MOBY presents “Eleemosynary”

By Gus Bode

“We all try to be the best we can be and we never come close.”

Hidden beneath a big word that most people have never heard of, more or less know how to pronounce, “Eleemosynary” is a story of three generations of women who don’t experience losing love but instead suffer from a loss of it.


“Eleemosynary,” a word meaning “charitable,” follows the lives of a grandmother, Dorothea, her daughter, Artie (or, Artimus) and Echo, Artie’s daughter. As time shifts and intertwines, the stories of these three women and their relationships with each other are told.

Playing at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center, located at 800 Tower Square Plaza in Marion. For more information, visit or call the Center at 618-997-4030. Tickets are $10.

Along the way, each of them loses something and struggles to get it back. Dorothea, played by Pandora Taylor, struggles with losing her sanity. With Artie, played by Rita Pierce, it’s her confidence as a mother after losing a husband. For Echo, Heather Barnett’s character, it’s her mother, and both her and Artie struggle to deal with the pain it has caused them. While Artie spends most of her life running away, she is finally confronted in the end and forced to realize just how much pain she has caused her own daughter.

“It’s written better than any script I’ve ever worked on,” Pierce said. “In seven scenes, Lee Blessing has developed the most complex characters that I’ve ever worked with. There’s not a throwaway line. His understanding of women’s emotions is extraordinary.”

“Eleemosynary” is not a very common play, Barnett said, and that was one of the reasons for choosing to perform it. During her search for another play after an audition where only a few women showed up, Barnett came across “Eleemosynary” a couple of times but disregarded the long name.


Eventually, after seeing it enough, it sparked her curiosity, and Barnett ordered the script. Reading through it almost brought Barnett to tears, she said, and the group decided this was the right play.

“I fell in love with it from the beginning,” Taylor said. “It’s the dynamics that occur between women, events that shape our lives.”

After building a set out of LEGOs to practice their movements, the trio began practicing out of Taylor’s garage. Only earlier this week did the group get access to the Marion Cultural and Civic Center to build a set and align the lighting.

The set building didn’t take long, however. Consisting of only a couple dozen books, a few black wooden platforms, six white column walls and a pair of wings, the set leaves all of the focus on the characters. Using the small amount of props forces the actors to work harder to portray actions and emotions to an audience, Pierce said, and has proven to be difficult.

While the play does follow the lives and emotions of women, it is not just a “woman’s play.”

“When it’s over, people are going to feel like they’ve experienced the lives of the people on stage,” Pierce said. “It’s very thought provoking. As people watch this, they’re going to be drawn in, thinking about [their] own relationships.”