In 1912 Ben-Ami was
invited to London to be the director and leading
actor in the dramatic presentations of Feinman’s
Artistic Temple (Feinman's Yiddish People's Theatre
- ed.). After four months, however, the
theatre was closed down. Ben-Ami was then invited to
America to join Sarah Adler’s troupe, where Schildkraut was
performing at the time. There Ben-Ami
performed in “The Green Maiden,” but this theatre
too closed down in the middle of the season. Ben-Ami
then became a member of the actor’s union, and in
1913 he was contracted to Thomashefsky where he acted
in Dymow's “Eternal Wanderer” under the direction of
In 1914 Ben-Ami toured
with Keni Lipzin. In the spring of that year, he
appeared at the Neighborhood Playhouse, with
a group of amateurs in three one-act plays by I.L. Peretz.
In 1915, Ben-Ami signed
on once more with Thomashefsky who assigned him very
few roles over the next two years. He then joined
Lieberman’s theatre where he played in a
melodramatic repertoire directed by Weintraub. There
he created the character “Note vasertreger” in
Kalmanowitz’s “A Mother’s Worth."
In 1917 Ben-Ami signed
on with Schwartz’s Irving Place Theatre, where they
presented Pinski’s “Love's Strange Ways” and Hirshbein’s “Faraway Corner,” which became the hallmark of this theatre.
In 1919-1920 with
Ben-Ami in the lead, along with a group of actors
and thanks to the material assistance of Louie
Schnitzer, they founded the Jewish Art Theatre with
Emanuel Reicher as director.
The theatre had two
names: In Yiddish, "The New Yiddish Theatre” (Dos naye yidisher teater), and in English, “The Jewish
Art Theatre” (this name was bestowed on it by
The repertoire of this
theatre was: Hirshbein’s, “Puste kretchme” (Empty
Shops), “Grine felder” (Green Fields); various
one-act plays by Sholem Asch; “Mit’n shtrom” (With
the Stream) by Sholem Aleichem; “Mentshn” (People),
also, Pinski’s “Shtumer moshiakh” (The Silent
Messiah), Dymow's "Bronx Express," Hauptmann’s
“Eynzame mentshn” (Lonely People), Tolstoy’s “Macht
fun finsternish” (The Power of Darkness), and a
reworked version of Sven Lang’s “Samson and
In 1920-1921 Ben-Ami
started to perform for Arthur Hopkins in his
English-language theatre. Later he performed with
the British Theatre Guild as an actor and director.
During the period from
1920-1929, Ben-Ami would perform from time to time
in guest performances in Yiddish.
In the 1926-1927 season
he was an actor/director for a Yiddish troupe in the
Irving Place Theatre (it went by the name of “Dos naye yidishe kunst-teater”
(The New Yiddish Art Theatre). Here he presented “Di shif mit tzadikim”
(The Ship of Saints), by Evreinoff, which was
directed by the author; Ben-Ami, and Jacob Mestel’s
“Shop fun leyvik" (Leivick’s Shop), “Fun yener velt”
(From the World of the Dead), from Berkowitz’s
scenes from Dostoyevsky's “The Idiot” and the
rewritten “Samson and Delilah.”
B. Gorin: Happenings
in the Yiddish Theatre, Vol. 2, pp. 195 and 237-245.
J. Entin: A yunge aktyor in a groyse role (a young
actor in a great role), Di varhayt, October 6, 1917.
Waiter’s Shtumer (The Silent Ones) in nayem yidishn
teater (New Yiddish Theatre). Di naye velt, New
York, April 16, 1920.
Dr. A. Koralnik: Shildkroyt and Ben-Ami, in Der tog,
November 21, 1920.
Loel Slonim - Ben-Ami derzeylt vi er hot gefilt bay
zany ershtn oyftrit oyf der englisher bine (Ben-Ami
tells how he felt when he first appeared on the
English language stage).
Dr. A. Mukdoni - “Teater” (Theatre), New York 1927,
Jacob Mestel - “Zeks koyln tzaychnungen (Six
charcoal drawings)” ,Yiddish Theatre, Warsaw 1927.
Vol. 2, pp. 196-197.
Sh. Kumner -Zichroynes vegn der hirshbayn troupe
(Memories of the Hirshbein troupe), teater
zichroynes (theatre memories), edited by Z. Zilbertzveig,
Vilna, 1928, pp. 69-86.
Y. Shames - Yaakov Ben-Ami
vegn yidishn teater in
amerike (About Yiddish Theatre in America), “Lit-bal”,
Vol. 9, 1927.
Abba Lillian - “Samson and Delilah” “Yidishe vilne”,
Philadelphia, June 5, 1924.
H. Parker- Jacob Ben-Ami and Berta Gertman “Dos
yidisher vort” (The Yiddish Word), Winnipeg, May
Dr. A. Koralnik - David Warfield--Ben-Ami, “Der tog”
N.Y., January 14, 1923.
G. Buchwald - Ben Ami’s Triumph in Samson and
Delilah, Frayhayt, October 8, 1926.
L. Malach - Yaakov Ben-Ami un zayn yidishe kunst
teater (Jacob Ben-Ami and his Yiddish Art Theatre),
Di prese, Vol. A. February 20, 1927.
G. Buchwald - Vos Ben-Ami and the players created in
Leivik’s “Shop”, Frayhayt, Vol. 9, Dec. 1926.
A. Glantz - “Shop” , Der tog, Dec. 10, 1926.
Ab. Cahan - A
naye piese in irving pleys teater (A
New Play in the Irving Place Theatre) “Shop”,
Forward, Dec. 14, 1926.
G. Buchwald - Leyvik’s sotziale drama in an
umgeveyntlicher oyffirung (Leyvik’s social-drama in
an unusual presentation), Frayhayt, Dec. 8, 19.
A. Frumkin - Samson and Delilah in Irving Place
Theatre, Der tog. N.Y. , October 20, 1926.
Dr. A. Mukdoni - “Di shif mit tzadikim” (The Boat of
the Righteous) ,Tog zhurnal, N.Y., September 22, 1926.
Ab. Cahan - Yevrayenov’s New Play in the Irving
Place Theatre, Forward, September 21, 1926.
A. Frumkin - “Di shif mit tzadikim” A beautiful,
interesting theatrical play, Der tog, September 24,
Pompadour - Drama-ayn, drama-oys (drama in and drama
out) “kunst” (art), N.Y., October 20, 1926.
Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Samson and Delilah, October 23,
A. Volyhiner- Eyndruckn fur yidishn
teater-fortshrit” Impressions of the Yiddish
Theatre. Developments, N.Y. October 22, 1926.
Ab. Cahan - Berkovitch’s new drama in the Irving
Place Theatre, Forward, Nov. 9, 1926.
Shachne Epstein - A Literary Melodrama with an
allusion to something more, Frayhayt, Nov. 10, 1926.
Pompadour - “Fun yener velt”, Kunst, Nov. 10, 1926.
Dr. A. Mukdoni - “Fun yener velt”, Yidishe teater,
Nov. 12, 1926.
L. Kesner - “Fun yener velt”, Yidishe teater, Nov.
A. Glantz - “Fun yener velt”, Der tog, Nov. 14, 1926.