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Eleemosynary: Where intellect and emotions collide

Eleemosynary was written by American playwright, Lee Blessing. The play premiered in 1985 and ran through to 1989, closing with a three-week run at the Manhattan Theater Club. Now, in 2017, Eleemosynary has come to Rollins College as a part of The Second Stage Series, produced by Rollins Players and completely directed, designed, marketed, and performed by Rollins students.

Directed by Kaitlyn Harrington ’18, Eleemosynary follows the story of three generations of women in the Wesbrook family: Dorothea, Artemis, and Echo. Each of these women are blessed by extraordinary intellectual ability, but plagued by the inability to connect with one another.

Dorothea Wesbrook, played by Leah Thomas ’21, is a woman of interesting means and eccentric quality, valuing education above all else. She is the mother of Artemis, also known as Artie, and the grandmother of Echo, Artie’s daughter. Artie Wesbrook, played by Annabelle Cuitino ’20, is a successful scientist haunted by her eidetic memory and constantly struggling to communicate with her daughter, Echo Wesbrook, while also coping with her complicated relationship with her own mother. Echo Wesbrook, played by Charlotte Atlee ’18, is a terribly bright young girl who lives with Dorothea, caring for her after she suffers a stroke. Echo yearns endlessly for a relationship with her mother. The only way that Artie and Echo connect is through practicing for the National Spelling Bee; but rather than bridging their relationship, these moments create a road block.

The story of the Wesbrook women is told through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, set in 1985 and before. Staying true to the original production, Eleemosynary has a minimalistic set consisting of a three-platform stage and three chairs – one for each character in the play. The narrative is motivated through the lighting, guiding the audience through the memories of the characters as each individual narrative is woven together to tell the overall story of the Wesbrook women. This is accompanied by music composed by Ellie Flaumenhaft ’18, making Eleemosynary the first Fred Stone Theatre production to feature an original score composed by a Rollins College student. These elements combined with costume and makeup designed by Maria Salamanca ’19 create a truly artful production. With the help of her production team, stage manager, and dramaturg Addison Cursey ’20, Harrington brings to life the painful experiences of these women; the audience bearing witness as these women struggle with their identities, all the while facing the pressure of intellect and struggling to articulate even the most basic emotions to one another. Yet through their pain, they persevere, and over time each of the Wesbrook women learn what it truly means to be eleemosynary.

Performances of Eleemosynary are held at the Fred Stone Theatre and are completely free to both students and the general public. The show opens Oct. 25 and will be showing through to Oct. 28 at 8pm, with an additional 2pm showing on Oct. 28.

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