Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Abraham Pravatiner


Born on 17 August 1887 in Novograd Volynskiy (Zvhil), Volin region, into a family of lumbar merchants and rabbis, where he received a traditional Jewish and secular education.

Even in his early youth he manifested a desire for writing, painting and playing theatre. At the age of ten he issued in Hebrew a children's story in "Oylem ktn," and in the span of thirty-five years published many articles and stories in: "Fraynd," "Dos leben," "Bafrayung," "Der vanderer," "Tsukunft," "Forverts," "Oyfkum," "Grininke baymelekh," "Kinder-zhurnal," "Shikago (Chicago)," and "Dos vort" in Winnipeg.

In 1914 he completed the "Moscow Dramatic Academy" as an "Artist Regisseur," but after five months of participating with a Russian troupe, he became mobilized into the Russian army during the outbreak of the war.

In 1919 P. was regisseur-instructor for the Jewish section of the Kiev "All-Ukrainian Theatre Komitet," where he directed with three dramatic sections, while at the same time he contributed to the drama studio of Falk Haperin's "Tefilus," and his dramatization of I. L. Peretz's "Der din Toyre mit'n vint" a masn-shpil with singing and dance, set through the ballet master Mordkin.

From 1920-1922 he directed with Russian and Yiddish troupes across the larger provincial cities of the Ukraine.


In the Spring of 1923 he arrived in America, and staged with "Kunst-vinkl" to the Avraham Reyzen innovations in "Madison Square Garden" a "dramatization of Reyzen's 'Der prush,' and in "Heckscher Foundation Theatre Peretz's "Der din Toyre mit'n vint" and David Kassel's "Shnayelekh."

From 1923 until 1927 P. directed with the "Newark(?) Dramatic Circle." During this time he also staged in New York's "Irving Place Theatre" Moishe Nadir's "Sarah'tshe," with the author as narrator.

Working as a teacher in the "Sholem Aleichem School 2," which had possessed its own theatre auditorium for several hundred attendees, P. staged there about forty children's plays and mass-shpiln, most of the time by himself composing the dramatizations of Peretz and Sholem Aleichem, as well as translations of American and European children's repertoire.

He also directed with the "Maskn-shpiler," a dramatic group of professionals, semi-professionals, and members of "Kunst-ring," which had performed that month small plays by Yiddish playwrights.

In 1930 P. put on in "Carnegie Hall" to Yehoash's first anniversary dramatizations of Yehoash. He migrated in the same year over to Calgary, Canada, where he was principal of the local I. L. Peretz Institute, and there he managed for three years with a dramatic circle, which each month gave productions, and besides that four children's operettas a year with the participation of the schoolchildren.

Since 1936 P. has been found in Chicago as a teacher of the local "Workmen's Circle" School. Besides the four times a year he stages children's productions for his school, there he had in the year 1941 put on his own pageant, "Der boym un di keyt," with the participation of two hundred schoolchildren. In 1944, for the twenty-fifth jubilee of the "Workmen's Circle" school, he staged his pageant, "In gang fun tsayt," with the participation of three hundred children.

He also staged with youths: Sholem Aleichem's "Tuviye der milkhiger," "Menschen," and "Farbitn di yutsrus," Peretz's "Shvester," "Der shabes-goy," "Venus un Shulamis," and "Musr," and Peretz Hirschbein's "Oyfn shvel," "Funken" and "Agronomen."

Being dramatic director for five years in the "Mirth Colony" in new York and later four summers in Chicago's "Workmen's Circle" Camp, P. put on four large concerts with children and five with adults.

He also was regisseur for the "Frayhayt Dramatic Section," the nucleus of the permanent "Artef."

P. even staged in New York and in Chicago his own plays: "New Year," "Lialkes," "A fraylekher purim," "Yehuda Hamaccabi" (music by Leo Stein), ""Shir hashirim," "Ruth," "Rosh Hashana," "Uncle Sam" -- a masn-shpil, "Di naye tsayt" -- singing play, "Chone and his Seven Sons" -- a doll-play, "Di farblondzhshete" -- an operetta in two acts, "Hitler's khoylem" -- a grotesque-play in two acts, "Dos eybike likht" -- a singing play in one act, "Tsvishn hunger un toyt" -- pageant, as well as the dramatizations: "Khprus," "Bas kenig akhshurush" and "Motl peyses in amerike," according to Sholem Aleichem, "A klezmers toyt" in one act, according to I. L. Peretz, and "Sar bat tuvim" in three scenes, according to I. L. Peretz.

P.'s published plays and dramatizations:

[1] Sholem Aleichem, Khprus (Der hiner-shtreyk), dramatized by A. Pravatiner, [published in "Kinder zhurnal," N. Y., November 1924, pp. 11-18].

[1a] Sholem Aleichem, Der hiner-shtryk, dramatized by A. Pravatiner, Vilna, Publisher "Naye yidishe folkshul," 1928 [32, 29 pp.].

[1b] Der hiner-shtryk, by Sholem Aleichem, dramatized by A. Pravatiner, in 1 act with a prologue and epilogue. [published in the book "Yom-tov-piesn" by A. Pravatiner. Publisher "Arbeter-velt," Chicago, 1943, pp. 121-136.

[2] Bam kinig akhshurush, a Purim-play in two scenes with a prologue, by Sholem Aleichem, dramatized by A. Pravatiner, [published in "Kinder zurnal," N. Y., February 1930, pp. 2-7].

[3] A. Pravatiner, Lialkes, (a Purim-play in one act with a forshpil.) [published in "Kinder zhurnal," N. Y., February 1934, pp. 1-4.]

[3a] Lialkes, [published in the book "Tsvey Purim-shpiln," Chicago, 1938, Publisher M. Tseshinsky, pp. 3-12].

[3b] A. Pravatiner, Lialkes, a Purim-shpil in 1 act, [published in the book "Yom-tov-piesn," Publisher "Arbeter-velt," Chicago, 1943, pp. 35-46].

[4] A. Pravatiner, Nay-Yor, a fantastical play (in one act), [published in "Kinder-zhurnal," N. Y., Aug.-Sep. 1934, pp. 13-16].

[4a] A. Pravatiner, Rosh Hashana [Nay-Yor], a fantastical play in 1 act, [published in the book "Yom-Tov-piesn," Publisher "Arbeter-velt," Chicago, 1943, pp. 109-119].

[5] A freylekher Purim, a comedy i one act, [published in "Kinder-zhurnal," N. Y., February 1936, pp. 1-5].

[5a] A freylekher Purim, [published in the book "Tsvey Purim-shpiln," Chicago, 1938, Publisher M. Tseshinsky, pp. 13-24].

[6] A. Pravantiner, Yehuda Hamaccabi, a historical operetta in three acts by A. Pravantiner, music by Leo Stein, Publisher M. Tseshinsky, Chicago, 1939, [24 pp.]

[6a] A. Pravantiner, Yehuda Hamaccabi, a historical operetta in 3 acts, [published in the book "Yom-tov-piesn," Publisher "Arbeter-velt," Chicago, 1943, pp. 9-33].

[7] A. Pravantiner, Shlomo and Shulamis (Shir Hashirim), a historical song-play in 3 acts and 4 scenes, [published in ghe book "Yom-tov-piesn," pp. 47-77].

[8] A. Pravantiner, Ruth, a biblical song-play in three acts and four scenes ["Yom-tov-piesn", pp. 79-108].


Sh. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 1867.

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