Home  >  Actors Abroad

 

CLARA YOUNG TRAVELS TO RUSSIA TO PLAY THEATRE
 

March 16, 1934
 

It happens often with an artist, mainly with theatre artists, that they travel off to another country, appearing for a new audience, and their entire career takes on a new turn. They can no longer remain a resident in one place. The call of distant lands, the applause from admirers in other regions, call to them. And they follow the call.

One of them is the artist is the well-known Yiddish actress Clara Young. Already for some twenty years she has traveled away from here and returned, and she continues to go away. About her one can, without telling an exaggeration, that she is a world-figure from the Yiddish stage.

She began her long tour in the year 1912, when she traveled to play Yiddish theatre in Poland. From there she traveled deeper into Russia, and she was arrested in Odessa during the World War. There she made it through the horrible years of war and revolution, until she managed to get out in 1918 and return to America.

However, in Russia she left behind a beautiful name for herself, as well as many friends and admirers. When the Soviet government in the years 1924-5 sought an artist as director of the unemployed actors of the former Yiddish theatre, it imported Clara Young. She returned to Russia for a small number of 

 


performances, and there she remained for an entire four years. Instead of some tens of productions, there she gave scarcely five hundred.

After this, after she again left Russia, Miss Young played in Mexico, in Cuba, and in the United States. But she could not settle in one place and play.

And it was not her fault. As the Yiddish theatre is now built in America, if an actor with a name does not fit into it, he has his own theatre building and engages his own troupe. Clara Young, however, only an actress, could not develop any business abilities. She was able to play theatre. This is, unfortunately, not enough for those who want to sustain a troupe.

She leaves again tomorrow. She again travels to Soviet Russia. They are waiting for her there. The actors, as well as the public, hunger for the playing that Clara Young can give them. She brings her musical pieces without propaganda, without morality, pieces that entertains and brightens the mood.

She travels tomorrow morning on the ship "Paris." In France she will spend only three days, but several days in Warsaw, and then she will arrive in Kiev. The collective is already waiting for her -- the same theatre troupe that she played with on her last visit to Russia. In Kiev the first play will be rehearsed, and then the whole company will head to Moscow, where the first performance will be given at the Karsh Theatre. With Young they will also play in Leningrad, Kiev and every other important city in Russia and Ukraine.

In the course of this conversation that Clara Young had with the representative of the "Forward," she spoke about the theatre audience in Russia.

"There they are attracted to good theatre," she said, "Theatre is one of the best spiritual foods. And the protesters were there on compromises -- they did not miss my plays, but they have love for good acting. You see, I have to give myself a compliment, despite the fact that it is not very humble. Finding an artist who can satisfy them is not too expensive for them yet. You know, their most important newspaper, the 'Izvestia' gives a lot of space to the Yiddish theatre."

That they hold Clara Young in high esteem in Russia is shown in the booklet about her that was published there, with an article about her written by the then Minister of Education Lunacharsky.*1

"Yes," Clara Young said further, "I know that I will not be able to get any money out of there, but I want to play theatre for buildings, and where the actor is valued. It's a shame that such a serious critic as Kugel is no more.

"There there are only two sorts of actors: good and bad; they don't know there from older and younger. You are able to play theatre if you are an actor; you can be seventy years old. You see, it a little bit different from us."

They paid for her trip here and back, they are providing her with the hotel and food and a certain percent of the income. She travels with five trunks, costumes, plays, music and other theatre paraphernalia. And she travels with the expectation to meet with her colleagues, and together with them to bring joy and encouragement to the most rejected corners of Greater Russia.

She does not know how long she will spend there. Meanwhile, she's leaving, and it is hoped that when she returns, she will again give us her talent and artistry as before, before she began her wanderings across the world. Perhaps she then will return and become again a citizen once again in the United States of America.

A happy journey, Mrs. Young!

*1 -- Here are two pages of the booklet written by Lunacharsky. (not in the original article)
 

 

Here is part of a program and an ad, with Clara Young and husband Boaz Young, from Russia (not in the original article.):
Intimate Theatre, Petrograd (Leningrad), circa 1920. First photo: play is called "M-le Gopla," b Boaz Yungvits (Young).
 




 

Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre.  All rights reserved.


.