TSEN YOR ARTEF: AROYSGEGEBN TSUM TSEN-YORIKN YUBILEY FUN ARTEF
New York; Posy-Shoulson Press, 1937. Item #30507
(FT) Suede wraps. 4to. , 171, , 23 pages. 28 cm. First edition. In Yiddish and English. Added title-page: Ten years Artef; published for the tenth anniversary of the Artef, March, 1937. Extensively illustrated publication for the tenth year anniversary of the radical Yiddish theatre company: “Artef, the radical Yiddish dramatic troupe based in New York during the heyday of the Yiddish theater in America. Begun in the mid-1920s as a study group of amateur worker-actors (at one time there were nine separate studios with over 120 students) , in the 1930s the troupe went professional, putting on at least two and often three new plays per season. With such plays as Jacob Mostel's Strike, Shmuel Godiner's Jim Kooperkop, Avrum Vevioka's Diamonds, and Maxim Gorky's Egor Bulychev and Dostigaev and Others, Artef spread propaganda to the masses. … Ideologically Artef was far left; its hope was a Communist society here in America. As a troupe, its role was ‘agit-prop, ’ to agitate and propagandize, to serve as the cultural representative of radical workers. In fact, most of its tickets were pre-sold through worker unions and, at least in its early years, Artef gave presentations at political events. Its first large-scale production was Mass Play and Ballet of the Russian Revolution, which appeared at the Lenin memorial celebration in Madison Square Garden on January 21, 1928. … Artef's greatest artistic and commercial successes were connected with the talented productions of director Benno Schneider. Schneider, who had been active in the Zionist Habima troupe in Moscow, wed aesthetic excellence to revolutionary ideology with his interpretation of Aristocrats, an adaptation of Sholem Aleichem's Mentshn. Incidentally, Schneider earned such a positive reputation with Artef that he received offers to direct on Broadway, a promotion that cost the radical Yiddish theater dearly. The end of the Artef was gradual, and its causes were closely associated with the reduced role of Yiddish in American life. But there were bright lights before the darkness. During the ‘days of the Popular Front, ’ when the Communists formed associations with less radical leftist parties, the Artef attracted a larger audience, which led to an optimistic expansion that later was responsible for huge financial losses. The darkness occurred at the end of the thirties, when the number of Yiddish speakers began to diminish. The last performance of the Artef was on July 7, 1941. (Review by Dr. Brian Horowitz of “Yiddish Proletarian Theatre: The Art and Politics of the Artef, 1925–1940” written by Edna Nahshon) . Many of the actors and directors in Artef went on to establish solid careers on Broadway, Hollywood, and for those blacklisted, overseas. Subjects: Arbeiter theatre verband, New York. Jewish theater. Theater - New York (State) - New York. Artef - Anniversaries, etc. OCLC lists 29 copies worldwide. With previous owners bookstamp on endpage; that of Wolf Mercur, a playwright, actor, and director in Yiddish films and on Broadway. Very clean and fresh. Very good condition. (ART-18-15).