Thursday 12 October 2017


MARK MEYERSON (1860-May 24, 1928)

            He was dramatist and actor, born in Odessa, Ukraine. His acting career began at age sixteen with a Russian troupe under the leadership of N. K. Miloslavsky. When Avrom Goldfaden in 1879 came to Odessa with his newly created theater, Meyerson joined the troupe and acted on the Yiddish stage until the 1883 edict banning Yiddish theater in Russia. Thereafter, over the course of twenty-six years, he worked as a director and actor on the Russian stage, before returning to the Yiddish theater. At the invitation of Yankev Adler, he came to the United States where his guest roles had great success. Returning to Russia, he proceeded to translate, adapt, and stage the works of the classic European repertoire (Shakespeare, Schiller, and the like) as well as modern Yiddish writers (Perets, Nomberg, Asch, Hirshbeyn, and others). In 1919 he acted in the theater Art Corner in Kiev. On May 5, 1926 the fiftieth anniversary of Meyerson’s work in the theater was celebrated. He also composed poetry, monologues, stories, and theatrical works. He authored the plays: Der hamer fun lebn (The hammer of life); Sdom un amore (Sodom and Gomorrah); Der katorzhnik (The convict); Tsvey tates (Two fathers); A korbn far a korbn (A victim for a victim); Di akhsanye mit di kales (The inn with the brides), and Ot dos heyst a vaybele (That’s what’s called a wife)—all staged by him. He also translated and adapted for the Yiddish stage: Freylikhe yungen (Happy youths), Frish (Fresh), Gezunt un meshuge (Healthy and crazy), Tsu dem altn got (To the old God), Luftike neshomes (Nimble souls), Der gehenem (Hell), and Shmuel hagodl (Samuel the great), among others. In the Lipovski archive at YIVO may be found his manuscript: “Der zinger oys palermo” (The singer from Palermo), a comic opera in three acts. In book form: Der hamer fun lebn, a play in four acts (Vilna: Z. Sh. Shreberk, 1909), 52 pp., and he excelled in the dramas staged by Yankev Gordin, especially in the role he made famous of “the wild man.” 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), with a detailed biography.

Yankev Kahan

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 240.]

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