What do you do when you are six years old and your mother is in the hospital for attempting suicide? You start a list of everything that is beautiful and fills you with wonder about the world. And you leave it on your mother’s pillow for her to read. That is the story that sets Every Brilliant Thing into motion, the next play in the New Jewish Theatre’s 2023 season.
This unique, imaginative, and engaging one-person show will run from March 16 – April 2. Written by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, this show gives an uplifting look at the challenges of life and love and the joy of finding light amidst the darkness of depression. What started as a performance piece, installation art project and Facebook group where people were invited to list their own “brilliant things,” the play has become a phenomenon with productions all over the country and a successful HBO documentary special.
Director Ellie Schwetye and Actor Will Bonfiglio are reuniting after last teaming up after New Jewish Theatre’s successful 2019 production of Fully Committed. Schwetye is also the co-producer for the Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble and has directed for many St. Louis theatres. Bonfiglio is the director of COCAbiz and an accomplished St. Louis actor, having received three St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards. The rest of the production team includes Bess Moynihan (scenery and lighting), Michele Friedman Siler (costumes), and Katie Orr (props supervisor). Schwetye will also be the sound designer for the production. The stage manager is Megan Cahill.
“Every Brilliant Thing is a play about hope, resiliency, and all of the brilliant things that make life worth living. It is also a testament to the power of theatre and theatre’s ability to build and create community–which seems almost more important than ever these days,” says Bonfiglio about the production.
He also spoke to the special way in which this story is told, saying, “there is a unique collaborative and communal storytelling element to the piece, which will be fun to explore. I feel lucky to have the chance to team up again with my dear friend, Ellie, after our collaboration on Fully Committed. She brings such attention, care, and joy to every moment of the rehearsal process, and I’m thrilled to work with her once again!”
“The core of this play is joy and the wonder we can all derive from simple, everyday life, despite its sometimes enormous challenges,” said Schwetye. She continued, “The opportunity to work on Every Brilliant Thing at New Jewish Theatre is so special, as the J has become another artistic home for me.”
Of the inclusion in New Jewish Theatre’s season, Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet said, “this production fills an important role in our season as our Tikkun Olam play.”
“Tikkun Olam is the Jewish value of repairing or healing the world and Every Brilliant Thing offers a powerful and entertaining story of one man’s fight to heal his family and himself, while also offering enormous insight into the difficulties and complexities of loving someone with mental illness,” explained Scallet.
Every Brilliant Thing will perform at the J’s Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis) March 16-April 2. Individual tickets for the show are $49-$54. Tickets are available by phone at 314-442-3283 or online at newjewishtheatre.org.