BARBARA COLTON

JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 2014 Graduate School application


Welcome to my website & the story of my career as an actor, elected leader of Actors' Equity Association, teacher, arts administrator, & progressive polit- ical activist, as well as my quest for Jewish identity.  Although there is no focus here on my childhood, the indeli- ble influence of my 14 years at Camp Wahanda cannot be overestimated.  It’s there I developed the character traits & learned the values that guide my life to this day.  Wahanda nurtured my talent & set me on my career path.  Wahanda was my "family" & created a lifetime of priceless memories. 



Therefor, I must pay tribute to the two great women who were my 

earliest role models & mentors. Gladys Jacobson Brandstein was 

one of the first women to graduate from NYU Law School. She 

devoted herself to civil rights cases & programs to alleviate 

poverty. Together with her husband, Dr. Philip Brandstein, she was 

the owner of Camps Wahanda for girls & Wabigoon for boys.

I was 6 years old when I went to camp for the first time. The tallest 

woman I’d ever seen, wore a silver whistle that swung from a chain 

on her neck, as she walked back & forth through our train car. I was 

absolutely sure she was a giant!  Millie was our Head Counselor & a 

renaissance woman. She was an all around athlete & an extraordin- 

ary wordsmith. She wrote lyrics for scores of songs, still sung by 

hundreds of voices, everlastingly "Brings us memories of you 

[Wahanda], Thoughts of friendship made so true".  She was an ar-

dent theatre-buff, & my first director for my appearance in numer- 

ous productions including Mrs. Mullins in Carousel & Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Unless otherwise noted, all pages are organized chronologically.  "Photo" Pages include 
production photos, which are organized alphabetically by play title. 

"Press" Pages include newspaper reviews of my performances as well as published photos & pro-
motional material (posters & playbills). These pages are also organized alphabetically by play
title. At the bottom of the last Press Page there is a small section of notes from colleagues 
& producers. 


"AEA" (Actors' Equity Association) Pages document my 24 years in the elected leadership of the 

union; including programs I created & administered as well as my election history. Individual 

AEA pages are dedicated to each of (what I consider) my major accomplishments on behalf of pro-

fessional actors: organizing new jurisdictions of employment, (most noteably,  Children's Theatre) 

& serving as Chief Negotiator for the first 19 years of the contract, initiating an ongoing program of

membership education, & creating the Showcase Code with it's essential Subsidiary Rights clause. 


The Activism pages recount my (non-theatre related) volunteer activities & the various social

causes I’ve supported throughout my life.


Here too is the story of my Jewish journey. Although I was raised in an unobservant, totally 
secular Jewish household (complete with Christmas tree) even as a child, I was always asking
(unanswered) questions about what it meant to be Jewish. The Shoah had an overwhelming 
influence on my consciousness. My relationship with a miraculous family who survived the 
Warsaw ghetto instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility for study & personal observance. 
During my college years, I volunteered at the Kennedy Memorial Hospital (Brighton MA.) a 
residential hospital for children, run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. My friendship with 
one of the nuns had a profound impact on my need to answer all my childhood questions. As an 
adult, I joined a Reform synagogue & soon discovered that all my activist instincts, demonstrat-
ing for civil rights, fighting for organized labor, opposing the war in Viet Nam, etc. reflected 
basic Jewish values. I progressed through 4 other congregations, becoming more ritually obser-
vant with each. I taught myself to read Hebrew, even to leyn Torah, & I devoured History, 
Theology & Ethics. I became an adult bat mitzvah & finally, secured an opportunity for formal 
world class educational advancement with a scholarship to study Ethics at the Graduate School 
of the Jewish Theological Seminary. 

The more I've learned, the more there is to learn & I feel I'm always engaged in a gigantic 
game of catch-up. In fact, all my choices in life regarding my career, relationships, & advocacy 
are rooted in, & nurtured by, Jewish teaching & my identity as a member of the community.



HEADSHOT HISTORY

1960
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985


Created by Barbara Colton