YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  SOLOMON KAUS, THE INVENTOR                                                 


by Albert Brachvogel

This production was billed as a "grand benefit performance,"
and it was presented by Jacob P. Adler, Sarah Adler, and their company,
for the benefit of the Emanu-el Brotherhood.

The synopsis below is from a benefit performance
at the Grand Theatre in New York City, on December 5, 1904.

The photographs below are of some of the
cast members from the 1904 production.


Jacob P. Adler,
who plays
Solomon Kaus, the inventor

Sarah Adler,
who Suzanne, wife of
Solomon Kaus

Samuel Greenberg,
 who plays
Lord Winchester, a peer of England

Samuel Kasten,
who plays
John Tremel,
his English valet



Act 1.

The act is divided into two scenes. One is the study of Solomon Kaus (Jacob P. Adler), and the other a saloon belonging to Jeannette (Dora Weissman) and De Jerbelé (Solomon Manne).

Solomon Kaus has invented a machine to be run by steam and such [a] mechanism, as [it] will enable the rapid revolving of wheels and enabling the people to travel more rapidly.

He tells his wife (Sarah Adler) that some day he will make her a rich and happy woman. During his meditation he is interrupted by the announcement that Lord Worchester (Samuel Greenberg) wishes to speak to him on a matter of business.

The Lord tells him [that] he wishes to buy his invention, whereupon Kaus becomes enraged and wants to oust the Lord. His wife prevents a scandal. De Jerbelé tells the Lord that he will assist him in getting the necessary papers and models from the inventor. De Jerbelé, the spy, goes to see the Cardinal.

John Tremel (Samuel Kasten), my Lord's valet, seeking his master, comes upon Jeannette, and they enjoy themselves.

Presently an officer of the Gendarmes enters, and by order of Cardinal Richelieu (Kalmen Juvelier), places Solomon Kaus under arrest and confiscates all his papers. Then ensues a pitiful parting between husband and wife.

Act II.

The audience room of Cardinal Richelieu's palace.  The poet Sassisky (Efrim Perlmutter) enters, ready to entertain the Cardinal, who is still absent. De Jerbelé has met Jeannette, a sweetheart of the Cardinal, and is teaching her the customs and etiquette of the Court.

Cardinal Richelieu enters and looks over his letters and papers and then wishes to hear the poet who begins his new epic poem when interrupted by Lord Winchester, who tries to speak to the Cardinal, whereupon the Lord is relegated to the rear, and Cardinal Richelieu says that he has no time then to speak to even a peer of England and orders Worchester's arrest. The Poet then goes on with his recital. When he ends Solomon Kaus is brought before the Cardinal, who inspects his models and asks Kaus if his invention has any political significance, he having been informed that the inventor is a spy because of his dealings with Lord Worchester.

Kaus answers that if his invention tends to enlighten and serve the people at large, as he wishes it to, then it has a wide and liberal political meaning. Whereupon the Cardinal orders that he be put in irons and placed in an insane asylum, saying that even if Kaus were not insane, the asylum was the proper place to have his deranged mind under the treatment of a good doctor.

The act closes by Kaus denouncing the Cardinal as a despot and a political trickster.

Act III.

The first scene is a room in Jeannette's house, and Suzanne comes to see her to intervene on behalf of her husband. She promises to do so. The Cardinal enters, and Jeannette after making a pretended effort to love him, obtains his consent to allow her sister Suzanne to visit her husband Kaus in the asylum. He orders De Jerbelé to draw the necessary papers. He then leaves and Suzanne goes away with the papers, and then Jeannette meets John Tremel, who is overjoyed at meeting her again. They sing and dance.

The second scene is the insane asylum, where Kaus is confined. The inmates are driven into the church for evening prayer, and Kaus suddenly leaves the line and hides behind a tree, delighted at the chance of being alone and enjoying the fresh air. The warden misses him, and then discovering him is about to strike him when Kaus tears the whip away from his hand, when the doctor appears and directs that the inmate is to be given his freedom at pleasure. Kaus says, "Every human being is subordinate, but when he gets the whip into his hand, then he himself becomes a tyrant and a despot."

Suzanne is announced, and a pathetic meeting takes place between Kaus and his wife. She informs him that their child is dead.

The officer of the asylum announces distinguished visitors for Kaus. They are Lord Worchester, De Jerbelé and Jeannette. Worchester again offers to pay 30,000 louis for his invention, and Jeannette tells Kaus that she has a paper empowering the warden to free him. The Lord gives the money to De Jerbelé and asks him to count it over, and Kaus in the meantime hands over the models and invention to the Lord. De Jerbelé with the money in his possession, and Lord Winchester with the invention quietly goes off while Kaus prepares himself to leave the asylum, which has been his prison for three years and takes leave of his friend the doctor. At the gate he is stopped and asked for his release papers. Jeannette hands over her paper to the officer, who looks it over and says that this is no release, but an order to further investigate his case. When Kaus hears this he runs to the gate and asks the warden to stop the two men who just left. He is told that they took a wagon and drove off. He then in reality becomes insane.

Act IV.

The scene is a parlor in the house of Jeannette where the Cardinal is being received by her. Suzanne enters and appealingly cries to him to free her husband, who is still confined in the insane asylum. The Cardinal asks her who her husband might be. She tells him it is Solomon Kaus, the inventor, and he replies, "Isn't he free yet? I thought I had given orders for his release." The Cardinal calls for De Jerbelé, and tells him he is a rascal in having failed to carry out his orders regarding Solomon Kaus, and prophecies that he will have a very bad ending this very day. He orders a courier to be sent to the asylum and have Solomon Kaus brought to him. During the interval for Kaus' appearance, the Cardinal peruses his mail and finds a letter from England, which tells that Lord Worchester is now the man over whom all England is enthused, and people as well as Parliament, are lauding him for his wonderful invention. This news breaks the heart of Suzanne, and she falls fainting onto a couch. Solomon Kaus is now brought before the Cardinal a raving maniac. The Cardinal tries to make him understand that he has made an error and wishes to atone for it by making him inventor of the machinery department of France. Suddenly Kaus has a few lucid moments and recognizes the Cardinal and says, "You have again put on your red robe, which is covered with the blood of so many thousands of innocent human beings whom you have ruined." Suzanne dies of a broken heart. Kaus again becomes a raving maniac and dies a fearful death.

De Jerbelé is now put in irons and sent to the same insane asylum from which Kaus was brought. The doctor who was with Kaus tells the Cardinal of a vision which appears behind him, and which reveals a statue of Kaus, erected in his memory; and the people of France during the regime of the new Republic making the day of its dedication a national holiday.

Dora Weissman,
who plays Jeannette,
sister-in-law to Kaus

Solomon Manne,
who plays De Jerbelé,
her sweetheart
and a spy

Kalmen Juvelier,
who plays
Cardinal Richelieu

Louis (Leizer) Goldstein,
who plays Borne,
the Cardinal's secretary

Efrim Perlmutter,
who plays
the poet Sassisky





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

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