Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Dance; Theatre

First Advisor

Robin Carr

Advisor Department

Dance; Theatre


In this thesis, I will explain on paper my creative process of researching, rehearsing, and performing the role of Echo in Eleemosynary. Eleemosynary is a one-act play by playwright Lee Blessing about three women and how their lives intersect and affect each other. I played Echo, the youngest of the three; her mother is Artie and hergrandmother is Dorothea. The play takes place in 1985 and is non-linear in structure. It alternates between scenes in the present in which the characters are speaking directly to the audience, and scenes in various points of the past. Echo is raised almost entirely by Dorothea and so she has a strained relationship with her mother, Artie. After Dorothea dies, Echo is forced to reconcile her feelings about Artie and their relationship. The set and costumes in our production (and presumably most others) were extremely simplistic in order to reflect the simplistic, non-linear nature of the play. This play is an exploration of strong women and how they can make a difference in their own lives and each othersʼ.

It may assist the reader in understanding my research and process to read a short plot summary. Dorothea is raised by loving and wealthy parents but is unsatisfied with being a quiet girl, so she chooses to become eccentric. She is forced into marriage out of high school and has three boys and one girl, Artemis. Artie dislikes her motherʼs eccentricity and thus rebels, running away several times throughout her adolescence. Eventually she obtains a graduate science degree and marries a man named Richard, with whom she has a daughter that she names Barbara. Richard dies shortly after the childʼs birth and so Dorothea comes to live with them, renaming Artieʼs daughter Echo. Artie becomes dissatisfied with her life after the death of her husband and the birth of her daughter, moving to Europe for a career in research and leaving Echo in the care of Dorothea. Eventually Artie returns to the United States but still refuses to care for her daughter, claiming that she is not fit for motherhood. Dorothea and Echo live quite happily together until Dorothea has a stroke, rendering her unable to speak or move and eventually causing her death. Artie returns to live with Echo after Dorotheaʼs stroke, and eventually they reconcile their differences and agree to live a life together as mother and daughter, carrying on Dorotheaʼs memory.