wings of the theatre,
pushing to get ahead of each other, so that for me,
who was unaccustomed to such a 'cacophony of sound,'
which was painful in contrast to the marvelous
decorations and costumes that were so rich. But the
impression was never the less frightening because of
the most unnatural 'noises.'
However, according to
information that veteran actors in America had
passed on to Z. Zylbercweig in the United States, M.
had a large following as an actor: He was greatly
appreciated by the public and had every opportunity
to one day become as famous as Adler, Kessler or
Thomashefsky. But because of the awful political
crisis in those days, and due to the loneliness for
the old haunts and of course for his family, he left
for America in 1898.
Returning to Russia he
once again played for several years upon the Russian
stage. However, during the Fast days in the Russian
Orthodox faith (when it was absolutely forbidden to
perform on the Russian stage), he would appear with
a Yiddish troupe.
Later when it was
officially sanctioned to perform in the Yiddish
(Judeo-German) theatre, M. returned to the Yiddish
stage. He traveled to Warsaw where he played for a
few seasons, thus keeping himself occupied. During
this time he was particularly popular in "Shloymke
charlatan," "The Wild Man" by Jacob Gordin, and in
"Meyer chalant." He also played in Sholem Aleichem's
"Sowed and Scattered," "De Silva" in Nutzkov's "Uriel
Akosta," "Franz Meyer" in Schiller's "The Robber," "Yankl
shabshovitch" in Sholem Asch's "God of Vengeance,"
"The Cardplayer" by Shomer, and "Leyzer Koval" in
Thomashefsky's "Dos pintele yid."
In 1911-12, M. played in
Lodz's "Big Theatre" (director Y. Sandberg), where
he staged several of his own plays.
When the First World War
erupted, M. found himself in Russia where he and the
Yiddish theatre fell under heavy police scrutiny.
From 1922-1927, he played in Kiev's "Kunst vinkl,"
"Mayer" in Ansky's "Dybbuk," "Katzav" in Peretz's
"Bay nakht oyfn altm mark," "Shmuel" in Hebel's "Yehudis,"
"R' Baruckh der nogid," in Fifel's "Dem rebin's
moyfes," "Menachem Mendl" in Sholem Aleichem's
"Tevye der milkhiger," "Pasternak" in Sholem
Aleichem's "Yachne's, Nochman Kosher" in Bimko's "Ganovim,"
and "Poylisher yid." In MIller's "Di moyd fun gas,"
"Katzav" in Chone Gottesfeld's "G'vald, Ven Shtarbt
Er," "Bukhhalter levita" in Litvinov and Avin's "Ten
teg in trieste," "Kohsn" in Itzik Feffer and Noti
Fiddel's "Chimney Sweeper," "Layzer" in Leivick's
"Shop," "Geistlekher" in Rinde-Alekskeyeve's "Iron
Walls," "Rov" in Sholem Aleichem's "Kozodoyevka." "Ayzik
Noftali" in Sholem Aleichem's 'Stepenyu," "Statski"
in Sholem Aleichem's "Lekh lekha," "Ketzele pristov"
in Sholem Aleichem's "A Bloody Joke," "Itzikin" in
Yanovsky's "Hayntiker tog," un "Klient" in Georg
Kaizer's "Fun fartig biz halbe nakht."
On 5 May 1926 the Kiev
"Kunst vinkl" celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of
M.'s theatrical activity. It was decided to dedicate
in M.'s name a permanent loge in the theatre. The
Jubilee took place as a scene from "The Robber" with
the character of "Frantz Moore" and "The Dybbuk" in
the persona of "Mayer."
In 1927 M. fell ill and
could not perform for an entire year. On 13 May 1928
he passed away in Kiev. The funeral, which was
arranged for by the "Kunst vinkl" theatre, and with
the assistance of the "Kiev Union of Actors" was
attended by over a thousand people.
M.'s two sons were also
actors: Lyusa Meyerson performs on the Yiddish stage
("Gezkult"), and his other son Markov performed on
the Russian stage.
M. wrote many songs,
monologues, stories, one-act plays, and the play,
"The Hammer of Life," a play in four acts, produced
by Shreberg, "Vilna 1909" (which was based on Mendl
Elkin's adaptation of Titkovski's "Silnye Ey Slabieh"),
"Sodom and Gemorrah," a comedy in three acts
(manuscript of this play can be found in Lipovsky's
archive in YIVO's Theatre Museum), "The Cardplayer,"
a drama in four acts. "Two Fathers," a drama in four
acts, "A Sacrifice for a Sacrifice," a drama in
three acts, "The Bride's Inn," a comedy in three
acts, "So, This is a Wife," a comedy/farce in three
acts. All of these were organized by M. himself.
M. also translated and
reworked for the Yiddish stage: "The Happy Youth," a
comedy in three acts, "Fresh, Healthy and Crazy," a
comedy in three acts (never performed on stage), and
"To the Old Street," a drama in four acts by
Piserarevski, "Light Souls," a comedy in four acts
by Yvette Raytzis, "Hell," a drama in five acts, a
reworking of the Russian play, "Krushtshina," "The
Great Shmuel," a comedy, and Shakespeare's
In Lipovsky's archive in
the YIVO museum, one can find a manuscript, "The
Singer From Polima," a comic opera i three acts by
M. Meyerson (probably a translation), with music by
A so-called companion
tells us that M. was director and leading comedian
in the famous Ivanov-Novikov's Russian operetta
troupe. He was generally considered to be one of the
best Russian operetta directors.
Dr. A. Mukdoni
characterizes M.'s activities in such a manner At
that very time (1905), Meyerson the actor appeared,
bringing with him the first of his so-called
"literary productions." This very same Meyerson was
the most intelligent Yiddish actor, he came from the
Russian theatre bringing with him a bit of "theatre
culture." The audience, which felt the new winds of
freedom, allowed itself to accept this "literary
experiment." ...At that time, in 1910-13, the
"educated" actors were writing their own plays.
Mostly they were rewritten renditions of existing
Russian, French, or English melodramas. Such a
writer was the talented actor and director M.
M. Mayorovnik tells in
his memoirs: "In Warsaw (1909) many actors used to
occupy themselves teaching amateur actors who
admired certain stage artists. Meyerson and Oscar
Titzelman also took part in such activities. Many
awkward actors, for example, Shtrasfogel, were among
their students. Meyerson and Oscar used to teach
these admirers how to grimace and gesture. They gave
lectures showing them how to speak in front of an
audience. Many fine actors emerged from these
lessons: Libert, Lebediev, Schildlover and Jalbonski
Noakh Prilutski wrote
"It is sufficient to see M. two or three times on
the stage in order to notice that this is an actor
with his own unique and original, personality, which
renders him to e a true artist. One side of his
nature--strong and therefore his own exotic
temperament, which embodies itself elegantly in the
difficult roles in the play, "Wild People," a play y
Gordin one of the most beloved in his repertoire. A
special uncontrollable energy breathes through in
his every movement upon the stage. An even wider
field can be found in Meyerson's temperament in
Schlller's "Robber." In the role of Franz Moore he
became famous among Warsaw intellectual circles. The
second characteristic of Meyerson's personality is a
good, soft, still, subtlety that runs throughout his
entire performance. This actor appears to have been
born for such a wild role as the "idiot" in Gordin's
play. However, he has no comparison upon the Yiddish
stage as in the role of an old man, or as a loving
father or grandfather. Goodness, love--this too is
an aft form. Goodness and love limited by
self-control. In Meyerson's acting one feels this
ability. The personas that he creates on the stage
do not run like oil, nor is it soft like cotton, but
as mild as a strong heart in a fencer's body, from
having overcome troubles and from inborn goodness.
So we see him in the role of "Meier Shalant" ("Sowed
Far and Wide"), and in his own play, "Who is
Guilty?" There is one more quality that Meyerson
possesses that makes him an outstanding singularity
in the Yiddish theatre aristocratic culture. He
cultivated it in the Russian theatre. ...He
demonstrates it on the stage in a very natural
manner. Every movement is soft, svelte, polished and
intelligent. He doesn't act; he lives the drama,
creating a character on the stage, not only for the
eyes of the audience alone, but in every one of his
innermost processes. M. was also the most
intelligent and experienced of all the Jewish
According to Zalmen
Zylbercweig, M. was a master of makeup. he would
prepare his own. He would coat his fingers with
different colors and actually with one smear he
could create any shade or color. By the way, he was
short, chubby and with a a melancholy air, almost
Mongolian in appearance. with a remarkable ability
he would transform his external appearance in a sea
of chalk. Exactly as if it was so easy for him to
change into a comic character. He would often
achieve a caricature affect, and yet he was able to
also present himself in the most serous roles that
he played. He possessed a silky chest-tone and
graceful feet with which he could dance across the
stage and a delightful voice. He could lift his
voice when called upon, to the highest registers and
could express in music, the highest temperament in
jest or in drama. His repertoire was not selective,
but was taken from the world of shund to the
most sophisticated artistic plays.
However, he played in
each genre with the utmost sincerity. His method of
directing was not stereotypical "direction" of the
Yiddish theatre at that time. Frequently he would
pay special attention to the decorative side of a
play, or of the actors, many of whom looked upon his
as their Rebbe and even the other directors
under whom he sometimes performed, would relate to
him as to an intellectual, and a Russian-trained
actor and director." They embellished him with
respect and followed his advice. M. was mythical due
to his appearances on the Russian stage--or due to
his renown. Even later on, when he returned to the
Jewish world, he would frequently out of habit
before entering the stage, cross himself.
Y.M. Leiptsiker and M. E. from A.G. Kompanayets and
Z Reisen -- "Lexicon of
Yiddish Literature," Vol 2, pp. 395-6.
B. Gorin -- "HIstory of
Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 1, p. 234.
[--] -- Naye yidishe
shoishpiler, "Di arbeyter tsaytung," N.Y., 21
Noakh Prilutski -- M. Meyerson,
yidish teater," Bialystok, 1921, Vol. II, pp.
M. Myodovinik -- Mayne teater
zikhroynes, "Der shtern," zhurnal, Minsk, 4,
1926, p. 36.
Rudolf Zaslavsky -- Mark
lazarovitsh meyerson, "Ilustrirte vokh," Warsaw,
Jacob Botoshansky -- Tsvishn
forhang un leyvnt, "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 27
Emilia Adler -- Dos leben fun
yidisher akterise, "Di yidishe velt," Cleveland,
21 October 1930.
Dr. A Mukdoni -- Zikhrones fun
a yidishn teater-kiritiker, "Archive," Vilna,
1930, pp 344, 387.