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Irene Lewisohn

Irene Lewsohn co–founded the Neighborhood Playhouse, known for producing experimental plays by writers like James Joyce and Sholem Asch. The child of a wealthy industrialist family, Lewisohn gave back to the community by teaching theater and dance at the Henry Street Settlement. There, she and her sister Alice organized a theater and dance troupe that became the Neighborhood Players in 1912, and bought a playhouse for the troupe in 1914. By 1920 it had become a professional company that put on shows like the classic Yiddish play The Dybbuk, Walt Whitman’s Salut Au Monde, and the Hindu drama The Little Clay Cart. When the playhouse closed in 1927, Lewisohn co–founded the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in 1928, creating pantomime plays with full orchestral scores, and performed in venues like the Manhattan Opera House. Just as she had used dance, music, and theater to help the poor through the Settlement House, Lewisohn volunteered her efforts towards the Stage Door Canteen and the Club for Merchant Seamen during WWII to entertain the troops.

Date of Birth
September 5, 1892
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
April 4, 1944

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Irene Lewisohn." (Viewed on December 17, 2018) <>.


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