Shakespeare Fest Brings Play With Suicide Prevention Message To Utah Public Schools

Oct 15, 2019, 10:29 AM | Updated: 10:34 am
"Every Brilliant Thing" will be performed at public schools across Utah through February 2020. (Pho...
"Every Brilliant Thing" will be performed at public schools across Utah through February 2020. (Photo: Utah Shakespeare Festival)
(Photo: Utah Shakespeare Festival)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In an effort to tackle the issue of suicide among youth, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is offering a play to every public high school and university in the state of Utah.

According to a statement from the Shakespeare Festival, the play, “Every Brilliant Thing,” by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, has a life-affirming message: Life is worth living.

The show “… is an ingenious, heartfelt, highly theatrical one-person show wherein the narrator interacts directly with the audience,” according to the statement.

It focuses on a narrator who, as a child, had a parent attempt suicide. The narrator then decides to make a list of all the things that make life worth living, starting with “ice cream” at No. 1. The list continues on to 1 million.

“This inventive, beautifully rendered theatrical experience is unique in the way the audience becomes a support community for the narrator and gains rich insights along the way about the things hiding in plain sight that make life worthwhile and wonderful,” according to the Shakespeare Festival.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who has discussed his own struggles with suicidal thoughts as a young man, said he is proud of the festival for its efforts to perform the show at public schools throughout Utah.

“Many youth today do not have adequate support structures and demand our attention and the encouragement from efforts like this,” he said. “I believe this production will save lives.”

Two separate touring companies will be taking “Every Brilliant Thing” across the state from October to February 2020, presenting more than 160 total performances to more than 75,000 students.

“Taking two tours of ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ around the state of Utah is a public service effort the Festival is proud of,” said Donn Jersey, director of development and communication. “The hope is this endeavor starts a conversation and removes the secrets that can cause suffering so healing can be a real possibility for those affected by depression and suicidal thoughts. We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors for making this dream a reality.”

"Every Brilliant Thing" will be performed at public schools across Utah through February 2020. (Photo: Utah Shakespeare Festival)

“Every Brilliant Thing” will be performed at public schools across Utah through February 2020. (Photo: Utah Shakespeare Festival)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah has the highest rate of suicide for people ages 10 – 24, and it ranks sixth highest in the nation.

“This is some of the most important work we, as a theatre company, can do,” said Frank Mack, executive producer of the Festival. “While it’s not treatment, artistic experiences that so powerfully say ‘yes’ to life can have a profound impact. When we see someone else’s story, it can help us reflect on our circumstances in completely new and different ways. When young people see, in a marvelously creative and theatrical way, one million reasons to live, it will help shed light on what’s most positive. Live theatre can do this like nothing else.”

The production will be performed at no cost to the schools, thanks to the support of the state, the Department of Heritage and Arts, the Utah Department of Arts and Museums, Rural Health Division of Southern Utah, Southern Utah University, the Ashton Family Foundation, and the Hemingway Foundation.

For showtime information and to request the show be performed at a school, go to bard.org/brillianttour-info.


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Shakespeare Fest Brings Play With Suicide Prevention Message To Utah Public Schools