Theatre 21 spells out “Eleemosynary”

Spelling bees and eccentric ideas collide in Theatre 21’s final production of the semester.

Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

(This story was originally published in print on Apr. 25, 2019).

Spelling bee contestants, research scientists and spiritualists may relate to a character or two in Theatre 21’s production of “Eleemosynary,” which means “charitable.” Highlighting the unique bonds between a grandmother, mother and daughter, the one-act play presents an honest, raw perspective of the complexities within maternal relationships.


For senior communications major Emily Reese Castro, stepping into directorship was not strange since she has worn several hats throughout her theater career. Now, with the opportunity to direct her first production, Castro saw student directing as a way to culminate her experiences as an actor, stage manager, marketer and prop master into one final hurrah at Biola.

“Being a part of theater at Biola has been so formative for me, so I wanted to take the lead and to do something where my creative vision could just shine through in a really big and powerful way,” Castro said.

Impressed by the fresh take on relationship complexities, Castro also appreciated the story’s emphasis on brilliance in women. Through the unique story about familial relationships, Castro weaves the balance between unleashing one’s full potential while maintaining relationships with others.

“I really wanted to capture the essence of the broad spectrum of what it means to be a woman and to do something significant with your life,” Castro said. “‘Eleemosynary’ is a story about inner-generational conflict, the power of words and the human capacity to have grace for one another.”


Different from most productions, the play features a three-person cast throughout the entire show. Additionally, the play is one act and runs for 70 minutes straight, dismissing the need for an intermission. Because the cast only consists of three women, they had to cancel rehearsals whenever one of them was sick. However, the actresses each appreciated being in a small, tight-knit cast. Senior theater major Emily Delgado, who directed the fall production of  “Almost, Maine,” portrays eccentric, spiritualist grandmother Dorothea Westbrook. Delgado initially found difficulty in transitioning from directing to acting, but ultimately connected with her bizarre character.

Freshman cinema and media arts major Olivia Mays, who portrays Artie, the daughter of Dorothea, was immediately intrigued by the depth of the relationship-focused story.

“It just seemed like a story that wouldn’t normally be told but needed to be told,” Mays said.

With a character who seems standoffish and independent, Mays has enjoyed exploring the complex layers of Artie. Despite Artie’s stern countenance, she desires love and companionship like everyone else, but just has a strange way of showing it.

Freshman sociology major Emma Trueba, who portrays Echo, the daughter of Artie and granddaughter of Dorothea, considers the production the biggest project she has ever taken on. Also drawn to the emphasis of maternal relationships, Trueba appreciates the opportunity to work between two generations of mothers. For Trueba, truly embracing her character’s lines has been the most challenging part of preparing for the production. Because the play displays relatable experiences, Trueba seeks to portray her character as authentically as she can.

“I hope that it brings the importance of these relationships to the forefront of people’s minds,” Trueba said. “These relationships aren’t perfect, and that’s OK because that’s how life is, but sometimes it is worth it to work through things with people and pursue good relationships.”


No matter where the audience find themselves in their relationships, they can all take away important reminders from “Eleemosynary.” Above all, Delgado hopes audiences leave feeling encouraged and challenged.

“I hope that it causes people to think, and I hope it makes people realize that we are capable of more than we think, both in the way that we love each other and in the things that we can do,” Delgado said.

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