About Etty Project

The sky is full of birds, the purple lupins stand up so regally and peacefully, two little old women have sat down on the box for a chat, the sun is shining on my face — and right before our eyes, mass murder. The whole thing is simply beyond comprehension.

— Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries, 1941-1943; and Letters from Westerbork

The roots of Etty Project lie in the diaries of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish Dutch student living and writing in occupied Amsterdam in 1942. Etty committed herself to rooting out her own hatred as the next step in building a better world, a choice that inspired Susan Stein to write the one-woman play, Etty. With help from director, Austin Pendleton, Susan began performing Etty, first in living rooms and museums then in theaters, universities, schools, prisons, and houses of worship throughout the United States and Europe.

Etty Project expanded to include educational programming that connects today’s youth with other young people in history. Etty Project helps recover lost voices from the diaries, narratives, and songs from the Holocaust, American slavery and civil rights, Japanese concentration camps, the Rwandan genocide, and Sudanese civil war, with the aim of building bridges between people from diverse histories, sensibilities, and circumstances. Participants bear witness to those who have come before, faced injustice, and resisted racism. Etty Project stretches boundaries, bringing live theater to underserved communities, creating theater in non-traditional spaces with those who have never imagined performing, and treating primary source documents as living texts.

Over 65,000 people have attended an Etty performance; more than 5000 students have participated in Etty Project classes, and over 200 teachers have attended professional development workshops run by Etty Project teaching artists. Susan Stein has presented at universities and more than a dozen conferences, including the International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem, the International Teachers Conference.

The People of Etty Project

Susan Stein

Studio portrait of Susan Stein.

Susan Stein is the founder of Etty Project, actor, playwright, and teaching artist. She has spent the past eleven years touring her original, one-woman play, Etty , to major theaters, universities, schools, prisons around the country and internationally and leading accompanying educational workshops.

Venues where Stein has performed Etty include: 59e59 Theaters, NYC; Next Theater, Chicago; Kravis Center, North Wall, Oxford, UK; Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland; Philly Fringe Festival; Bowery Poetry Club; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Fort Monmouth Army Base, NJ; The Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC; Smith College;  Anne Frank Center, USA and UK; the Etty Hillesum Centre in Deventer, The Netherlands; and the University of Ghent, Belgium.

Stein co-teaches Performing History at Duquesne University as part of the Inside/Outside Prison Exchange Program and has been an Artist/Scholar in residence at Cambridge University, Duquesne, Boston College, Vanderbilt, and Chapman University. Stein’s acting work includes Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound, Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline, Meridith Friedman’s The Luckiest People, and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. Stein leads workshops in playwriting, writing and acting throughout the US and UK. Stein studied acting at NYU Graduate School and SUNY Purchase and received a Master’s in Writing at Wesleyan University. She taught at Princeton Day School for thirteen years.

Austin Pendleton

Studio portrait of Austin Pendleton.

Austin Pendleton has been involved with Etty Project since its earliest days. He helped adapt the script as well as direct the play itself. He is often part of the second act discussion.

Pendleton has an extensive career as a film, television, and stage actor, a playwright, theater director, and teacher. He has worked extensively on and off Broadway and is a Tony Award nominee, recipient of Drama Desk and Obie Awards, Screen Actors Guild award winner, and ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company. He wrote Orson’s Shadow, Uncle Bob, and Booth, the adaptation for A Minister’s Wife. Recent acting work includes the Broadway production of Tracy Letts’s The Minutes.  Recent directing credits: Between Riverside and Crazy at the Atlantic Theater Company; Three Sisters, and Uncle Vanya at Classic Stage Company. He has made more than 100 film and television appearances.

Kate Winton

Studio portrait of Kate Winton.

Kate Winton is the Education Director of Etty Project and has been involved with the project since its earliest days.

A master teacher and curriculum developer, Winton creates lessons and study guides for students from early adolescence through adulthood. Committed to arts education, she worked extensively with the Lincoln Center Program for Arts Education in New York City and McCarter Theatre's YouthInk program. She taught for thirty years at Princeton Day School, The Northwest School, WA, and Taipei American School, Taiwan. She has a BA from Princeton University and a Masters of Arts in Writing from Teachers College Columbia University.

Ricardo Barros

Studio portrait of Ricardo Barros.

Ricardo Barros became involved in Etty Project following a reading of the play and began photographing performances of Etty and workshops in schools and prisons.

Barros is a professional photographer and videographer with commercial and fine art clients throughout the United States.  He has exhibited in Brazil, China, and Romania, and his work is in the permanent collection of eleven museums, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum, The DeCordova Museum, Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was awarded a Fellowship in Photography by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in 1984 and 2021.


Carnegie Stage Donors Sigal Family Fund Elizabeth Chase Foundation Susan Goldscheid and Marc McGarry Abbe and Gary Zarkin