Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Montana Dakota Utilities, Town Pump and Grandstreet Theatre proudly present Every Brilliant Thing - A Montana Tour on Thursday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Conrad High School Auditorium. Admission is free but any goodwill donations collected will support the Pondera County Mental Health Advisory Board.
Written by award-winning British playwright Duncan Macmillan with UK comedian Jonny Donahoe and alternately starring Helena native Rosie Seitz Ayers and Ryan Eggensperger, this powerful one-actor show explores mental health, families and the ways we love in a hilarious and uplifting production for both adults and teenagers.
The story is about a seven year old who comes home from school to learn that Mom is in the hospital. Dad says, “She’s done something stupid.” The kid begins to create a list for Mom. A list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for. 1) Ice cream 2) Water fights 3) Staying up past your bedtime to watch TV.
As time passes and the list grows, what began as a naive attempt to make Mom happy becomes an epic chronicle of life’s little wonders. A tribute to the irrepressible resilience inside all of us and the capacity to find delight in the everyday, Every Brilliant Thing is a funny, clever and surprisingly uplifting play about the lengths we go to for those we love.
Macmillan said he aimed to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness by creating new ways to discuss it openly – and by making people laugh.
“I don’t think I’ve laughed as much making a piece of work as I have with this show, and yet we had quite a seriousness of purpose,” said Duncan.
“We wanted to talk about depression in a way that was accurate and which didn’t alienate an audience. Considering how common depression is, it’s surprising how much stigma there still is around it, how reluctant people are to discuss it,” he continued. “We kept reminding ourselves of the aims of the piece – to make people feel okay to talk and think about depression, to talk about it responsibly and accurately, and to provide a few tools with which to think and talk about it. That sounds quite worthy now I say it out loud, but we mean it,” added Duncan.
Co-creator Donahoe described the play as “the funniest thing you’ll ever see about the least funny thing in the world. You cannot get through life without an experience of depression, whether that means suffering from it yourself or knowing a loved one who is going through it. So talking about depression is absolutely vital but it’s a bloody difficult thing to do. Hopefully we’ve built something that makes that just a tiny bit easier,” he said.
Every Brilliant Thing will tour Montana for 50 performances from now through Aug. 3 thanks to a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, who have prioritized suicide prevention efforts throughout the state. With their help, Grandstreet Theatre will be able to share this beautiful show and its life-affirming message with all of Montana.
Managing Director Kal Poole said, “There are many folks who deal with mental health issues across the state and unfortunately we have the highest rate of suicide per capita in the nation. The beauty of Every Brilliant Thing is that it takes the same impulse that people have toward spiraling downward and changes the direction. This show encourages spiraling up and becoming obsessed with gratitude and beauty in everyday moments. We have a feeling that that message will resonate with audiences throughout Montana.”
Rosie Seitz Ayers grew up on stage at Grandstreet Theater in Helena, and went on to earn her BFA in Theatre and MA in Integrated Arts in Education at The University of Montana in Missoula, where she has been raising her children with her husband Michael. Rosie has worked with several theater companies throughout Montana. Her true passion is for directing and teaching in the Theatre Arts. Mrs. Ayers directs productions regionally and currently teaches theatre for SPARK! within MCPS, in schools around Montana, and for Teresa Waldorf’s Summer Theatre Camp.
Ryan Eggensperger couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of this project. Born and raised in suburban Connecticut, Ryan dropped out of acting school in 1997 to work at Thompson River Lumber (Thompson Falls) during which time he discovered Herman Melville and the mountains and hasn’t been the same since. He holds a B.A. in Writing and Literature from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colo.