Wednesday 22 February 2017


FROYM LOYTER (1890-1963)
            He was born in Berdichev, Zhitomir district, Ukraine.  He graduated from a senior high school in Vilna, where he was a classmate of the poet Leyb Naydus.  His journalistic work began in the Russian-language Severo-zapadnii golos (Northwestern voice) in Vilna.  In Yiddish he penned theater reviews for Vilner vokhnblat (Vilna weekly newspaper), beginning to appear in 1906.  In 1911 he published the story “Di likht iz oysgegangen” (The light went out) in the Vilna almanac Knaspen (Buds).  In 1912 he published in Fraynd (Friend) in Warsaw a series of translations and reworked notes and legends (assembled by Nevelsky and by the Jewish historical-ethnographic society of Russia) on the role played by Jews in the war between Russian and Napoleonic forces.  He was close to the Zionist socialist party in Russia.  During WWI he was fully authorized by Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”) and directed the relief activities for homeless Jews in central Russia.  He was also active in the Yiddish school movement.  After the March Revolution (1917), he and the Russian poet Jurgis Baltrušaitis published in Moscow an almanac of Jewish literature in Russian.  Later in Kiev he published (using the pen name A. Yasni) articles in a variety of publications, as well as in Di naye tsayt (The new time), organ of the “Fareynikte” (United socialist party).  From 1919 he was principally active as a theatrical director and educator of young Jewish actors.  He contributed to the first Yiddish theatrical studio connected to the Kiev “Kultur-lige” (Culture league).  Over the years 1921-1923, he directed plays by Perets, Sholem-Aleykhem, and Hirshbeyn in the Kiev Jewish State Theater.  He directed a Yiddish theater studio in Baku, 1924-1925, with which he staged Yisroel Aksenfeld’s Di genarte velt (The cheated public).  Over the years 1926-1928, he directed at the Kharkov “Republican Yiddish Theater” stage work by Mendele, Goldfaden, Ash (Asch), and Soviet Yiddish dramatists.  He participated, 1919-1934, in the theater studio at the Moscow Yiddish State Theater, where (with Shloyme Mikhoels) he trained young actors.  At that time he also worked as a lecturer on theater and art at the Lunacharsky Institute in Moscow.  He ran the Yiddish theater in Odessa, 1935-1941.  He also directed a number of plays on the Russian and Ukrainian stage.  He later worked with the theater in Tajikistan, where he was evacuated in 1942.  After WWII (until 1948) he continued his work with the Yiddish theater in Odessa.  In 1960 a large work by him appeared in Russian, “The Word on the Stage” (in English translation), a collection of the theatrical opinions of the best Russian directors, playwrights, critics, and actors.  Together with the Russian writer V. Artsov, he translated into Russian Sholem-Aleykhem’s Dos groyse gevins (Hit the Jackpot).  In his final years, Loyter was active with Russian and Ukrainian theater.  He died in Kiev.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; A. Kahan, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (February 25, 1961); M. Vaykhert, Zikhroynes (Memoirs), vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1961), p. 297.

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