One man show. One Hour. On February 5, the Utah Shakespeare Festival performed the play Every Brilliant Thing featuring the actor Cordell Cole at Snow College. The show addressed a serious issue with warmth and hope. It was a funny and moving show that brought to light the effects of suicide.
The play features a man telling a story of his past, specifically when he was seven-year-old. It was a difficult time in his life when his mom was in the hospital. He doesn’t understand, the only thing he knows is that his mom finds it hard to be happy. Then, he starts writing a list about every brilliant thing about the world that he considers worth living for. He leaves it for his mom to read, and he knows she has read it because she corrected his spelling.
The audience participation was a key interaction from the beginning of the play. Students, teachers and community members participated at the Snow College performance. It started with audience members reading several items on the Every Brilliant Thing list. For example, “1. Ice Cream, 2. Waterfights, 3. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV, 4. The color yellow, 5. Things with stripes, 6. Roller Coasters, 7. People falling over”, and so much more.
The list went on and on, and the more the story was told the more items were added to the list. In the story of the play, the purpose of the Every Brilliant Thing list was to bring to light all things that are worth living for. The list reached one million things. For the character in the play, the list had changed how he saw the world.
The play Every Brilliant Thing brought joy and comfort to many audience members. Actor Cordell Cole shares his opinion about how important the play is to him based on what audience members have told him after performances. Cole shared, “I feel like this is the most important work I have ever done in my life.”
The play brought a new perspective and insight to the effects on suicide. It is the truth on stage. Harrison Clark, a student at Snow College says, “It was mind blowing. It was an amazing experience to be involved in the play as an audience member and I think this play can open up your eyes to a new perspective and help you understand so many things.”
The play, Every Brilliant Thing wants every audience member to remember this when it comes to suicide, “Don’t do it. Things get better. Not always brilliant, but they do get better.”