Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Unzer Theatre
("Our Theatre")

On the 29th of April 1923 the "Yidishe teater-gezelshaft (Yiddish Theatre Society)" was founded in New York. The Organization Committee was headed by Peretz Hirshbein, H. Leivick, Menachem, M. Elkin, Dr. Y. Kling, Dr. Sh. Faks, M. Ktn and A. Shein. For the Founders' meeting a committee was chosen of: David Pinski, Peretz Hirshbein, H. Leivick, Menachem, M. Elkin, Dr. Y. Kling, Dr. Sh. Faks, M. Ktn, R. Merlis and Dr. Gdun. The committee had divided into [two parts], an organizational committee and [also] a cultural committee.

The tasks of the society were such: to produce an artistic Yiddish theatre, dramatic studios, a theatre organ, etc. ("Tealit", November 1923). The society, which in November 1923 already had two hundred and fifty members, had issued the monthly journal "Tealit" (published five issues from November 1923 until March 1924).

After unsuccessfully negotiating with Maurice Schwartz, the society took over his theatre and engaged him as one of the directors, with the society founding a theatre studio with M. Elkin as its manager and Richard Boleslavsky, Lazariev, Aleksander Koriansky, Prof. Aaron, Sh. Niger, Y. Yaffe, Dr. Mukdoni, Dr. Y. Shatzky, Leo Liov and M. Elkin as its instructors. In the studio which existed for three semesters, more than thirty students learned. On the 3rd of December 1925, it was known as the "Unzer Theatre," on Boston Road and 180th Street in the Bronx, News York, an intimate theatre for experimentation.

The troupe was composed of: Chaim Shneyer, Miriam Elias, Esther Mendel, Bella Bellarina, Vita Lina, Yoalit, Lisa Varon, Jacob Bleifer, David Vardi, Egon Brecher, A. Pecker, Joseph Greenberg, Jacob Bergreen, V. Eisenberg and Yitzhak Rotblum (the last three of the troupe), and afterwards many students of the studio. The theatre produced an art council of David Pinski, Peretz Hirshbein, H. Leivick, M. Elkin and Chaim Shneyer.

The first play that the theatre performed was "Tog un nakht (Day and Night)", a tragedy in three acts, according to the fragment of Sh. Anski; the first and third act was worked over by David Pinski, the second act was written by Mendl Elkin (and published as "Smals mmshlh [Small? Government]" in "Shriftn," N. Y., 8, 1925-6), Director M. Elkin with the participation of Egon Brecher and Peretz Hirshbein, scenery by B. Aronson, music by Lazar Weiner.

The play was performed seventy-nine times.

The second offering was David Pinski's "Der letster skh-hkhl (The Final Balance)," Director Egon Brecher, scenery B. Aaronson (performed twenty-one times).

The third offering was Raboy's "Shtekhik drot (The Prickly Wire)," directed by Peretz Hirshbein, performed eleven times in an intimate theatre and afterwards in Bremhol (sp) Playhouse, 27th Street, New York.

After a deficit of about ten thousand dollars, the theatre closed in the summer of 1926, and at the same time thereby the activity of the "Yiddish Theatre Society" was also halted.

Sh.E. from Mendel Elkin.

  • Bariktn, "Tealit", November-December, 1923; January and February 1924.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Es vet zeyn unzer teater gevisn, "Literarishe bleter," 48, 1925.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 43.

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