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Yiddish Theatre’s 1st American Home

199-201 Bowery

 
 
Yiddish Theatre’s 1st American Home Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 19, 2016
1. Yiddish Theatre’s 1st American Home Marker
Inscription.  You are standing at the former site of People’s Theatre, one of a dozen Bowery theatres that comprised the Yiddish theatre’s first American home. In its heyday (1880-1914), thousands of Jewish immigrants came here to escape poverty, tedium and despair and immerse themselves in the comedy, tragedy and spectacle unfolding onstage.

By 1891, playwright Jacob Gordin had shifted Yiddish Theatre from trashy entertainments into original literary dramas and adaptions of classics including works by Ibsen, Tolstoy and Shakespeare featuring superstars Jacob Adler and Boris Thomashefsky. Adler moved audiences to sobs and cheers with interpretations of Shylock and Lear. Thomashefsky’s Hamlet brought audiences to their feet with calls of “Author! Author!” to which he pleaded forgiveness since “Shekspir lives far away in England and could not come.”

After WWI, Yiddish theatre’s base moved from Bowery to Second Avenue between Houston and 14th Street – a stretch celebrated until the 1940s as the “Yiddish Rialto.”

- Joyce Mendelsohn, author of The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited

People's Theatre Marker site image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 20, 2016
2. People's Theatre Marker site
199-201 Bowery, 2016

 
Erected 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
 
Location. 40° 43.267′ N, 73° 59.611′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Bowery near Spring Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 199-201 Bowery, New York NY 10012, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Birthplace Of Vaudeville? (here, next to this marker); “Big Tim” Sullivan’s Clubhouse (a few steps from this marker); Longest-Running Catalogue In America (within shouting distance of this marker); Christians, Cops, Elks & Anarchism (within shouting distance of this marker); From Making Money To Making Art (within shouting distance of this marker); 200 Years & Counting (within shouting distance of this marker); Home Of Photographer Robert Frank (within shouting distance of this marker); Italian Renaissance Palazzo On Bowery (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
More about this marker. One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
 
Categories. Entertainment
 
Inset - People's Theatre image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 19, 2016
3. Inset - People's Theatre
Note: The original 1858 structure was a German concert hall, became an incubator for vaudeville (Tony Pastor’s Opera House, 1865-1875) and in the 1880/90s, featured serious plays and everything from magician Herrmann the Great to boxing legend John L. Sullivan. A strike here during an 1899 Yiddish production spawned the Hebrew Actors’ Union, the first actors’ union in America. Following its Yiddish theatre years (1901-1934), people’s ended its days as a burlesque house.
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 19, 2016
4. Inset
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, April 30, 2019
5. Inset
Actors Sara Adler, Bessie Thomashefsky, Bertha Kalich, Boris Thomashefsky, Jacob Adler
Jacob and Sara Adler were the parents of actors/drama coaches Luther and Stella Adler.
 

More. Search the internet for Yiddish Theatre’s 1st American Home.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 7, 2019. This page originally submitted on May 7, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 49 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 7, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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