Activism


The Christmas shows which I had
produced & directed (in ‘58 & ‘59)
for the Boston University Chapter
of the National Theatre Honor
Society, generated several thank 
you notes from the children's 
hospitals group homes where 
we'd played.

After the Christmas Hols, 
I accepted this invitation from 
Mother Mary Francis & I re-
turned to the Kennedy Memorial 
Hospital as a volunteer where 
I continued until my graduation 
from B.U.




    



In the summer of 1963 I was play-ing at the Wayside Theatre in Middletown, VA., my 2nd season down south.  I became friends with 2 local high school girls who were waitresses at the Martha Wash- ington Inn where we ate all our   meals.  I invited them to my open-ing night performance of Moss Hart’s Light Up the Sky, using the complimentary tickets the pro- ducer gave each actor every week. During the interval,  he stormed backstage in a livid fury.  He screamed at me in an incoherent tirade how it was tradition for the local mayors to attend opening night performances & how they’d all been shocked & outraged to see Negroes in the theatre (the 2 teen- agers I’d invited).  He threatened me with the KKK &  delivered an ultimatum that he’d stop giving comps to actors if I persisted in using mine to invite Negroes.  I refused to agree & warned him that I would call Equity & file a complaint against him as a racist. The face-off only ended be- cause the curtain was about to go up for Act II. 

He never mentioned it again & the Klan never appeared.  Although I didn’t know it that night, those 2 brave teenagers were the 1st black people who had ever crossed the threshold of that theatre.  I did continue to invite them to all my performances & they continued to come.  And, by the end of the season, I was thrilled when I heard that people of color had begun to buy tickets at the box office.  The audience was, in fact, becoming integrated.  

I returned to N.Y.C. August 21st & immediately tried to get a seat on one of the Equity buses going to Washington for the March with Dr. Martin Luther King.  Although all the buses were sold out, Equity promised to rent an additional bus if I would take the re-sponsibility to sign up enough actors to fill all the seats.  I did fill the bus & so I was able to go on the March which remains one of the most significant & inspiring experiences of my entire life.


Edited from http://www.corenyc.org/7%20arts%20core.htm

THIS REALLY HAPPENED
In April, 2001, shortly after the election of Bush 43 (or as the late, great Molly Ivins called him, ‘the Shrub’I was on my way to N.Y.U. where I was then teaching at the American Language Institute.  A man was selling political para- phernalia on a street corner & as the bus rolled past, I caught sight of an "Impeach Bush" button. 
I called out to the driver, "Please stop! I have to buy something."  By then we were a block past the mer- chant & had stopped for a traffic light.  Hopelessly, I said, "A man is selling Impeach Bush buttons. I need to get one."  Miracle of mira-cles, the driver actually opened the door & let me out.  I ran the block back to the merchant & stood by as he finished a sale. I gave him $5.00 & waited for my change.   Hoping I wouldn’t have to wait too long for the next bus, I turned to look for the bus stop.  And, SHOCK!   My bus was waiting at the corner where I'd jumped off.   I raced back & breathlessly reboarded to a round of applause & cheers from the other passengers. 





Created by Barbara Colton