Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Der Tunkeler
(Yosef Tunkel)


Born in 1881 in Bobruisk, White Russia. His father was a religious teacher. He received a Jewish education, and T. had in his youth manifested a talent in painting, and at the age of sixteen enrolled in the Vilna Drawing School. After completing the school in 1899, he went away to Odessa, where he began to write Yiddish. In 1901 he debuted with a series of songs in "Der yud", and since then has published songs, feuilletons and humoresques in the Yiddish periodical press.

In 1906, he went away to America, and here in 1908 founded the illustrated joke page "Der kibetzer (The Kibbutzer)", and then "Der groyser kunds", where he published caricature drawings and humorous reviews across the Yiddish theatre.

Being in America, T. published in "Der arbeter", New York, (12 January--16 February 1907), his "judaicized" play "Der farloyrener zon (The Lost Son)", under the name "Shvere tseyten, a scene of life in two acts by Joseph Tunkel and N. Cherniak.

In 1910 he returned to Poland and began to contribute to the Warsaw Yiddish press, and since 1911, he has been a steady contributor to "Der moment", where he writes under the pseudonym "Khuskh" and "Der tunkeler". In 1931 he visited Western Europe and Eretz Yisrael, and in 1932 America.

S. dedicated many of his feuilletons to the Yiddish theatre and to the Yiddish actor. Many of his parodies and humoresques

were often read by "amateurs" and professional performers during literary-dramatic evenings.

T. wrote the following one-acters:

  • "Der khasen" (a shpat in one act);

  • "Der humorist" (a shpat in one act);

  • "Neystike geshprekhn" (a grotesque);

  • "Der tseytung-farkoyfer" (sharzh);

  • "A mitl kreygn ale krenk" (sketch);

  • "Meyn veyb makht krank a doktor" (dialogue);

  • "Veyber kenen shveygn" (a scene in one act);

  • "Briliantn" (a shpat in one act);

  • "Di bank in krashinskis gortn" (a shpasike sketch);

  • ""Zi kon nisht reydn" (monologue);

  • "Eretz-yisrael erd, oder, di neye mskhrim" (a scene);

  • "Tsurus fun yidishkeyt" ( a scene);

  • "A shtikl radio nokh hbdlh" (a scene);

  • "Di 'freeyerlekhe' zitsung oyfn tsuzamenfor fun di shegers" (a grotesque);

  • "Der khinezisher bogdikhan tsip-tse-drip, or, dos pintele yid, a folkshtik in four acts and seven scenes with singing, scene and mershe" (parody).

All of the dramatic scenes were previously published in "Moment", several of them were then put out in separate editions, and in T.'s work, later all together in T.'s book, "Dos freylekhe teater" (publisher "Bikher", Warsaw, 1931).

T. also wrote "Der purim-ber, a children's play in three acts". He built on the fable of "Royt hitele", illustrated by Z. Nkhmkin (publisher "Blimelekh", Odessa, 1919, 22 pp., -- second edition under the title "A teater-shtik in three acts", publisher Levin-Epstein, Warsaw 1919, 28 pp.), and "Tseynveytog", a shpat in one act" (in his book "Mitn kop arop"). In the same book there also was reprinted parodies of A. Veyters, Yitzhak Katsenelson and Peretz Hirshbein's plays, whih were already previously printed in T.'s other book.

Almost all of T.'s one-acters were performed.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 1163-70.

  • Kh. Sh. Kazhdan -- Lern-un kinder-bikher, "Bikher-velt", Kiev, 3-4, 1919.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 865.

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