The “Kraków Jewish Theatre” Association (Gezelshaft “Krokever Yiddish Teater”) operated in Kraków in the years 1926–1939.

In 1926 Jewish artists and social activists having links with Kraków, including Wilhelm Aleksandrowicz, Leon Feiner, Maurycy Fischer, Fryderyk Freund, Maurycy Grünberg, Izaak Halpern, Ber Horowitz, Mojżesz Kanfer, Jakub Pancer, Marian Rozmaryn, Abraham Seinfeld and Szloma Wellner, took the initiative to establish the Theatre Committee. Their aim was to create a permanent Jewish theatre in Kraków. The first step was to officially register the “Kraków Jewish Theatre” Association. They managed to obtain an exclusive licence for running a permanent Jewish theatre in a hall leased out by the Association of Affordable Israelite Houses at 7 Bocheńska Street.

The aim of the association was to create a permanent modern Jewish theatre as an element of new Jewish culture. Its activists strove to build their own theatre building that could be a place gathering Jewish artists. Their efforts were facilitated by the existence of a large community of Jews in Kraków (about 50,000 Jews in 1927 and over 70,000 in 1939) with significant representation of intelligentsia, as well as by the high cultural level of Kraków in general. What constituted a hindrance, however, was a powerful group of advocates of the traditional religious Jewish culture, as well as a considerable number of assimilated Jews, who frequented Polish theatres and ignored “jargon” performances staged in the Jewish district. Moreover, subsidies granted by the City Council were too low.

The association was headed by Fryderyk Freund in the years 1927–1935 and by Mojżesz Kanfer after 1935. Its most active members were Rudolf Beres, J. Blum, Mordechaj Gebirtig, Ch. Honig, Henryk Leser, Henryk Silberstein, M. Sternfeld and Eliasz Tisch. In 1927, it had 37 founding members and 12 associate members (the number of ordinary members is unknown); 170 ordinary members, 50 founding members and 20 associate members in the season 1931/32, and over 400 members in 1938.

In the autumn of 1926, the association established the Kraków Jewish Theatre (Krokever Yiddish Teater) and appointed Jonasz Turkow as its artistic director. The society provided for its own theatre groups directed by Jonasz Turkow and Abraham Morewski. Drama, operetta, cabaret and revue groups from others cities, as well as itinerant troupes, were invited to give guest performances and provided financial and artistic support in return. In the 1930s the association ran a drama studio which functioned as a drama school and an experimental theatre directed by M. Katz (first performances in 1935) as well as the Drama Group since 1936. On 1 March 1927, the first issue of a bilingual magazine, Wiadomości Teatralne – Teater Yediyes (Theatre News) was published. The association also organised promotional events (The Promotion Month of the Jewish Theatre), lectures, jubilee academies, author’s evenings, discussions and meetings of actors with the audience, usually in the theatre on Bocheńska Street, in Sala Śląska (6 Św. Jana Street), in a hall leased out for that purpose at Grodzka Street and, from 22 March 1939, in its own premises at 9 Stolarska Street. The association cooperated (in organising conferences, meetings and events) with Jewish artistic organisations (e.g. the Alliance of Jewish Painters and Sculptors; Jewish Music Society); social, cultural, charity and youth organisations in Kraków, as well as Jewish theatre societies in Poland.

© The entry was written on the basis of information found on the PWN Publishing House website; see: The PWN Encyclopedia|http://encyklopedia.pwn.pl]], [[urle:Polish landuage dictionaries|http://sjp.pwn.pl]] i [[urle:Foreign language dictionaries.

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