cantor. She received a traditional education and learned with melamdim and with a private teacher.

At the age of nineteen, she debuted as a chorister in a local Russian troupe, and for a certain time was a chorister in Russian and Ukrainian troupes. Later she joined as a prima donna in the Yiddish troupe of Sharvner, then went to Sabsey, and in 1907-8 over to the troupe of Mishe Genfer, where she also participated in dramatic repertoire.

Here S. married the theatre director Mishe Genfer, and after his death (1913), she took over, together with her brother-in-laws, Solomon and Siome Genfer, the management of the troupe, which existed until the February Revolution in 1917.

Later, S. entered into the first cooperative troupe in Yekaterinoslav, founded by the association "Yiddish Artist". 1918-19 -- S. had, together with Miriam Trilling and Mishe Appelbaum, untied into an itinerant collective and toured across White Russia and the Ukraine until they became stirred up in Cherkas by Grigoryev's bands. 1919 -- S. arrived in Poltava in the private troupe under the direction of Briskin and Braslavsky. 1919-20 -- joined in "Kunst vinkl", with the Poltava section of the "Kultur lige (Culture League)". 1920 -- due to her family situation, she traveled to Odessa, where she joined in their Jewish State Theatre, under the auspices of Y. Bertanov, and after the troupe disbanded, she toured for a short time with a collective under the direction of Adolf Segal.


1922-6 -- S. acted in the "Kunst vinkl" theatre in Kiev, later in various itinerant collectives with Rudolf Zaslavski, Gutherts and Clara Fridman. 1930-31 -- acted in the "Royter fakl" troupe (direction: Isak Rakitin).

1931 -- S. withdrew from the stage and settled with a friend in Moscow, receiving a year's pension from the Soviet state.

On 15 January 1923 in Kiev's ""Kunst vinkl", S.'s thirty-year stage anniversary was celebrated, during which there was performed Emil Zola's "Theresa Raquin", with her in the role of "the mother".

Mark Leyptsiker writes: "For her a long year's work on the scene, S. had almost acted over the entire Yiddish repertoire, also many translations, either from the old dramaturgy, or from the new, the majority from the Soviet proletariat writers. Not looking thereof, that S. had for so many years worked in old repertoire and acting in so many roles, she was still very good and had adapted to the new theatre and the great roles that she had performed without a prompter".

Sh. E. from Mark Leyptsiker.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1468.

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