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The Forward Vacation Follies

August 1932


August 23, 1932


The most interesting production of the year with be on Tuesday evening, the 30th of August, in the Second Avenue Theatre -- we mean the "Forward" Vacation Follies. Here, more than one hundred actors will participate, among them the greatest stars of the Yiddish stage. The names of every participant will be announced in the morning "Forward."

A program will be given that is filled with sheer laughter. There is only one short act, "The Voice," in which Samuel Goldinburg acts, where you will not laugh because it is a serious matter. Later there will be two large acts and one small act, from which you will burst out laughing. This is Joseph Rumshinsky's and Isidore Lillian's musical, "Jazz Shulamis" and Chone Gottesfeld's "Crisis Convention," and M. Osherowitch's "With the Stars in Europe," which will be performed by Izidor Casher.

Besides this, there are more and more things that will be announced tomorrow.

Tickets can be bought in the "Forward" office, 175 East Broadway, and in the Second Avenue Theatre.


by Chaim Ehrenreich

--Rehearsals will be conducted.
-- There will be both serious and comical numbers.
-- This evening the large production.

August 30, 1932

Only the "Forward," and only such matters as the Vacation Fund that sends poor children into the country, could possibly make such a huge, annual production as the "Vacation Follies." There are still hundreds of actors, musicians and choristers who have not been cast. Participating in a production is not an easy task, but it can still be done. The effect, however, that this has on so many artists, that they come night after night to rehearse, study their roles and take part in mass scenes -- one who is familiar with the actor and knows his nature will understand how extraordinarily difficult this is. And the committee that organized the "Follies" has faced such a difficulty.

The writer of these lines who was given this "assignment" has attended the rehearsals and "supervised" the work for the program committee. He reports that he has not yet had such a pleasant "assignment." It is work that is connected with pleasure, to see how actors play and carry on. An actor who is by nature a cheerful person, even when he serious, feels everything within him. Now several dozen actors are gathered on one stage, studying pieces so that each of their words is meet with humor, and each movement elicits a sea of laughter. I swear that it is one of those most pleasant and most interesting crafts -- if one should call it a "craft."

When you are at a rehearsal of the "Vacation Follies," you first notice this remarkable fact:

Many of the most prominent of our artists, many of the finest actors from the Yiddish theatre, actors with lovely names and lovely artistic reputations, are happy to take part as simple extras in the various numbers. The mass scenes of the Follies are the most remarkable. However, they are not mass scenes composed of young boys and hired people. Hardworking people, these will be ensemble plays by real artists, who now occupy a beautiful place in Yiddish theatre.

I would like to list the names of the "extras." Unfortunately, the lack of space does not allow for some 150 names. However, we will mention a few of them so that the reader has an idea of what kind of mass scenes these will be. We do not choose the names. We only rewrite, as they are written, some of their names:

Wolf Goldfaden, Bella Bellarina, Chaim Schneyer, Henrietta Schnitzer, Anna Hollander, Leah Naomi, Mrs. Dinah Feinman, Moishe Oysher, Florence Weiss, Rosetta Bialis, Helen Bley, Sonia Gurskaya, William Epstein, Kalmen Juvelier, and Louis Birnbaum.

You need to see the actors at the rehearsal of "The Voice." Forget all the gossip about acting glory, about "publicity," things that cause the managers so much headache every season, and the actors become artists again. Only artists can be so united, can create such a mass scene together, that the one "I," one's own ambition, is forgotten. For this reason alone it seems that Yiddish actors should be able to create a mass scene together that is worthy of the "Vacation Follies." Who would believe that the actors who are supervised and distributed across dozens of theatres, very often playing a cheap shund, are able to put together such a powerful ensemble play!

They "rehearsed" a scene from Gottesfeld's laugh-piece, "The Crisis Convention." Going to the rehearsal was difficult. Both the actors -- some hundred names participated -- and the stage director Izidor Casher often laughed at each other. The only one who did not laugh was the author himself, Chone Gottesfeld. He, who abounds with such humor in his piece, is deadly serious when it comes to rehearsals. He crawls around the stage without strain, without seriousness. In some scenes, however, he must also laugh.

One such scene is when the beggars arrive with their president -- Bina Abramowitz. This is a demented laugh-scene. When the beggars bend down and pull out their savings from their belongings, one must be stronger than iron not to laugh. But an "explosion" of laughter comes, when suddenly Mrs. Abramowitz "forgets" her role and begins to play a "mother scene."

The second scene is when the three "sweethearts," Helen Zelinskaya, Annie Lillian and Lucy Finkel, threaten that they will also begin to beg, "Give alms ..." They wear their clothing gracefully, yet they beg for alms.

"Higher, a little higher," Casher asks. "I want it so that all the men in the theatre should feel a warmth in their bones; it should be a Turkish tone ..."

The actresses lift their clothing higher, and the actors who observed the scenes of the orchestra are restless; they talk themselves through it. During the scene, the author had already laughed as well.

However, M. Osherowitch is different. He even goes up on the stage, when they are learning his number, "At the Actors' Union , and With the Stars."  He sits in the second row in the orchestra, supported by his European cane, and he smiles. When the rehearsal ended and the actors were already gone, he went up on the stage and whispered his way through the number with Casher. With this, he expressed his opinion.

Like everyone who is familiar with theatre knows, actors have a hard time advertising, that which is called publicity. Every word that appears in a newspaper is measured and weighed. However, there are difficulties with advertising the "Follies," as it is another theatrical performance. The actor Auerbach explained it very well:

"When I do something for a purpose, I seek no use for it. I believe that there is no more important purpose than sending poor, worker children to the country during the hot summer days in the ghetto. Will I have to worry about whether my name is mentioned or not? And I am convinced that the other actors, in this regard, feel as I do?"

"And besides," says Nathan Goldberg, "An actor who spends an entire season with us may respond to the request of the 'Forward', and we will devote ourselves to him this summer."

This evening is the large production. This evening there will be a couple of thousand spectators sitting in the large Second Avenue Theatre, laughing and collaborating with the actors on the stage. It is hoped that they will laugh with the masses, that they will laugh from eight until twelve, for four hours' time ...

Listing the entire program for this evening is not necessary. It is advertised in today's "Forward." We only had to review several impressions of the lively rehearsal.


-- Famous stars of the Yiddish stage and from Broadway take part.
-- Tens of prominent actors will participate.
-- They will take part, even in mass scenes.
-- The name of the participants in this remarkable evening.
-- It will be the most interesting and greatest summer production of the year to date.

August 30, 1932

Finally, this evening, exactly at eight o'clock, there will be given at the large Second Avenue Theatre this year's production of the "Forward" Vacation Follies. Tickets can be bought at "bargain prices." Only a small number still remain.

The production must begin early due to the length of the program, due to the large number of artists who will participate in it. Those who arrive late will lose, will lose the joy and laughter, which are rare articles nowadays.

We will list, in short, what we will present in the program:

  1. The orchestra, under Joseph Rumshinsky's leadership, will welcome the large audience.

  2. The leadership takes over -- B. Vladeck, the "conférencier" or "master-of-ceremonies." And then the waves of laughter will begin.

  3. M. Osherowitch's two humorous and matching scenes, "At the Actors' Union, and With the Stars." In these two scenes, more than one hundred prominent actors will take part. Nathan Goldberg, as the chairman  of the meeting, will appear as R. Guskin, the manager of the Actors' Union. The real Guskin, however, will also be on the stage. As representatives of the press, there will be on the stage: B. Vladeck, M. Osherowitch, Leon Krishtol, Chaim Ehrenreich, Chone Gottesfeld and other writers.

  4. "Turkish Wives," by Chaim Ehrenreich. Menasha Skulnik will perform as a Turk and speak Turkish. Gustave Goldstein will play with him as a Jewish Turk; also Helen Bernardi will play as a Turkish woman, and Misha Boodkin as a one hundred percent Turk. Well, well, we will laugh.

  5. "Three Pictures," with Leon Bank in all seven roles. Even a deaf person will have to laugh at this number.

  6. "Shulamis of Monticello." Once upon a time there was this Abraham Goldfaden's operetta. Isidore Lillian, Joseph Rumshinsky and Izidore Casher took it in hand, and a fully grown-up adult has come out of it! Avisholem and Shulamis, Manoyekh and Avigdov, Tsing, and Nathan HaCohen  and Avigayil sing jazz, speak slang, and tell "jokes."

  7. B. Vladeck will give the audience several minutes to rest, to gather further strength to laugh, and there even will be a small "intermission" before the second half of the program begins.

  8. "The Voice," written by (well, guess the name of the author). Samuel Goldinburg and more than one hundred prominent actors will participate in this most impressive number.

  9. Maurice Schwartz, the director of the Art Theatre.

  10. Harry Hershfield, the creator of "Abe Kabibble," a person who earns 100,000 dollars with his jokes.

  11. "Crisis Convention," by Chone Gottesfeld. With this number, the witty, comic, and quirky will close the production. People will laugh and roll with laughter.


-- A "Forward" production for the vacation fund that sends poor children to the country is an extraordinary success.
-- Yiddish actors, choristers and other members of the theatre unions have done their duty in a splendid manner.
-- Many had to stand due to a shortage of places to sit.

August 31, 1932

Three-thousand people stood up to the heat last night, against the weather that was sent to New York, and they sat down afterwards for four hours in the Second Avenue Theatre, at the "Vacation Follies." This was the second yearly undertaking that the "Forward" produced for the Vacation Fund, which sends poor children to the country for a week or two.

A rare, remarkable event -- a rare program with a fine, restrained audience that packed the large theatre. Every chair was taken; people even sat two to a chair. They stood head to toe, five deep, one hanging on to the balustrades. The attendees enjoyed the performances with all of their heart, with every bone in their body ...

Already by half past seven in the evening, the crowds began to draw to the theatre. At half past eight it was difficult to find one's way to the theatre. The audience, however, was friendly, good-natured and maintained order. At eight o'clock the theatre already was totally filled. A quarter past eight Joseph Rumshinsky appeared in the orchestra, and a loud applause greeted him. He took up his conductor's baton, the orchestra loudly played, and the production began.

Twenty minutes after eight, B. Vladeck, the "master-of-ceremonies," appeared on the stage. First of all he expressed his gratitude to all the unions that were taking part in the "Follies," to the stage director Izidor Casher, who had worked so hard; to Joseph Rumshinsky, and the wonderful actors. And then Vladeck said:

"We have all cooked up the modern 'Follies' dish especially for you, and we do not yet know if it will work. Will you try it now and see if you like it?"










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