Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Jonas Turkow


Born on 15 September 1898 in Warsaw, Poland, to well-to-do parents. The first education he received was at home, then he learned in Warsaw's real gymnasium, in Krinski's trade school, in Dr. Young's oyber-real school in Hungarian Brod (mern), and stage art in the dramatic courses of Professor Rosenbaum. Due to his family situation, he came back in 1915 to Warsaw and worked for a year in a firm of chemical workers, then in a bank.

Since 1915 he has participated in "amateur" productions, and in 1916, together with his brother Zygmunt and Nitsberg, organized and acted in "Dos artistishe vinkele", then for a short time with David Herman in the Elizeum , and he participated in Warsaw's German theatre and under the name of Ervin Tirkoy in German's comedy theatre of the Hernfeld brothers.

From 1917-20, he acted in Esther Rukhl Kaminska's troupe, where he took over in 1918 the administrative leadership and organized a large tour across the German occupied land in the Ukraine and Russia. In 1920-1 he continued on in Vilna, and he participated in the local dramatic theatre and organized (1921) in Warsaw "The Baveglekhe Dramatic Theatre", with whom he went on a tour across Poland and Galicia, and returned again to Vilna.

Later he founded an itinerant troupe "Di yunge bine", in which he was the regisseur and premier. In 1923-5 he acted with Zygmunt Turkow.


In 1926 he was engaged as the director of the Krakow social Yiddish theatre, where he acted during 1926-7 in a literary repertoire ("Licht un shotn" by Benjamin Ressler, "Volpone" by Ben Johnson, "Fun baginen biz khtsus" by George Keyzer, et al), and he received the first static subsidy for Yiddish theatre in Poland.

1928-9 -- directed with a small troupe across Poland and Galicia. 1929 -- founded and directed with "V"nit" (Varshaver nayer yidisher teater), and soon he left once again to wander about with his own troupe across the province.

Already since 1923 he participated in the main role in the Yiddish motion picture ("Tkies khaf" in "L'u'nik". Also he participated in the Polish historical film "Huragan"). T. had, in 1928, directed and acted in the motion picture "In the Polish Woods", according to Opatoshu's novel.

1930 -- there was staged in Lublin's city theatre Mark Arnstein's Polish translation of Jacob Gordin's "Mirele Efros", then he again went on a long tour across Poland, and in April 1931 he staged in Radom his translation of "10 Years and 1 Second", a play in three acts by Marcellus Schiffer.

1932 -- he acted in Warsaw's Literary Union (chamber stage), then he guest-starred in Vilna's "Unzer teater", and for the 1932-33 season took over the Vilna Yiddish theatre.

1932-33 -- he directed with the Vilna Yiddish dramatic school for the Yiddish Theatre Society.

T. wrote several comedies and one-acters, and he translated many plays of which the following were staged: "Shuldik" by Richard Pos, "Harbst-fidlen" by Surgotshev, "Di eybike tragedye" and "Di kinder fun zind" by Yevdkokimov, "Kop tsi shlog" by Vermeil, "Dos gliklekhe por folk" by Peter Nonsen, "Morpheum" by L. (Ludwig) Hertzer, "Prokurer halers" by P. Lindoy, and "Yugent" by Max Halbe. T had staged in the troupes the greater portion of his translations.

T. published many articles about theatre and film generally, and about Yiddish especially. He also published the brochure "Vegveyzer far dramatishe kreyzn", Warsaw 1924 [24 pp., 16], and was a member of the editorial collegium in the organ of the Yiddish Artists Union in Poland "Yiddish Stage".

Sh. E.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 1171-2.

  • M. K. [Kanfer] -- Wystepy goscine Djany Blumenfeld i Jonas Turkowa, "Dowy Dziennik", Krakow, 3/9 1926.

  • Sholom Fraynt -- Dos ershte yidishe gezelshaftlekhe teater in poyln "yidish teater", Warsaw, 2, 1927, pp. 214-30.

  • Aaron Zeitlin -- Yidishe literatur oyfn zilber fun ekran, "unzer ekspres", 7 December 1928.

  • Mark Turkow -- "Briv fun ester-rukhl kaminska", pp. 76-7.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Teater un drame", Vol. II, p. 29.

  • Jacob Mestel -- Teater-bikher, "Morgn-frayhayt", N. Y., 1 July, 1929.

  • Nakhum Meyzel -- Libe un oyfmerkzamkeyt, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 51, 1929.

  • A. Katsizne -- A guter mitn, "LIterarishe bleter", Warsaw, 51, 1929.

  • Y. Nisenboym -- "Leydenshaft", piese in 3 accts by M. Sarbul, gastshpil fun diana blumenfeld un yonas turkov, "Lubliner taglat", 17 May 1929.

  • Sh. Khazan -- "Leydnshaft", piese in 3 acts, oysgefirst durkh y. turkov, d. blumenfeld un ansambl "vilner prese", Lutsk, 21, 1929.

  • Elkhanan Zeitlin -- Der tants arum gold in varshever nayem yidishn teater, "unzer ekspres", Warsaw, 7 February 1930.

  • T. -- "Di sibh" fun l. frank, oyfgefirst durkh yonas turkov un zeyn ansembl "shedletser vokhnblat", I, 1930.

  • M. Dluzhnovski -- "Di sibh", drama in 4 aktn fun leonard frank, oyfgefirt durkh yonas turkov un ansembl, "tomashever vokhnblat", 17, 1930.

  • Khanan [Pesakh Kaplan] -- Moderne problemen in yidishn teater, "Naye lebn", Bialystok, 6, June 1930.

  • Y. N. [Nisenboym] -- "Toyt-shtraf", drama in 4 akts fun leonard frank, oyfgefirst in yidishn teater durkh yonas turkov, "Lubbliner tognlat", 1 September 1930.

  • Y. N. -- "Hinkeman", oyfgefirst durkh yonas turkov, "Lubliner togblat", 17 September 1930.

  • Khanan -- Yonas turkovs gast-shpil, "Unzer lebn", Bialystok, 12 January 1932.

  • N. M. [Meyzel] -- Yonas turkov un diana blumenfeld in "marfium", "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 10 November 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 871.

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