-- And who do you think Michalesko made
a statement to? -- the greatest patriots [avid fans] of
Yiddish theatre for the time that I was there? It was every
Jewish-German youth and their German women! For them in the
Yiddish theatre this was new. They had no Yiddish theatre in
Germany, had never seen it before, and probably never heard of
it. If they have once heard of Yiddish theatre, they did not
have a good opinion of it. Now however, arriving in Antwerp,
for the first time they visited a Yiddish theatre, and
-- they became Yiddish theatre patriots. Their German women,
even more than the men. They applauded and many of them were
hugely enthusiastic. They used to come in whole groups, and
they used to sit in the first seats.
Knowing that they are poor people, and
that they still wanted to go to Yiddish theatre, the managers
decided to sell them tickets for a third of the price. And
they expressed their gratitude for it. Even some from the
Jewish-German refugees came, who used to obtain support from
the local aid organizations. They used to refrain from
eating so that they could go to the Yiddish theatre.
The next station was Lodz, Poland,
where he played for seven weeks. For the Jews in Lodz,
Michalesko made them very enthusiastic. He played there in
"The Last Dance."
-- You should see how the Lodz Jews run
to the Yiddish theatre! They are simply in love with the
theatre, and the Jews who come to the theatre in long
jackets (kapotes), in skull caps (yarmulkes),
and even some of them have long side curls (payes),
also run to the theatre. The Lodz Jews -- Michalesko says --
they are very dear people, warm people, and one feels good
when one is among them.
The entire time he was in Lodz, he
played seven days a week, and every time in the theatre the
attendance was good.
From Lodz he made a trip to England. He
played in London, in the Pavilion Theatre, but in London he
was greatly disappointed in all respects.
-- I was sure that the Jews in London
would be excited for Yiddish theatre -- He complained that
they had no enthusiasm. And perhaps they are not to blame
because they do not come to the Pavilion Theatre because the
theatre is one hundred years old, and he has a face like a
hundred-year-old Jew ... The walls are darkened like the
Jewish exile; the stage is not large enough; the seats are
hard, and the balcony has only long benches to sit on, and
everyone who comes early gets a better seat. This was true
of the ancient times in the Yiddish theatres ...
And the theatre-goer behaves like he is
at home ... They speak at the time when there is acting;
they "bite," and even if a child does not behave in a
"dignified" manner, the mother shouts at him in an
unrestrained manner. From there you can imagine how this
makes the actors feel ...
He played in London in the winter time,
-- and in the theatre it was no less cold than outdoors,
said the guest. -- But outdoors there was air, and there
wasn't inside the theatre ... People were banging their
hands together and their feet to warm up a little. But
mostly it helped like used bankes ... Even loving
couples, who were sitting in the theatre, had to huddle
together to warm themselves a little ...
Because of this condition, there may
not be enough theatre-goers.
For three months' time he played there,
and he felt nothing bad when he left London.
-- And they say yet that London is a
greater city than New York! -- he added ...
From London he continued to travel to
Belgium, and from there to Warsaw.
In Warsaw, he says, the youth is cold
to Yiddish theatre, but here there is a reason for it.
It was introduced in Warsaw to drink
tea in coffee houses every day at five o'clock in the
afternoon, and there they play and they dance. The youth
come home, drink tea and they go there, and they dance for
several hours. What else do you go to see a Yiddish theatre
When he was in Warsaw -- the actor
continued to say -- The Polish interior minister Pieracki
and the Endekes were killed there [June 15, 1934]. -- the
anti-Semitic band -- took off its gloves and began to make
pogroms against the Jews. They found enough young Jewish
boys who demonstrated the art of giving back, and -- this
was interesting to see. The "Endekes" could not be shamed
for a long time because the government had arrested them,
and they had no more masculinity to humiliate.
From Kovno, where he played for five
weeks' time, according to Michalesko the local Jews were
cold and not strongly enthusiastic, per his opinion.
However, there is a reason for this. The economic conditions
are now very bad.
After five weeks of playing there, he
traveled to Riga, where the audience was very warm. In Riga
they spoke mainly Russian and German. There one finds many
former, rich Russian Jews who once would not go to the
Yiddish theatre. Some of them were ashamed with Yiddish.
Now, however, "Hitler" has "fixed" them a bit. They began to
feel that they are Jews, and they are no longer ashamed of
their Jewishness, and also not with Yiddish theatre. They
began to rely on Jews and their Jewishness.
And in his entire trip -- Michalesko
said -- he still did not have as much spiritual enjoyment as
he had in Riga. He liked everything there.
-- In Lemberg the Jewish economic
situation is a terrible one, -- the guest continued to
recall -- they went around like the living dead. -- And
about the theatre? It would be better if there was no
theatre there at all.
Michalesko spent several weeks in Iasi,
Romania. There -- he said -- where Yiddish theatre was born,
where Goldfaden staged his first plays -- there are
theatrical thinkers there. They play good plays well and
Jews come. When they play badly, they are gone from the
From Romania Michalesko arrived in New
York last Monday. He went straight to work for the opening
of the Second Avenue Theatre.