Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater

Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater, Syracuse University Press, 1996 (1st edition: Harper & Row, 1977, hard cover and paperback; 2nd edition: Applause Books, 1985).

Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater is the most thorough overview of Yiddish theater. The book describes the theater’s development in Europe and America from folk sources through early literary efforts, to the fine dramas, popular shows, glamorous stars and adoring fans of its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  It traces not only the destruction of Yiddish theater under Hitler and Stalin, but also its persistence all over the globe today.  The book places Yiddish theater in dual contexts: both Jewish history and the styles of other contemporaneous western theaters.  Sample scenes illustrate styles and periods; the book also provides a guide to transliteration and pronunciation, and many illustrations.

I recommend Vagabond Stars to all who are interested in Yiddish theater…an ocean of information.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer.

A very important book. It gave me a great deal of pleasure reading it, struggling with its ideas and my own roots.
-Joseph Papp, New York Times.

-New York Times.

An admirable feat of scholarship on a marvelous and-alas-vanishing world.  I know of no comparable work, so well written, in the field.
-Leo Rosten.

The best general history of Yiddish theater to appear in English, and is likely to remain definitive for a long time.
-Village Voice.

Useful for casual browsing as well as for serious study… of interest to both theater buffs and students of Yiddish culture.
-Washington Post.

[Z]est and energy…readable compendium punctuated by humor and insight…photos, posters, memorabilia.
-Publishers Weekly.

[G]loriously recreated the world of the Yiddish theater…well researched and scholarly, great warmth…humor and much that is touching – obviously a labor of love.
-Library Journal.

A vital reference work.
-Kirkus Reviews.

Listed in The Reader’s Catalogue and The Schocken Guide to Jewish Books.

Buy Vagabond Stars at or Barnes & Noble or Syracuse University Press.