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"Ararat" Theatre in Łódź

Jewish community before 1989 – Education and culture
Polska / łódzkie


The "Ararat" Jewish Kleinkunst Theatre of Łódź emerged in 1927 from an actors' studio that had previously operated in Łódź. It was a continuation of the Azazel Theatre to a certain extent. The theatre was established by a Jewish poet, Moishe Broderzon, and his friends. Broderzon himself wrote most texts, but the theatre drew also on the work of other writers, including Abraham Goldfaden, Icchok Leybush Perets or Yosef Tunkel. Chone Shmeruk, a prominent expert in Yiddish literature, emphasised that the character of the theatre was typical of Łódź, not only due to the composition of its management and team. Its repertoire was dominated by pieces that had something characteristic of the city about them. The theatre group gave performances in a variety of Yiddish specific to Łódź, a peculiarity that was given much prominence.

Broderzon employed mainly amateurs who appeared talented to him. His biggest discovery was the famous comic duo: Dzigan and  Shumacher. The Ararat Theatre was also a springboard for the careers of Szmulik Goldsztejn, a comedian, Menuche Bernholc, an actress later known as Mina Bern, Iza Harari, a dancer, and Judit Berg, a choreographer. The theatre collaborated with such outstanding musicians as Henoch Kon or Henryk Jablon.

The programme of the first performance held on 25 October 1927 in a building on Zachodnia Street included a mix of sketches, songs and recitation. It was a huge success. The theatre staged its performances in various places in Łódź, including cafés. The sketches of Shimon Dzigan and Israel Shumacher attracted the most attention for a long time. The comedians commented on the changing situation of Polish Jews on the eve of the Second World War. Fierce competition between artists and financial problems gradually led to the decline of the theatre. In the mid-1930s, Dzigan and Shumacher moved to Warsaw, where they performed in the "Nowości" Theatre. Nevertheless, the "Ararat" Theatre continued to stage performances with ever new actors. In 1935 it started to make guest appearances in theatres of Western Europe, including Brussels, Paris, Antwerp and London.

In 1937 the whole theatre group, together with Dzigan and Shumacher, appeared in a film entitled Di Freylekhe Kaptsonim (The Happy Paupers in Yiddish) based on a screeplay written by Moishe Broderzon.

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