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Three Driven and Intelligent Women

February 09, 2017

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Pygmalion Theatre Company’s season continues with “Eleemosynary,” by Lee Blessing, directed by Jeremy Chase, which plays Feb. 24 through March 11. The show stars Barb Gandy, Tracie Merrill and Sydney Shoell. 

three actors who star in the play

“Eleemosynary,” which premiered in 1985, follows the relationships between three generations of women. The word ‘eleemosynary’ itself plays a significant part in the plot.

The play probes into the delicate relationship of three singular women: the grandmother, Dorothea, who has sought to assert her independence through strong-willed eccentricity; her brilliant daughter, Artie (Artemis), who has fled the stifling domination of her mother; and Artie’s daughter, Echo, a child of exceptional intellect—and sensitivity—whom Artie has abandoned to an upbringing by Dorothea.

actors sydney shoell and tracie merrill

As the play begins, Dorothea has suffered a stroke, and while Echo has reestablished contact with her mother, it is only through extended telephone conversations, during which real issues are skirted and their talk is mostly about the precocious Echo's single-minded domination of a national spelling contest. But, in the end, both Artie and Echo come to accept their mutual need and summon the courage to try, at last, to build a life together - despite the risks and terrors that this holds for both of them after so many years of alienation.

Director Chase says he was drawn to the show because he has always enjoyed scripts with small casts, sharply drawn characters, and “not much else,” he said. “‘Eleemosynary’ fits that bill. These three characters have wonderful, challenging stories for the cast to inhabit and explore. I love words and a significant aspect of this play is about the love of language, and how that is part of a family bond. Language as knowledge.”

actors barb gandy and sydney shoell

He added that he has long been a fan of Blessing. “He's one of the great American playwrights of the latter part of the 20th century,” Chase said. “His love of language and choice of subject matter has always fascinated me. He's also economical, creating small yet rich worlds for theater folk to play in.”
Chase said the show fits in with the company mission statement of producing plays which reflect issues, concerns, and shared experiences in the lives of women.

“These characters represent three generations of driven, intelligent women,” he said. “They also break the mold of what's to be expected of them and how they find their way in the world. Their voices are aligned to the mission and spirit of the company.”

actor barb gandy

Barb Gandy, who plays Dorothea, said she was drawn to the show for many reasons. “The script is beautifully written; the roles are a dream for an actor; Jeremy (director) has a great passion for the play -- always a big plus when considering investment into a production,” Gandy said.

She added of the character she plays: “Dorothea, my role, is strong, decisive in amazing ways, and has a unique world view.  She is unexpected and therein lies her eccentricity.  I'm really excited.  

“Beyond bringing the script and these characters to life, I'm excited to explore these very complex relationships and why the women make the choices they do with huge ramifications to the family dynamic.”

Gandy said she also appreciates, simply, the words. “Finally, the language that highlights fantastic words should appeal to anyone that is literary as most theatre audiences are,” she said.  “I mean, how often does one get to relish words like Bijouterie, Glunch, and the title, Eleemosynary?

actor tracie merrill

Merrill, who plays Artie, a biochemist, jokes she was initially drawn to the challenge of learning to say the word ‘eleemosynary.’  She adds that she is a lover of personal stories. “It’s beautiful storytelling that involves complicated family, relationships and a quirky journey of growing and healing.”

Having been in numerous Pygmalion shows, Merrill said she is excited to get in the room and begin rehearsals, which began Monday. “Nerves morph into excitement, and the time for exploration begins,” she said. “I’m excited to work with this great group of artists, and attempt to discover what is the driving force that has led these three women from one decision to the next.”

actor sydney shoell

Shoell, who plays Echo, said this is her first time working for Pygmalion and she is interested in working for a theatre company that has such a focus on the stories of women. “This show in particular interested me because of how intriguing and complex this family dynamic is,” she said. “Also, because I am always interested in people that have a passion and all three of these women fight for their passions.”

Shoell added that she, too, is excited for the language of the show. “I am also very excited to spell things, which is a bit odd,” she said. “I have always been a terrible speller and rattling off a word like eleemosynary makes me want to invite my second-grade teacher to gloat.”

Who: Pygmalion Productions Theatre Company
What: “Eleemosynary”
When: Feb. 24 through March 11. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. with an extra matinee March 11 at 2 p.m. 
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South
Tickets: $15-$20 from (801) 355.ARTS (2787) or

-Daisy Blake

Daisy Blake grew up in Bath, England and is a trained journalist, as well as studying theatre, film and television at Bristol University. Her journalism training is from Hastings, England. She worked for the "Bath Chronicle," a daily morning newspaper, as education reporter from 1999 to 2001. She also wrote a monthly column for another English newspaper during this time, which she continued after she moved to Utah. After her move, she was a professional actor for seven years, then went back to her first love as arts writer for "IN This Week," a weekly entertainment publication from "The Salt Lake Tribune." She worked there until 2012 and continues to write on a freelance basis for the "Tribune." During that time, she won a Society of Professional Journalists' award for one of her theatre reviews. Daisy joined "Gephardt Daily" in November 2014, and is now proud to be content manager. Daisy also does PR and is on the board for Pygmalion Theatre Company, and is proud to have been in four of their shows, too. 


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Popular Salt Lake County ZAP (Zoo, Arts and Parks) Program accepts grant applications from arts & cultural organizations

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SALT LAKE COUNTY, UT – Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) is now accepting grant applications from qualifying organizations for 2017 Tier II funding. ZAP Tier II is a grant-making program that currently partially funds 153 arts and cultural organizations. 

The grants ZAP distributes come from sales tax. One penny of every 10 dollars spent in Salt Lake County is set aside for this cause. 

The ZAP Program first began in 1997 and was renewed in 2014 by the majority of Salt Lake County voters – a whopping 76.98%. 

Applications can be found on ZAP’s website.  

Tier II applications are due March 31, 2017 at 3:00 P.M.


  • ZAP was recently renewed by nearly 77% of Salt Lake County voters and is now accepting grant applications.
  • 175 arts and cultural organizations and over 30 parks and recreation facilities are partially funded by ZAP (Tier I, Tier II, Zoological and Recreation).
  • Tier II = nonprofit or municipal arts, cultural and botanical organizations with budgets less than $354,000. This group also includes organizations that are new to ZAP. These applications are due March 31, 2017.

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The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is currently funded in ZAP Tier II.



SALT LAKE COUNTY, UT – El programa de Zoologicos, Artes y Parques de Salt Lake (ZAP) esta aceptando aplicaciones de organizaciones que califican en el año 2017 en el nivel de Becas II este es un programa que otorga becas parciales para 153 organizaciones culturales  y de artes. 

Las becas ZAP se originan en los impuestos de ventas. 1 centavo de cada 10 dolares gastados en el condado de Salt Lakese utiliza para esta causa. 

El programa ZAP empezo en 1997 y se renovo en  2014 por la mayoria votante de Salt Lake County- un sorprendente  76.98%. 

Las aplicaciones se pueden encontrar en el sitio ZAP.

La fecha de cierre para convocatorias es Marzo 31, 2017 a las 3:00 P.M. 

Notas importantes:

  • ZAP fue recientemente renovado por casi 77% de los votantes de el condado de Salt Lake County y estamos aceptando aplicaciones.
  • 175 de las organizaciones culturales y artisticas y mas de 30 parques y facilidades de recreacion son parcialmente  fundadas por ZAP (Nivel I, Nivel II, Zoologicas y de Recreacion).
  • Nivel II = Organizaciones de artes, culturales y botanicas y sin fines de lucro con presupuestos de menos de $354,000. Este grupo tambien incluye organizaciones nuevas a ZAP. Estas aplicaciones cierran em 31 de marzo, 2017.



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