An anthology of five Yiddish plays in translation—all written by well-known playwrights in the first quarter of the twentieth century—God, Man, and Devil also includes two independent scenes, which in Nahma Sandrow’s words, “show off the raucous characteristic of Yiddish theater, especially in popular performance.”
The settings of the plays range widely—a luxurious parlor, a haunted graveyard, a farmyard, a sweatshop on strike, a subway, and the boardwalk of Atlantic City. They are both comic and mournful, and reflect expressionism, satire, fantasy, farce, suspense, and romance. But all consider the same question: what makes life morally good and worth living?
Before the modern Yiddish secular culture evolved as we know it today, Yiddish plays were being written for about a century. As Yiddish-speaking communities flourished, so did their love for theater. “Yiddish playwrights shared their experiences and made them art.” Edited to make them more accessible for both reading and performance,
each play is accompanied by an introduction, which provides historical context, production histories, and elucidation of references.
Introduction: "Yiddish Drama in the Yiddish World"
God, Man, and Devil (1900), Jacob Gordin
Green Fields (1916), Peretz Hirschbein
Shop (1926), H. Leivick
The Treasure (1906), David Pinski
Bronx Express: A Dream in Three Acts with a Prologue and Epilogue (1919-1926), Osip Dymov
Appendixes: Yiddish Plays in English Translation
A. Scene from Messiah in America by Isaac Moishe Nadir (1919)
B. Scene from Yank! the Blacksmith by David Pinski (1906)
Yiddish Plays Available in English Translation
Nahma Sandrow, professor of English at Bronx Community College CUNY, wrote the books for two award-winning musicals, Vagabond Stars and Kunileml, each based on Yiddish theater material.
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