Eleemosynary. My favorite word. I discovered eleemosynary when I was cast in a show by the same name, Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing. I fell in love with the script, with the word and the definition. I tried out the name, Eleemosynary for a couple of years, but no one knew how to pronounce it and after explaining it to more people than I care to count, a fellow classmate of mine in grad school suggested I shorten it to Project Ele.
Why eleemosynary? My greatest lessons in life have come about as a result of this art form. As an awkward teen with many insecurities and hang-ups, performing gave me the opportunity to escape the real me and transform into someone who was able to communicate with the audience and others on a daily basis.
The first time I felt that connection with the audience, I was smitten. At the time, I didn’t think about it as a moment of education, awareness or understanding, but that’s what it was. I learned about myself, the topic we were presenting and its effect on our audiences.
The conversations that have resulted from heartfelt, shared moments between performers and audience members have impacted me in a way that would shape my life and work in the theatre. I never tire of that connection, of those moments where you know what is happening is something special because people are connecting, being made aware, or have a new understanding of a story they hadn’t heard before. I live for those moments and the affirmation of them.
Project Ele is devoted to finding stories about difficult subjects that will encourage us to look at them in new ways, with a new understanding or awareness. We do not presume to know the right from the wrong with some of these topics, but only hope to prompt discussion that will bring us to a place of love, generosity, compassion and understanding.