Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yakov Vaksman


Born on 22 October 1866 in Lublin, Poland. His father was a mashkhil, who took up law, so his son didn't get any special Yiddish education. He finished a four-class kroynisher Yiddish school.

In 1882 he entered into the Yiddish troupe of Shvarts in Lublin, and with a hundred of singers in the chorus, 1884 -- was a chorus singer with Weinstock in Lublin and traveled with this troupe across the environs, performing already in roles from Goldfaden's repertory. In 1885 -- he returned to Lublin and worked for two years as an assistant secretary in an optical business, then with a geshvoyrenem lawyer. In 1890 -- he served in the military in Kronshtat and as an eyngeyer in a Yiddish home and there became acquainted with Yiddish and Russian-Yiddish literature. Later he worked for two years as a chronicler for the Russian newspaper "Lublinskiya gubernskaya vydeomosty", and after participating through the governor in the printing of a notice against a strike, he was arrested as a Jew by the police, V. taking up with a private lawyer(?)

In 1916 -- V. founded a Yiddish troupe in Lublin in the Pantheon Theatre, then in the Rusalka Theatre. In 1918 -- he performed with a Yiddish troupe across the Ukraine.

V. wrote the following dramas: "Di macabe-muter", a tragedy in 4 acts (staged on 5 March 1908 in Warsaw's Muranov Theatre"


by Kompaneyets' troupe), "In yene teg", a tragedy in 3 acts (staged in April 1908) in the same theatre. The production was soon by the government), "Di farshtisene", a lebensbild in 4 acts (staged 13 April 1909 in Warsaw in a theatre on Aleksanderplatz by Fishzon's torupe), "Der provokator", a tragedy in 4 acts (staged 16 June 1913 in Odessa, theatre Bulgarov, by Sabsey's troupe), "Berek yoselevitsh", a tragedy in 4 acts (published in the "Ybnh" publishing house, Warsaw, 1910. Staged on 22 April 1913 in Polish in Lublin's theatre Rusalka by Franz Stefanski's torupe. Soon thereof it was banned by the government). In Yiddish there was staged in 1917 by M. D. Vaksman in Warsaw's Kaminski Theatre), "Dos gasn meydl" ("Der geler bilet"), a tragedy in 3 acts (staged on 6 September 1910 in Lublin in the theatre Rusalka by Lublin's student circle, then it was performed by many professional Yiddish troupes. In Hebrew there was performed Z. Nisn trp"u in the colony Rosh Pinah, Eretz Yisrael, through a local amateur group), "Ukrainer pogrom-krbnus", a tragedy in 4 acts (printed in the publishing house Goldfarb, Warsaw, 1927, staged in April 1924 in Lodz's Skala Theatre by Kompaneyets' troupe, later by the powers banned the performing), "Kiddush hashem" [no relationship to Asch's novel and play], a tragedy in 3 acts (staged on 17 September 1928 in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre by Betty Koenig's troupe), and the plays that weren't staged were: "Di zindike muter", "Di blum fun hong-kong" and "Shvartsbards protses".

V. also wrote the following operettas: "Di sheyne berta" (music by Julius Adler and Y. Shlossberg, staged in 1916 in Lodz's Grand Theatre by the Adler-Serotsky troupe), "Malvinke vil azoy" (music by Y. Shlossberg, staged 16 January 1916 in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre by the author's troupe), "Vos a moyd ken" or "Der libling fun froyen" or "Ikh zukh a shutf" (music by Adler, Shlossberg et al, staged on 7 December 1913 in Warsaw's Elizeum by Kompaneyets' troupe), "Di primadone" or "Ir benefits" (music by Kumok, staged 1 November 1920 in Warsaw's Central Theatre), and the only ones not performed was "Di lusike mary" (music by Ferdinand) and "Gekhapt a khatun" (music by Shlossberg).

V. also dramatized novels, stories and chronicles: "Mendl beilis", according to a stenographic report of the process (staged 21 November 1918 in Uman, in a small theatre under V.'s direction), "Fishke der krumer", according to Mendele Mokher Sefarim (staged June 1924 in Warsaw's Central Theatre, under the leadership of Moshe Lipman), "Der glokn-klinger fun notr dam (The Hunchback [Bell-Ringer] of Notre Dame), according to Victor Hugo (staged 6 March 1925 in Vilna's Palace Theatre by Zigmunt Turkow's troupe), "Der vos hot zikh farboyft", according to Emil Zola's "Nantes" (staged on 26 November 1927 in Kovel through Jonas Turkow), "Di zibn gehangen (The Seven Who Were Hanged)", according to Leonid Andreyev (staged August 26 in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre by Hershkovitsh's troupe), "In poylishe velder (In the Polish Woods)", according to Joseph Opatoshu (staged 1929 in Lublin), and the only ones not staged: "Unzer froy", according to Z. Segalovitsh, "Di dopl-gengerin" and "Dos kind fun libe", according to Polish novels.

V. also adapted "Erdgeyst" according to a Vetekin play (staged in 1926 in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre by Zigmunt Turkow) and "Der gurl" or "Vildkeyt in der libe" by Karl Mere (staged in 1926 by Zigmunt Turkow in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre).

From V.'s translations, there were staged: "Di froy, vos hot derhrgt" (24 February 1924 in Lublin's Pantheon Theatre), "Yashivara" by Bokhvits (10 December 1928 in Czestochowa), "Chava", music by Lehar (staged 12 November in Warsaw's Elizeum by Kompaneyets' troupe), "Shoshanah di tsnueh", music by Lehar (staged 13 January 1913, same), "Tsigeyner-libe", music by Lehar (staged 28 February 1913, same), "Puptshik", music by Lehar (staged 13 September 1913 in Kaminski's theatre by Yungvits' troupe), "Di date in roytn" (staged 5 July 1914 in Minsk's Barman Theatre by Anisman's troupe), "Di shansonete" (staged in January 1917 in Lodz's Skala Theatre by Adler-Serotsky's trope), "Meydlmark", "Oyto-libe", "Frilings-luft", "Ven mener shvindlen", "Di dolar-printsesin", "Drey fadlangen", "Susie", "Chardash-firshtin" (all staged in 1917-18 in Warsaw's Central Theatre by Tselmeister's troupe), "Baron Kimel" (staged in 1922 in Lodz's Skala Theatre by Kompaneyets' troupe), and the only ones not performed as dramatic translations were: "Di nakete", "Di muter" after Maxim Gorky, "Mandarin vu", and the operettas: "Di flederhoyz" by Strauss, "Froyen harts" and "Grefin maritsa".

V. also published in various periodical scripts, especially in Zylbercweig's weekly page "Teater un kunst (Theatre and Art)", memories of the Yiddish theatre.

Sh. E.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 913-15.

  • B. Warman -- Matka Machabuszow Jacoba Waksmana, "Kurjer Lubelski", Lublin, 21 Stycz, 1907.

  • Alf -- Farbeygehendig, "Unzer leben", Warsaw, 30 April 1909.

  • N. M. -- "Fishke der krumer oyf der bine", "Literarishe bleter", 13 June 1924.

  • J. Apenszlag -- "Fiszka Kuterlawy", "Nasz Phezegad", Warszawa, 8 Czerwca, 1924.

  • Michael Weichert -- Teater un drame, 1926, Vol. II, pp. 72076.

  • Z. Nisenboym -- "Kidush hashem", "Lubliner togblat", 20 August 1928.

  • Kh. Sapozhnik -- "Poylishe velder", "Pinsker shtime", Pinsk, 16 August, 1929.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Zikhrunus fun a yidishn teater-kritiker, "Archive", Vilna, 1930, p. 387.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 657.

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