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Some Theatre Company wants you in the audience for ‘Every Brilliant Thing’

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Local production coincides with national rollout of 988 suicide and crisis lifeline

BANGOR – A play dealing with a subject relatable to many people that has been described as uplifting and joyously life-affirming is currently in rehearsals in preparation for its run August 25-28 at Some Theatre Company located inside the Bangor Mall.

Duncan Macmillan’s “Every Brilliant Thing” is an interactive show that speaks openly about depression, mental illness and suicide, the effects it has on those closest to us and the different methods we have for coping, including humor, avoidance, or finding the many small but brilliant things we have to hold onto.

Macmillan has a rep as a playwright for shining a light on challenging social and personal issues. “Every Brilliant Thing” began life as a stage play before being adapted for a 2016 HBO film and a book of the same name.

During a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Macmillan explained his goal with the story was to openly reinforce a message for people with depression: “You’re not alone, you’re not weird, you will get through it and you’ve just got to hold on. That’s a very uncool, unfashionable thing for someone to say, but I really mean it. I didn’t see anyone discussion of suicidal depression in a useful or interesting or accurate way.”

Amanda Elliott of Bangor is part of the cast of Some Theatre Company’s production of “Every Brilliant Thing” and says she emotionally connected to the story after first seeing the film version on HBO.

“It takes a show like this with such a powerful message to make me want to get involved,” she told The Maine Edge. “We walk away from rehearsals knowing how important this is, but we have no idea if the audience for this will be there. They are a huge part of this production, and we need a packed house for each of the four shows. I promise nobody will leave this show without feeling something.”

“Every Brilliant Thing” was written as a 60-to-80-minute monologue with one narrator but the Some Theatre Company production involves four actors in that role. Joining Elliott in the cast are Quinn Bard, Elaine Bard and Clayton Perry.

“We wanted to make clear the reality that depression and the experiences referenced in this production can have different faces,” Elliott said, adding “This isn’t just a story of one person, it could apply to anyone.”

Director Deb Hammond says she knew after reading the script that she wanted to direct “Every Brilliant Thing” for Some Theatre Company.

“It’s captivating and it engages the audience in a way that other shows don’t necessarily do,” Hammond said. “The audience becomes characters and they actually say the list of brilliant things. This show uses props and most of them come from the audience. We’d like each member of the audience to bring a copy of their favorite book along with a pen or pencil.”

The number of people dealing with depression has snowballed over the last two and a half years since the dawn of the pandemic.

According to researchers at Boston University, one person in five had experienced symptoms of depression in 2019. A year later that figure had increased to 28%. In 2021, one out of three people had experienced depression.

If it’s a condition affecting so many, why is depression still considered a difficult subject to discuss? Elliott and Hammond both say that helping eliminate the stigma surrounding depression is one of the goals of STC’s production of “Every Brilliant Thing.”

“I’m passionate about eliminating that stigma,” Elliott said. “A lot of people grew up in an environment where discussion of depression or mental health in general didn’t happen. You were there to put on a good face and make a good impression. Some people are made to feel that admitting to depression is admitting to a shortcoming or they might appear inferior, it just cycles from there.”

Elliott stressed that when people have physical health conditions, they are often visible.

“You can’t see depression which brings up the argument of invisible conditions,” she said. “Somebody might say ‘You don’t look depressed.’ Well, what does depression look like?”

Hammond believes the stigma surrounding discussions of depression, while still present, has lessened to a degree in recent years, thanks in part to stories like “Every Brilliant Thing.”

“It’s really nice to see how things have changed, that it’s OK; we can discuss this, there is no shame. People do struggle and you’re not alone. I think the audience participation element of “Every Brilliant Thing” enhances that message even more. It’s a conversation that needs to be had.”

Some Theatre Company has scheduled four performances of “Every Brilliant Thing,” from Thursday to Saturday, August 25 to August 27, at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee performance on Sunday, August 28, at 2:00 p.m.

With every ticket purchase for “Every Brilliant Thing,” your name is entered into a drawing to win a basket of self-care goodies, which includes a free fitness class at Gold’s Gym, a free haircut at Salon Bonifacio, luxury bath bombs from Serenity Sweets and Self-Care, two tickets to STC’s upcoming production of “Carrie: The Musical,” and more.

Tickets are available at www.STCmaine.org

Some Theatre Company is located inside the Bangor Mall at 663 Stillwater Ave. Audience members are asked to please park between JC Penney and the furniture store.

(The STC production of “Every Brilliant Thing” coincides with the national rollout of the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline. It is free help available 24/7 for anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. All calls are anonymous and the lifeline supports people who call for themselves or for someone they love.)

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 August 2022 06:37

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