Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Zygmunt Turkow


Born on 6 November 1896 in Warsaw, Poland, to well-do, parents of means. He learned in a cheder, then in the Russian school of Muravlov, and later he completed six classes of Krinski's trade school. As a child he excelled in painting and carving., but his main interest manifested in the theatre.

Already as a ten to twelve year old, he participated  in the main roles of Hebrew, Polish and Russian school productions, and soon he became aroused by the possibility of a theatre career. Attending often the Polish theatre, T. then used to, together with his brother Jonas, arrange in the cellars of homes, in attics, in the ...of their houses, and mostly each Shabbat with his uncle, "children productions", in which they performed Polish scenes from "Shylock", "Macbeth" and "Othello".

T. managed to study (due to his yidishkeyt) to get into the Russian-Polish dramatic state school with the Warsaw governmental theatres. After a short time he went over to the private dramatic school with the Polish music society and then in Hrinievetska's dramatic school, where he learned with the Polish actors Bridzhinski and Zelverovitsh.

After completing the dramatic school in 1915, T. for a short time acted in Polish in Arnold Shifman's "Teater folski", then in other Polish theatres under the direction of Konstantin Matarkevitsh. However, he also read Yiddish literature, wrote and translated plays in Yiddish (including Shakespeare's "Macbeth"), adapted several director conceptions, participating in Yiddish amateur

productions, in Yiddish literary evenings, in Zemakh's Hebrew amateur group "Habima", and was one of the man organizers of "Dos artistishe vinkele" for "Hazamir", with whom he also toured, performing in 1916 across several cities of Poland.

Here T. became engaged to Avraham Yitzhak Kaminski, performing in the Kaminski Theatre as "Frants Mor" in Schiller's "The Robbers", and he had remained since then in the troupe. from 1917-8 -- T. went with Esther Rukhl and Ida Kaminska on their first large tour across Poland (that then was occupied by Germany and Austria), and had in June 1918 married Ida Kaminska and participated in a tour of E. R. and Ida Kaminska across Volin, Ukraine, Russia and White Russia, where he directed "200,000", a comedy in four acts by S. Yuskevitch, translated by Z. T. and Ida Kaminska. In 1919 -- he acted for a short time in Russian in Kharkov, under the direction of Boris Glagolin, and then again he returned to the Yiddish stage.

In 1920 -- he arrived in Warsaw, acting in the provinces, and in 1921 he took over the leadership of the "Central" Theatre, in which he staged on 23 July 1921 Alter Eyzenshlos' drama "Ksa hrbnus", on 16 August 1921 Moliere's "The Miser", on 17 March 1922 Moliere's "Di libe als doktor" (translation of Z. T.), on 17 April 1922 (together with Sh. Landau) Sholem Asch's "Motke the Thief", May 1923 Andreyev's "The Seven Who Were Hanged", then Gogol's "The Inspector General/Revizor", on 25 September 1923 Dr. Sh. Ettinger's "Serkele", on 25 December 1923 "Der priziv, a comedy in three acts by Mendele Mukher Sforim (Sh. Y. Abramovitsh), prologue -- Y. M. Neyman, scenery and direction -- Z. Turkow, decorations and costumes by Moshe Appelbaum". Then "Der zindiker ker tshu" by Julius Berstel (translation H. Tsiekhnovski). In January 1924 -- Y. Zhulavsky's "Shabtai tsvi" (translation of Y. Y. Zinger) and then a new production of his own adaptation of Goldfaden's "The Two Kuni Lemels". Thereof he traveled to Vilna and its environs, and here he acted in "Di froy un der payatz, a play in four acts (five scenes), by P. Louis and P. Fronde (translation of T. and Ida Kaminska, director A. K."). In 1925-26 -- a tour across Poland with kamerale plays. On 19 October 1926 he founded in Warsaw the troupe "Vik"t" (Varshaver yidisher kunst-teater), with whom he directed in the Kaminski's theatre: "Dos tsente gebot" by Goldfaden (new, his own adaptation), Romain Rolland's "Wolves". Yakov Patt "In goldn land In Golden Land)", David Pinski's "The Treasure", Hertzer's "Morfium", Yuskkevitch's "Dem orimans mazel" ("Sonkins glik") [performed in Russia under the name "200,000"], and a dramatization of Dosteyevsky's "Brothers Karamazov". Due to his bad material conditions, T. left Warsaw and wandered around until 1929 wit the troupe across Poland and Rumania, and he went over to the German film in Berlin (director - assistant in Ufa). Soon thereafter, however, he returned to the Yiddish staged and guest-starred in the Polish and Galician provinces, then in Riga (Lettland [Latvia]), and in 1931 in Warsaw, where he directed in Kaminski's theatre the play "Dos hoyz fun farbrekher" by Engelhart and Ditsenshmidt, translated by T. and Ida Kaminska, and his dramatization of Sholem Asch's "Uncle Moses". Then T. went to guest-star in Belgium and France.

At the start of 1932 he returned to Poland, where on 19 January 1932 he was honored in Kaminski's theatre T.'s for his fifteen-years of activity on the Yiddish stage.

In May 1932 T. staged and acted in the Elizeum Theatre Tolstoy's and Stsheglov's play "Rasputin", and in July 1932 he had for a short time guest-starred in the "Vilna Troupe" in Lodz.

T. translated and adapted (alone, or with his wife) many plays, and participated as a co-editor in the periodic organs of the Yiddish Actors Union in Poland, and also directed and acted (1924) in the film "Tkies khaf".

After the death of Esther Rukhl Kaminska, T., together with his wife, founded the theatre museum under the name of E. R. Kaminska, at YIVO in Vilna, for which he had geshtonken the archive of the deceased.

M. E.

Sh. E. from Mark Turkow.

  • SZE -- Teater-notitsn, "unzer folkstseytung", Warsaw, 28 December 1923.

  • Eyner [A. Eynhorn] -- Notitsen, "Nayer heynt", Warsaw, 28 December 1923.

  • B. Karlinius -- Teater-feuilleton, "Der moment", Warsaw, 4 January 1924.

  • T. -- Yidishe artistn vegn zikh, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 90, 1926.

  • -- Zygmunt turkov gegn zeyne plener, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 125, 1926.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Teater un drame", I, pp. 8-12, 22-34; II, pp. 26-29, 30-34, 154-56.

  • Mark Turkow -- "Briv fun ester-rukhl kaminski", pp. 39-75, 147-150, 154-6.

  • Alter Katsizne -- Teater,  "Literarishe bleter", I, 1927.

  • N. M. [Mayzel] -- Gleykhglitikeyt oder boykot? "Literarishe bleter", 4, 1927.

  • [--] -- Vik"t trupe, "Literarishe bleter", 14, 1927.

  • M. W. -- Khronik fun yidishn teater, "Yidish teater", 1927, pp. 234-8.

  • -- Bey ida kaminska un zygmunt turkov, "Literarishe bleter",, Warsaw, 31, 1928.

  • Michail Yo -- "Vikt", tsu di gastroln fun zygmund turkov un ida kaminski, "Unzer tsayt", Kishinev, 29 February 1928.

  • P. -- Di gastroln fun "vikt", "Unzer tsayt", Kishinev, 6 March 1928.

  • Avraham M. -- Bey dem "vikt", "Arb. tsayt", Czernowitz, 318, 1928.

  • B. Sh [Bela Sprio] -- Gastrolen fun ida kaminska un zygmunt turkov, "Lubliner shtime", 39, 1928.

  • Y. Nisenboym -- "Tavh" fun o'neill, rezhistirt durkh zygmunt turkov, "Lubliner tagenblat", 3 October 1928.

  • Dr. Moshe Lustig -- Ida kaminska un zygmunt turkov un z. biela's "ven der shtn lakht", "Der morgn", Lemberg, 10 December 1928.

  • Dr. Moshe Lustig -- Der gedank fun l. andreyev (oyfgefirt fun z. turkov un ida kaminska), "Der morgn", Lemberg, 18 December 1928.

  • Mkhr Halevy -- Fun teater, "Pinsker shtime", 25, 1929.

  • K. [Kitay] -- Zygmunt turkov, "Frimorgn", 2 November 1930.

  • M. K. -- Zygmunt turkov in "kargn", "Frimorgn", Riga, 9 November 1930.

  • K. -- "Tuviya der milkiger" in yid. teater, "Frimorgn", Riga, 25 November 1930.

  • Kit -- Zygmunt turkov in der piese "morfium", "Frimorgn", Riga, 4 December 1930.

  • N. M. -- Ershter oyftrit fun zygmunt turkov, "Literarishe bleter", 16, 1931.

  • M. K. -- Zygmunt turkov vegn idishn teater, "Frimorgn", Riga, 1? Novembber 1930.

  • Jacob Botoshansky -- Nokh vegn idishn teater in varshe, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 26 June 1931.

  • D. B. Malkin -- Ida kaminska un zygmunt turkov in varshe, "Vokhnshrift", Warsaw, 3, 1931.

  • Jacob Pat -- Tsi zol der "blinder payatz" blozn shufr ?... "Vokhnshrift", Warsaw, 7, 1931.

  • D. B. Malkin -- Onkl mozes, "Vokhnshrift", Warsaw, 7, 1931.

  • Nachman Mayzel -- Fuftsn yor in dinst beym yidishn ernstn teater, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 3, 1932.

  • Yitzhak Grudberg -- Zygmunt turkov, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 3, 1932.

  • N. M. -- Zygmunt turkov in "rasputin", "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 22, 1932.

  • D. B. Malin -- "Rasputin", "Vokhnshrift", Warsaw, 22, 1932.

  • Jacob Botoshansky -- Tsvishn forhang un leyvnt, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 6 January 1933.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 868.

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