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MANAGER OF THE YIDDISH ACTORS' UNION BRINGS A

GREETING FROM THE YIDDISH THEATRE IN EUROPE
 

R. Guskin spent several weeks on his trip.

-- In Warsaw Maurice Schwartz did splendid business with "Yoshe Kalb,"

as well as with other plays from his repertoire.

-- New York actors will travel to Paris and have a permanent theatre there.
 

by Y.Sh. Prenowitz
 

January 24, 1936
 

Reuben Guskin, manager of the Yiddish Actors' Union, who has returned several days ago from Europe where he spent several weeks, has brought a greeting from the Yiddish theatre in Europe, especially from Warsaw, where he spent a long time. He also tells about the great success Maurice Schwartz had there with I.J. Singer's "Yoshe Kalb" and "Tevye the Dairyman." These plays were performed for packed houses.

Guskin traveled to Europe to study the current situation of the Yiddish theatre and of the Yiddish actors. There was no doubt that his visit to Europe would bring good results for the Yiddish actor on both sides of the ocean.

After every season quite a number of American Yiddish actors travel to Europe, and there they play. His visit will bring more harmony between the European Yiddish actor and the American; it will bring more understanding between them.

 


Guskin was in Vilna, Warsaw, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. He met with the representative of the Yiddish actors in the various cities, various questions were raised and negotiations were conducted. The Yiddish theatre union will initially enter into all negotiations and negotiate them after Guskin submits his report to the union. Of course, he could not decide anything on his own without the consent of the union.

"Being in Vilna" -- Guskin said, among other things -- "I naturally visited YIVO. The Institute made a rare, good impression on me. Everything is done there with love, and those who are active bring great sacrifices for this great purpose. They do everything they can, but the institute needs money to be able to continue with the great and highly successful work."

As Guskin said, he will recommend to the Actors' Union that they should support a student at YIVO for a year at their expense, and he hopes that the Actors' Union will approve his recommendation.

As has been said, Guskin spent a long time in Warsaw. On the question if he believes that Maurice Schwartz will soon return to New York, he answered:

-- In my opinion, Schwartz will remain in Europe for a long time, because he plays there with great success. He plays I.J. Singer's "Yoshe Kalb," then "Tevye the Dairyman," and then when I left Warsaw, he staged "God, Man and Devil." Every time he plays for full houses. He had twenty-seven union actors in his company, and Schwartz's arrival in Warsaw brought in many lives there.

-- I believe -- he continued -- that the local actors' union will thus be interested in creating in New York an art theatre without Schwartz. In New York there is a place for such a theatre. I will help in this regard with everything that will be possible for me, and I believe that the union will also support me in this.

-- In Warsaw's Skala Theatre Yiddish theatre is played under a certain director. The actors work part-time on wages, and part-time they work as a cooperative.  In a second theatre a Yiddish troupe plays "reviews," and there they perform a satire of "Yoshe Kalb."

-- In Warsaw I visited a theatre where no professional actor played. This theatre stood under the stage direction of Dr. Michael Weichert. When I saw them play, I could not imagine that they were not "regular" actors; They played so well and beautifully, and it was a very pleasant experience for me.

-- There are young actors in Warsaw, and in other cities that would very much want to come to New York to play theatre, and they would feel happy if they would have the possibility to do so.

Last year Guskin also was in Europe, and when he returned he read an attack on him in the "Moment" newspaper, because the manager of the Warsaw Actors' Union was under the impression that Guskin, being in Warsaw, offended the actors' union. When he is there now, he noticed that they had no reason to come out with their attack on him. He showed them that he was right. Recognizing that their attack was indeed unjustified, they made good on their mistake by including the following statement in the newspaper:

"Explanation of Yiddish Artists' Union in Poland:

"In conjunction with the current visit by the representative of the American Yiddish Actors' Union, Mr. Reuben Guskin, it was firmly asserted, due to false information in our response (published in 'Moment' of 11 February 1935), to its previous report published in the 'Forward' of 25 January 1935 that Mr. Guskin seized on.

We deplore the unfounded attack on the person of Reuben Guskin. At the same time, we declare to our distinguished guest that the friendly relations between the two sister organizations will continue. The upcoming meetings will be dedicated to addressing the various important questions and problems of the Yiddish theatre and the actor organizations on both sides of the ocean.

Management of the Yiddish Artists' Union in Poland."

After all, as the above statement was printed in the same newspaper in which the attack on him took place, Guskin officially withdrew his negotiations with the management of the local Artists' Union. The following questions were discussed: the guest-appearances of American actors in Poland; about a worldwide association of the artists' unions; about the founding of a general dramatic school, not only for drama, but also for the operettas, and so on.

-- But -- Guskin explained -- I can say no concrete details about this for the time being until I address all the issues with the union.

In the province in Poland -- he said -- several troupes play. In many cities here there are permanent troupes. In other cities there are guest-starring actors' troupes. They play as a cooperative.

On a question about the general situation  in Poland he said that the situation of the Jews in this land is very sad. But he no longer wanted to dwell on this, because the "Forward" correspondents had written enough about the situation of the Polish Jews.

Guskin, as was already mentioned, was also in Belgium. There he found one Yiddish theatre troupe. Wednesday and Friday the troupe played in Antwerp, and Sunday in Brussels. The company plays as a cooperative.  The properties are very bad, and it is difficult for the actors to make a living. He arranged to send to Belgium American actors, although the theatre there has come to life. One of the American actors, Menachem Rubin, has already traveled there, and others will later travel there too.

In Paris there are two Yiddish actor's troupes. The director of one troupe is Lakhtiger, and he pays the actors wages. The second troupe plays in a cooperative.

The general situation of Yiddish theatre in Europe is not satisfactory.

On the question of what the reason is for this, Guskin said that he cannot stop himself about this in detail. His plan is that the American actors' union should help the Yiddish theatres in Paris and Antwerp with American Yiddish actors, because the possibilities for a permanent Yiddish theatre in both cities is very good, but they need to have better actors who could bring it more life and could bring in more of the public to the theatre.

This question, about whether or not those companies should be American actors, was raised at a conference between Guskin and Lakhtinger. Both saw an opportunity to realize this plan.

 

 

 



 

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