"Eleemosynary’ spells out the meaning of forgiveness | SummitDaily.com

"Eleemosynary’ spells out the meaning of forgiveness

Kimberly Nicoletti

DILLON – Most people can’t spell “eleemosynary,” much less define it, but in their heart they know what it means.

Eleemosynary is 16-year-old Echo’s (played by Teri Swartz) favorite word.

She can articulate, spell and define it, along with every other word in the dictionary, but she hasn’t quite learned its true meaning.

Echo is a precocious child who was raised in the Westbrook family, where being extraordinary has turned into a disease much like alcoholism, tearing families apart. She takes refuge in her amazing ability to spell anything, believing winning the national spelling bee will reunite her estranged family.

Her mother, Artie (Kathleen Trambley) left the family to pursue a career in research. Though all Westbrook women rely on intellect to deal with life’s challenges, Artie and her mother, Dorothea, (Suzanne Pedersen) have very different approaches.

While Artie takes a practical, scientific approach to life, Dorothea is the most-notable eccentric of her time. In fact, eccentricity saved Dorothea’s life, allowing her to escape a mundane family life.

“”Eleemosynary’ is a story of three generations of fiercely intelligent women who are very unique and individual and share a common burden of (thinking they must) do something extraordinary,” Director Chris Willard said. “Eleemosynary’ means the giving of alms, being charitable. (The play is about) how they learn to be charitable toward each other.”

The story of the three women’s lives unfolds as each character re-enacts key memories, spanning from 1958 to 1985. Echo begins the play, alluding to the importance of the women learning about eleemosynary not only intellectually, but also emotionally, when she says, “It’s our word now. We’re responsible.”

As each character portrays important scenes in her life through her own viewpoint, viewers come to know, and empathize with, the struggles and strengths of the individual.

“The problems they’re going through are applicable to any woman, or any person,” Willard said. “It’s the problem of relating and being emotionally accessible, how they learn to make that first step. The image of flight is used throughout the show, taking a leap of faith and trusting there will be an updraft – having faith that you’ll fly. These are issues that people have in dealing with each other. It just happens to be funneled through the perception of women. This show is so layered. It’s a very funny play and a very touching play.”

The colorful characters take flight at 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. every Sunday, beginning Aug. 23 and running through Sept. 22 at the Lake Dillon Theatre. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12. For more information, call (970) 513-9386.

Community First Bank and Borders Book Stores are sponsoring the play.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


– When: 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23 through Sept. 21; 3 p.m. every Sunday, Aug. 25 through Sept. 22

– Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, Dillon

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