What: “Eleemosynary” by Lee Blessing
Where: June M. McBroom Theatre, Community High School of Arts and Academics, 302 Campbell Ave. S.E., Roanoke
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and June 27-29
How much: $15, Thursdays $10, students $5
Info: 676-1415; email@example.com
In Lee Blessing’s play “Eleemosynary,” the character of Dorothea laments her estrangement from her daughter. “We all try to be just what the next one needs, and we never even come close.”
Gamut Theatre will bring this one-act play about three generations of fiercely intelligent and emotionally troubled women to the June M. McBroom Theatre at Community High School starting Thursday.
Emma Sala, 17, daughter of Mill Mountain Theatre veteran Ed Sala, plays Echo, a contender for the national spelling bee championship. Actress and Roanoke Children’s Theatre development director Amanda Mansfield plays Artie, Echo’s scientist mother, who abandoned her daughter while she was still an infant.
Echo is raised by Artie’s mother, Dorothea, played by Salem High School drama teacher Rachel Sailer. Dorothea wanted to go to college, but was married off instead, and chose to fight the restrictions placed on her because of her gender by embracing eccentricity and pseudoscience.
The play shifts back and forth in time in a manner that’s poetic and surreal. “It feels like the universe has a lot of sides, and they’re all in flux,” Mansfield said. “Emotionally, you’re just a raw nerve.”
Her husband, Michael Mansfield, is directing, marking the third time a Gamut play hasn’t been directed by Artistic Director Miriam Frazier.
Michael Mansfield said he had seen the play performed years ago and was impressed. It was a piece that “reminded me why I loved theater.” He suggested it to Gamut officials, and they enthusiastically agreed.