YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  SHIP OF SAINTS                                                 

Nikolai Evreinoff's
"Ship of Saints"
(Di shif mit tsadikim)

Irving Place Jewish Art Theatre
New York, New York
Opened 18 September 1926

The author of this play, Nikolai Evreinoff (or Evreinov), was a Russian director, dramatist and theatre practitioner associated with Russian Symbolism. I've read that this particular play was a great success in Poland.

According to the New York Sun newspaper from 1 October 1926, the "Ship of Saints" marked the return of Jacob Ben Ami to the Yiddish stage, who had been acting on the English stage for a time.

"The story concerns a group of 'saints' who.... set sail on the Anchorite to form a new colony on a Utopian, and ambitions seize hold of the company, the plan comes to naught, and the experiment fails.

Jacob Ben Ami plays the part of Vitali, the life force and gives one of the best performances of his career is a difficult role. Others in the cast are Gershon Rubin, Yechiel Goldsmith, Boris Rosenthal and Stella Adler.

'The Ship of Saints' is an indication of the new policy at the Irving Place Jewish Art Theater. Forthcoming plays include a revival of 'Samson and Delila,' 'The Idle Inn,' 'Hamlet,' and a new production of 'The Golem.'"

In a later edition of the same newspaper, on 20 November 1926, remarks about this play:

"Ben-Ami's return to the Yiddish stage was to usher in art in the higher, stricter sense. His first production this year was Evreinoff's 'Ship of Saints,' a tale of saintly people bent on nautical solitude, drawn back to earth by radio music and light from the shore and suppressed desires within themselves. It was modern in conception, modern in execution. Yet it failed -- but only in the sense that Evreinoff's other drama, 'The Chief Thing,' failed in the Guild production last year. Apparently, too many people still want their drama to be life as they see it or wish to see it -- not as we gropingly think and puzzle about it...."

Best-guess identifications in the photo above:
Seated, l. to r.: unk, Anatole Winagradoff?, Jechiel Goldsmith, Helen Zelinskaya, unk, Stella Adler, Jacob Ben Ami, Lidia Potatska, unk, Liza Silbert, Gershon Rubin.
Standing, l. to r.: Reuben Wendorf, Meyer Schwartz, Zvi Scooler, Peter Graf, Minnie Birnbaum or Liza Varon, Pepi Lavitz, unk, unk, Louis Birnbaum.

Photo taken by Kalart Co.





Photograph courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre.  All rights reserved.