A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

Ida Kaminska, 1899-1980

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A program from a production of Homeless by Jacob Gordin directed by Ida Kaminska at the Warsaw Yiddish Art Theater. 
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Ida Kaminska, 1899-1980




Program from Teater "Metropolitain"


Although acting since she was a child, Ida Kaminska came of age as a director in interwar Poland. In 1918, she married the actor and director Zygmunt Turkow, a product of Polish theater schools.Together, they founded the VYKT (Varshever Yidisher Kunst Teater, Warsaw Yiddish Art Theater), which functioned on and off primarily during the 1920s. After her divorce from Turkow in 1932, she founded her own companies with which she continued to tour. The VYKT and its successors staged plays rooted in Jewish folk life, such as works by Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) and Sholem Asch (1880-1957), but their central mission was to bring world theater to their Jewish audiences. 

Kaminska played Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Grushenka in The Brothers Karamazov, and scores of roles in the works of writers such as Eliza Orzeszkowa (1841-1910), Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). As a young man, familiar only with Yiddish operettas, the Polish Jewish novelist Julian Strijkowski (1905-1996) saw Kaminska perform the role of an unrepentant revolutionary on her way to the gallows in Leonid Andreyev’s (1871-1919) The Seven Who Were Hanged. “For the first time,” he writes, “I saw a real actress in a real theater.”




YIVO Institute for Jewish Research


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“Ida Kaminska, 1899-1980,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed February 29, 2024, https://ataleoftwomuseums.yivo.org/items/show/2178.
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