Emma Jane Garcia, as the unnamed central character of the interactive show “Every Brilliant Thing” plays her character from young age into middle adulthood with a large range of emotion. (Emily Matthiessen / Olmpic Peninsula News Group)

Emma Jane Garcia, as the unnamed central character of the interactive show “Every Brilliant Thing” plays her character from young age into middle adulthood with a large range of emotion. (Emily Matthiessen / Olmpic Peninsula News Group)

‘Every Brilliant Thing’ engages audiences, explores mental health

  • By Emily Matthiessen Olympic Peninsula News Group
  • Saturday, September 10, 2022 1:30am
  • LifeClallam County

PORT ANGELES — “Our upcoming show, ‘Every Brilliant Thing,’ is one of the funniest and most heart-warming shows we’ve done,” said Georgia Meyers of the Port Angeles Community Players.

“It’s also one of the most important. It deals with the serious issue of depression and suicide.

“But don’t let that make you think it’s a depressing play, it isn’t. It’s a play about love, hope and struggle, with a never-ending love for life and all it offers.”

This one-person cast production by playwright and musicophile Duncan Macmillian that encourages audience interaction is set for three evening shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18.

Performances are at Studio Bob, 118½ E. Front St., Port Angeles.

“The script encourages adaption in nearly every facet,” actor Emma Jane Garcia explained.

“Macmillan wrote it in a way that allows the production to resonate with each unique audience. Small changes were made to the music, timelines, settings, and characters to allow the audience to feel this story unfold directly in their day-to-day lives.”

Said Garcia, “This experience is all-at-once playful, hilarious, joyful, and heart wrenching. I think people will be surprised how entertaining and poignant a show about mental health can be. We really feel that this experience is important as it sheds a compassionate, heartfelt light on mental illness.”

Director Mindy Gelder said that as a thespian and a mental health professional, it blends two passions in her life “perfectly.”

“Every one of us lives with the reality of mental illness at some point in our lives, whether it be growing up with a struggling family member, suffering from anxiety or depression at some point, or living with a chronic mental illness oneself,” she said.

“ ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ is based on a true story about a child learning how to cope with her mom’s mental illness and her own fears, by composing a list of every brilliant thing in life.”

This list, Gelder said, evolves as the character goes through different developmental stages in life, as does the purpose of the list itself.

“Drawing audience members into the story, the actor uses improvisation to create a hilarious, entertaining experience,” Gelder said.

“Attendees become part of the story, rather than watching from a distance. It is a show that says, ‘To struggle is OK.’ It is real. It is part of life and life is messy, raw, and sometimes ‘brilliant.’”

Coinciding with suicide awareness month, tickets for “Every Brilliant Thing” are $15 and are available at pacp.ludus.com/19970. Audience members will be required to wear masks, though cast will be unmasked so the audience can hear them more clearly.

“The effects of suicide spread far beyond those that choose to kill themselves, which means that nearly every person will be impacted by suicide in their lifetime,” said Garcia. “In order to spread hope and circulate resources for those at risk, it is crucial that we bring conversations around suicide out of the shadows and directly into the light.

“It is integral that people understand that they are not alone in experiencing suicidal thoughts. Gathering in a creative space to discuss the intricacies of the highs and lows of life can make all the difference in the life of someone who feels unable to share this aspect of themself with their community.

“When you walk away from this experience, you will have a picture of all of the people who are standing firmly in your corner.”

________

Emily Matthiessen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at emily.matthiessen@sequimgazette.com.

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