"We were not in New York for eight
months' time. We guest-starred in Argentina and Brazil, and
everywhere we went we were greeted with a very warm
welcome, and let me say that the Jews in every country were
friendly to a guest; they took to the guest actor with open
arms, but it is pleasing to return back to New York, because
a state such as New York does not exist."
So after a couple of days back, the
famous comedian, Itzik Feld, together with his wife, the
actress Lola Spielman, just returned back from the
aforementioned South American countries, where they
performed in five various plays from his repertoire.
As Feld tells it, they played for over
five months' time in the Teatro Ambu, Buenos Aires, and a
couple of weeks in the province. Then they traveled to Rio
de Janeiro and to Sao Paolo, Brazil.
In Buenos Aires they intended to remain
there for only twelve weeks, but, as mentioned above, they
played there much longer with success. According to him, the
previous Yiddish theatre season there was the best for many
years, and all the American actors who came there were a
great success. With the arrival of the American guest-stars,
this also greatly helped the entire Yiddish theatre
Arriving in Buenos Aires, Feld tells,
he met many countrymen there who had known him from his home
in Poland. He was then just a young boy who had begun at first
by telling jokes on the stage. However, arriving in Buenos
Aires where he was never in before, he found out that his
name there is not foreign among the Jewish citizens, and
especially among his countrymen who knew him as a young man,
and who expected him to become a famous actor, to see him
play in main roles. Banquets were given for him and his
wife, and there were arranged simkhas (joyous
events) for them in private homes.
In Argentina, the actor said, one finds theatre
patriots, people who will even offer themselves to
the Yiddish theatre, and one of them, who is already not a young
man, distinguishes itself in this regard more than any
other. Yiddish theatre is a part of his life. He breathes
Yiddish theatre, and every actor is a big deal to him ...
Doing something for an actor is a sacred duty, and he does
"his sacred duties" in a remarkable way.
This theatre patriot has a family and
is a worker. However, he has an interesting agreement with
his employer, who, if he had refused to abide by the agreement
with him, he would have given up the job.
And why is the agreement interesting?
You know that every actor, he may even
be a guest-actor, has an evening-of-honor for himself in the
theatre that he plays in. Well, if they could sell tickets for
the evening-of-honor, then their success would be great.
In Buenos Aires, when a guest-actor
comes, he is still a stranger in town. He must have someone
who could meet the ship, help find a room in a hotel, show
him the city, and so on. It feels like the actor is forced
to sell tickets for his evening-of-honor, and they also
feel that it is a sacred obligation for a guest-actor
to help in everything; take him from the theatre to a café
or to his hotel. This takes time to do, and also it isn't
easy work, especially to sell tickets for the
That theatre patriot has an agreement
with his boss, that each time there must be a benefit
for an actor, he could have the right not to work for
several days, so that he may be able to sell tickets; and
secondly, when a guest-actor comes, he would not work for
several days in a shop, in order for him to be able to show
hospitality to him by doing the aforementioned good things
Oy, they need to make a living? Well,
do we have to live to nourish the body? After all, something
must be done to satisfy the soul. It satisfies, they say,
more the soul than the body, but this does not bother him
... that an evening-of-honor is a success, is to him a
spiritual joy, and that he treats an actor "respectably,"
that he feels a holiday in his heart.
Feld told us in the room that one can
find theatre advertisements, or posters in the hundreds,
and many of the posters are already several years old. To us
it looks like they are hanging on the wall like lung and liver in a
butcher shop. He has that archive of Yiddish newspapers in
which one finds the critiques of plays. It does not matter
if the reviews were written about plays that were played in
New York, Chicago, or someplace different. He feels that
every Yiddish actor are members of his spiritual family, and
he considers the success of an actor to be his success, and
he even writes a well-spirited critique of an actor or actress
and feels that any criticism is almost a crime against
him as well.
Feld tells an interesting occurrence in
relation to a critique of the playing of a certain star, who
his great patriot is, and how he, who is a boot stitcher,
prevented the star from learning about the criticism, which
was not favorable.
The critique was written in the
"Forward," but so the star could not see the critique, he
bought all the copies of the "Forward" that was for sale in
Buenos Aires, and he had every copy brought to his house, so
that even God alone could not see what he found. He even
retrieved the copies that arrived at the editor's office of
the newspapers in Buenos Aires.
About the question to him on what
was done, he said: "Why provide for him free... [awk.]? Why
did he shed his blood?"
It sometimes happens that people swear
to be made to believe what they say: And what-what, Shavuos
is not lacking in Jews. One, for example, swore: "I should
live to see the Messiah," or, "I should have such an
The patriot, however, has only one
Suppose that a play is performed, let's
say, called "Toibe, the Mother-in-Law," and he is a great
patriot of the star of the play, "Yankl Varabecik." Well,
when he says something and wants people to believe him one
hundred percent, he swears to himself: "Let him be easily
persuaded with "Toibe, the Mother-in-Law," that I tell you the
truth." This kind of interesting theatre patriot, says Feld,
Buenos Aires possesses!
As was said, Feld is strongly satisfied
with his trip in these South American countries, and there
he has great nakhes (contentment) from himself and from
everyone. Nevertheless, however, in Buenos Aires he also had
"Suppose," the comedian said with a
wide smile, "I'm driving in a taxi to the Teatro Ambu,
where I had played, and traveling there I see a poster with
my image. It gave me a drop of joy in my heart; after all,
one needs nothing more as a human being, that one wants only
a little publicity. And indeed why not? When one dies, one
is still dead, and a dead person can no longer see its image
when it is printed in a newspaper or on a poster ... When I
saw this, that I had my picture on a poster, it made me
happy, and for a moment I thought about it: Here, let my
wife really see that she has made a fine match ... Traveling
back from the theatre, I again wanted to see the 'good'
posters. But imagine my day when I saw that on my posters,
there were posters from another theatre, and there was the
image of the star of that theatre ... Well, can you
comprehend how great my resentment was? But what can be
done? Such is life already. Just like humans, posters also
climb on top of each other, and I let out a considerable
"But when in the morning I continue to
travel to the theatre and look once again at the posters, we
my eyes virtually became brighter, because on both posters I
saw a third poster glued onto the two earlier ones ... That
the star of the second theatre should also feel the taste of
being glued! ...
"When I asked myself how such a thing
could happen, I was told that it is done because of the
competition between theatres."
According to the law, Feld explained,
if you do not have a poster, you have to pay a lot of money
for it. Such posters are affixed with the seal of the
government and may not be affixed. The government, however,
allows you to glue for free, small advertisements (posters),
when one plays in theatres for the good of a common cause.
These little posters can be glued. It's like this: "Let it
be so: as soon as people from one theatre hang their
posters, people come from a second theatre, and they put up
posters on the first ... then people from a third theatre
come and stick their own posters on these. And you just
can't do that ...
That is the way -- he explained -- is
how they run in Buenos Aires. But Buenos Aires is a fine
city, and the Jews there are very good and fine people.