Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Semyon Yushkevich


Born in 1868 in Odessa, Ukraine.

1893 -- Went away to Paris and there finished the medical facultat, in 1897 debuted in Russian with the story "A Tailor" in "Russkoye Bogatstvo". 1902 -- published his, in "Sunrise", after his years as a student he wrote down his story "Tsefalung".

In the span of his thirty-years of literary activity, Y. had written about twenty five volumes of novellas, novels, and dramas, of which a large part was published in the well-known Russian publishing house "Banner".

From his dramas that he had begun to write in 1905, and which were performed on the Russian and European stages, were his plays were however translated under his dictation.

Y.'s play "Der hunger (The Hunger)" was in 1906 published in M. Olgin's translation in Warsaw's publishing house "Di velt", and often was performed by Yiddish non-professional theatres. On 3 October 1918 the play was staged by Boris Thomashefsky (in his "adaptation") in New York's National Theatre.

Y.'s play, "Der kenig, oder, David grosman der mihlbezitser" in 1907 was published in Warsaw in the translation of Renkop. The play was very often performed by various Yiddish troupes, and on 19 October 1908 it was staged by Boris Thomashefsky (in his "adaptation") in New York's People Theatre.

 The play also was performed in Hebrew in Eretz Yisrael.

In 1909 Y.'s play "In shtot", in the translation of Wolf Zilberberg, was staged by the "Hirshbein Troupe". The play later was in another translation staged by various other troupes.

In June 1915 the play, in Max Gabel's adaptation, was staged in Gabel's theatre in New York under the name "Dos gasen-meydel (The Girl of the Streets), oder, der yid mit di tshvekes".

In 1910 in Odessa, there was published Y.'s play "Di heyratskomedye" [in an anonymous Yiddish translation], which soon thereof was performed. On 6 November 1925, the play in A. Kartazhinski's translation under the name of "Der luft mentsh", was staged in New York's Yiddish Art Theatre (director -- L. Sniegoff). In 1925 the play in the translation of L. Kadison under the name "Der luft-mentsh'' was staged by the "Vilna Troupe" in Chicago. On 31 January 1929 the same play under the name "Di komedye fun heyrat", in the translation of Wolf Goldfaden, was staged through the translation in New York's Folks Theatre.

In February 1913 in Gabel's comedy theatre in New York, there was staged by Max Gabel (in his adaptation) N. Rakov's translation of Y.'s "Mentshn un khyus, a life drama in four acts".

In 1917 the "Vilna Troupe" staged Y.'s play "Miserere", which was published in print in Odessa.

On 25 February 1925 in New York's Yiddish Art Theatre, under the direction of Leonid Sniegoff, there was staged by the "Freie yidishe folks-bine" the play under the name "Miserere" (despair).

In 1918 in the "teater far kinstlerishe eskizn bey der kunst-gezelshaft in vilne", there was staged Shabtai Bliakher's translation of Y.'s one-acter "Zeyn eydem".

After the October Revolution, Y. left the Soviet Union, and he went over to Paris, and arrived in America in 1921, where on 17 February there was staged in the Yiddish Art Theatre (director -- Maurice Schwartz) his comedy "Di geshichte fun h' sonkin" under the name "An orimans libe" [translation by Avraham Teitelbaum]. Later the play under the name "200,000, a comedy in four acts", translated by Ida Kaminska and Zygmunt Turkow, was performed by them in Russia, and then under the name "Di geshikhte fun h' sonkin", oder, "Dem orimans mazel", staged (director -- Z. Turkow) by Vik"t in Warsaw.

The comedy also was performed in Hebrew in Eretz Yisrael under the name "Mesh badun sunkin".

In "Tsukunft" (N. Y., September 1921), Y. published his one-acter "Leydenshaftn".

In 1925 in Gabel's theatre there was staged in Abraham Blum's translation of Y.'s play "Teyvls-gelt".

On 23 January 1926 in the Yiddish Art Theatre, there was staged (director -- Maurice Schwartz) Y.'s "Mendel spivak", a drama in three acts" (decorations -- Alex. Chertov).

On 22 November 1928 in Gabel's People's Theatre there was staged by Gabel Y.'s play "Der gelt-got".

According to Z. Reyzen in New York there was staged Y.'s play "In a reykh hoyz".

Not staged were Y.'s play "Ale in maskes khuts eyner", translated by Mendl Elkin, which was prepared for the Irving Place Theatre (with Jacob Ben-Ami).

In the beginning of 1927, Y. traveled to Paris, where on 12 February 1927 he passed away and was brought to his eternal rest in the Bonye Cemetery. On his grave was erected a gravestone, according to the composition of the sculptor Aronson.

After Y.'s death, in Paris there was founded a committee that published in the Yiddish translation Ruchel Feigenberg his three volumes of stories.

W. Grossman characterized Y.'s productions as such: "A splendid connoisseur of the Yiddish milieu, in which he used to constantly write; he had seen it through and through. Neither trifle nor nuance of the ridiculous of the zatn kleynbirgrtrum, which wishes to climb ever upward and upwards, not to remain unnoticed by his eye. He saw and felt, laughed and also seemed to enjoy the laughter....his own people."

Zalmen Reyzen characterized him entirely differently. By himself he grew out, outside the sphere of the traditional Yiddish life. Y. had a scant understanding of that life, for his motions and regungen, and the deep ine?t, the artistic vert for his work, which was often schematic and dry, tendencies, with a desire for external effects".

M. Osherowitz characterized his productions: By himself, a realist through and through; there emerged in him a strangeness in his heroes -- the Odesser Yiddish tailor and shoemaker, and the glat poor soul, speaking with him in Russian, he had tried to violate the Russian language because of them. He had tried to give its spirit in Russian and the tone in Yiddish, but from that also nothing good came of it -- not for the Russian language, nor for Yushkevich's heroes/....Russian critics had complained to him because he mutilated so very much the Russian language, and Yiddish critics had complained to him because he mutilated in the same way Yiddish types.

Sh. E. by N. Frank.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 1270-72.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 267, 280.

  • D. B. [Sh. Yanovski] -- In theater, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 31 October 1908.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- In di new-yorker teaters, "Keneder odler", Montreal, 27 February 1913.

  • Bel-mkhshbus -- "Geklibene shriften", Vilna, 2nd volume, pp. 101-103.

  • D. B. -- In theater, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 12 June 1915.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Yushkevitshes "hunger" in thomashefsky's theater, "Forward", N. Y., 5 October 1918.

  • J. Entin -- Yushkevitshes "hunger" in nashonal teater, "Di varhayt", N. Y.,  7 October 1918.

  • B. Gorin -- Neye shtiker oyf der idisher bine, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 9 October 1918.

  • David Wagner -- Iden in der rusisher literatur, "Forward", N. Y., 28 November 1920.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Semyon yushkevitsh'es talent, "Forward", N. Y., 11 February 1921.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Yushkevitsh in shvarts's theater, "Forward", N. Y., 19 February 1921.

  • B. Gorin -- An orimans khlum, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 21 February 1921.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- A gute piese, gut geshpielt in shvarts's kunst teater, "Forward", N. Y., 11 November 1925.

  • L. Kesner -- "Der luft mensh", "Yidtgbli"t", N. Y., 13 November 1925.

  • Alter Epstein -- "Der luft mensh", "Tog", N. Y., 13 November 1925.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Der luft mensh, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 13 November 1925.

  • Big Ben [B. Finkel] -- Shvarts un baratov in der bester komedye fun sizon, "Di naye varhayt", N. Y. 14 November 1925.

  • L. Sokolovski -- A tenh tsu kesnern, "Yidtgl"t", N. Y., 20 November 1925.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Yushkevitsh'es "Mendel spivak" in shvarts's kunst theter, "Forward", N. Y., 28 December 1926.

  • A. Glants -- Di neye piese ins idishen kunst teater, "Der tog", N. Y., 30 December 1926.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Mendel spivak, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 31 December 1926.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Teater un drame", Warsaw, II, pp. 60-63.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- In der velt fun teater, "Der amerikaner", N. Y., 7 January 1927.

  • B. Botvinik -- "Mendel spivak" in shvarts's kunst teater, "Der veker", N. Y., 15 January 1927.

  • [--] -- Biografie fun semyon yushkevitsh, "Parizer haynt", 14 January 1927.

  • W. Grossman -- Semyon yushkevictsh. Same.

  • M. Osherowitz -- Semyon yushkevitsh der barimter idish-rusisher shriftshteler, "Forward", N. Y., 15 February 1927.

  • Rukhl Feigenberg -- Shmeon yushkevitsh, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 19, 1927.

  • Dr. Y. Kritikus [Kirschenbaum] -- Semyon yushkevitsh toyt, "Der amerikaner", N. Y., 25 February 1927.

  • Y. A. Berlovitsh [Leyzerovitsh] -- Der toyt fun barimten shriftshteler yushkevitsh in pariz, "Forward", N. Y., 26 February 1927.

  • Semyon Yushkevich -- Farvos hob ikh ongehoyben shreyben fun yudishen leben?, "Lodztgb"lt", 7 April 1927.

  • S. Ivanovich -- Vos far a sort iden hot geshildert yushkevitsh?, "Forward", N. Y., 25 December 1927.

  • Dr. Moshe Lustig -- Gastrolen "vikt". "Dem orimans mazel", komedye in 3 akten fun sh. kushkevitsh, "Morgen", Lemberg, 7 January 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 937.

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