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HE BRINGS GREETINGS

FROM DISTANT LANDS
 

January 6, 1933
 

After an absence of an entire three years from New York, the young actor Jacob Rechtzeit has returned. For three seasons he was engaged for "several months" to play in Argentina, and several months became thirty-six since he has played in his own countries.

During that time he played in the cities and towns of Argentina and Uruguay, in Paris, in Belgium, in Romania, and in Poland. In the last two countries he played for a year's time in each. Of all the countries in which he played, Rechtzeit returned with a bundle of newspapers in which people praised him. But he is not so proud of it.

"When I left," he says, very humbly, "I did not have a far-advertised name. Yiddish theatre visitors in New York, and in several other cities know me. However, farther away, mainly outside of the United States, my name is absolutely not known. If so, I've played eight months in South America; two seasons in Romania; a year in Poland, and I may be returning to Paris for a "return engagement." I think, proudly. I'm pleased with the audience, and I hope you do like what I am saying."

He speaks with a great love about the Yiddish theatre-goer in those countries.

 


"In America if the person becomes somewhat lost," he says," you talk to a newspaper writer, for example, he thinks you are just out for publicity, and he watches out for an actor, otherwise the actor does not feel at home with the writer. The spectator in the theatre sees the "show," gossips if it pleases him, and he is not interest with the actor. In Europe -- there in something else. There, when one meets, the eyes flash, one is interested in an actor as an artist and as a living person. It's getting warmer there, friendlier.

This is what Rechtzeit is talking about, and from this it can already be seen that he was good in Europe.

In Romania, he recalls, he had a success, a pleasure.

"In the end, I was shocked. I thought that as soon as I crossed the border, a Romanian with a knife would hand me over. But it was just the opposite. The Jews there were warm, heartfelt, and they love Yiddish theatre. Even those who don't understand Yiddish go to the Yiddish theatre. In the beginning it was the cradle of the Yiddish stage. What more do you need? At my performances, thirty percent of the public were Christians. When Joseph Buloff played there, almost half of his public were "non-Jews."

One of Rechtzeit's hot patriots [avid fans] was the Greek ambassador, and his wife. In Warsaw Rechtzeit attracted to his productions an aristocratic audience, despite the fact that he played on Smocza (Yiddish: Smotshe) street, which is where one finds the poor area of the city.* [ed.: The theatre here was probably the Eldorado.]

Now they are negotiating with Rechtzeit for Chicago and for Boston, and also for New York. But our hearts tell us that he will not last long in America. He is surrounded by a dream. He was very welcome in Europe and longed for it.

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* -- To read more about the poor, Jewish neighborhood on pre-WWII Smocza Street, go to the well-written and moving 2017 article in the Forverts (in English) at: https://forward.com/yiddish/370230/reimagining-the-lively-character-of-pre-war-smocza-street/.

 

 

 



 

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