Edna Nahshon | Delivered in English.
The American Yiddish theater world was dynamic and bursting with talent. Supported by a constantly growing Yiddish-speaking immigrant population—some 3 million Jews settled in America between 1881 and 1925—it produced great stars, famous playwrights, a cadre of supporting actors, throngs of devoted fans and an array of supporting institutions as well as the world’s first theatrical labor union. We will review the American Yiddish theater’s formative years, its performance style, and the intense bond between auditorium and stage. We will also pay attention to the creative interaction between the American Yiddish theater and Yiddish theaters in Eastern Europe, and to the inter-relation between the American and English-language stage in the United States. Finally, we’ll discuss the reasons for the Yiddish theater’s decline in the post-World War II years, and the ongoing creative conversation with its legacy held by contemporary Jewish dramatists like Paula Vogel and Tony Kushner.
This lecture is part of YIVO’s Yiddish Civilization Lecture Series.