Eleemosynary is a multi act play by Lee Blessing [1]. It follows the relationships between three generations of women. The word. The characters in the play are: [2].

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Lee Blessing has written a play about how feminist sensibilities need to resolve a search for independence and the pull of the intellect in a male-dominated world. Lee Blessing has written a play about the power of words to control life and the failure of words to replace feelings. To reinforce one of his points, he has called the play "Eleemosynary," which is a fancy way of saying forgiving or charitable. But, ultimately, Lee Blessing has defeated his own purposes with words, words, words.

Since Joe Brancato, the artistic director, can be counted on for offbeat, unheralded plays, it's no surprise to come upon "Eleemosynary" in the Penguin Repertory's 15th season.

During its three-week run at the Manhattan Theater Club in , the play won more attention as a vehicle for an esteemed actress, Eileen Heckart, in the role of Dorothea, the grandmother, than as an accomplished piece of playwriting.

Given Mr. Blessing's failure to sustain his play beyond a series of flashback, flash-forward narrations, it's all Mr. Brancato can do to have his three actresses circulating, reliving moments and keeping them from talking at the audience. With some grace, Mr. Brancato imposes a semblance of interaction upon a structurally faltering script. Denise Du Maurier avoides coyness as Dorothea Westbrook, who uses eccentricity as her passport through, and defense for, what her daughter perceives as a "big embarrassing life.

Dorothea has inflicted the intellectual life upon her daughter, who passes on the pressure to hers. Suffering from a stroke at the play's beginning, and then dying, Dorothea searches for "life after eternity. In an overly earnest performance, Ann Dowd cannot put compassion into the cranky role of Dorothea's daughter, Artie -- that's short for Artemis -- who lives in eight different cities just to escape from her mother, who is sure to wind up in one or another in pursuit of her.

Trapped by ambivalence toward everything, confessing to "intellectual child abuse" "I have trouble touching my daughter," she says, dealing with her only by telephone and eager to empty her mind -- she is plagued by a perfect memory -- Artie gives her daughter to Dorothea, and then to an unseen uncle after Dorothea's death.

Which leaves Artie's daughter, Echo; the name stands for the child's responsibility to reflect beauty, and she is the link between the estranged Artie and Dorothea. Thank Heather Gottlieb for minimizing the character's built-in capacity to irritate. With her "superhuman attention span," Echo is a national spelling bee champion, but don't forget that she also knows all about derivations and the earliest literary uses of all manner of arcane words. As if that weren't more than plenty, Echo, who took calculus at the age of 9, announces: "I know everything in the world.

Performances, which continue through May 31, are Thursday and Friday at P. Box office: Home Page World U.



It might be best to begin your approach to this play by learning how to pronounce the title and understanding the meaning of this vocabulary word. In this dramatic work by Lee Blessing , three generations of highly intelligent and freethinking women attempt to reconcile years of family dysfunction. Dorothea was a repressed housewife and mother of three sons and a daughter, Artemis Artie , whom she favored. She discovered that being an eccentric suited her perfectly and spent a lifetime thrusting her wild ideas and beliefs onto an unappreciative and doubting Artemis.


The PlayFinder™

Belhaven student, Eleanor Baxter, is directing her first play for a theatre production project, giving her valuable experience toward her career. Baxter will direct an inspirational play from American playwright Lee Blessing called Eleemosynary. This play presents the lives of the three women as they struggle to define themselves both as individuals and part of a family. It is a study of family relationships, and highlights the need for connection and forgiveness.


THEATER; 'Eleemosynary,' 3 Women and Power of Words



"Eleemosynary," A Full-Length Play by Lee Blessing


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