Every Brilliant Thing

By Duncan MacMillan, with Jonny Donahoe

Directed by Sydney Parks Smith

September 27 – October 19, 2019

“One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression.” -The Guardian

1. Ice cream. 2. Water fights. 3. Staying up past your bedtime. 4. Things with stripes. 5. People falling over. Every Brilliant Thing is a one-woman tour-de-forceabout a child’s fierce, flawed attempt to make sense of adult unhappiness by creating a list of everything that makes life worth living. As we follow the child to adulthood, the list becomes a touchstone that shines a gentle theatrical light on the way sweetness and sorrow are both magnified by tragedy. Exceptionally warm, unflinchingly honest and gloriously funny, this jazz-inspired story captures the irrepressible resilience of the human spirit and the capacity to find delight in the everyday.

Debut Theatre – 827 Riverside Ave

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"...a reminder that good things come in small packages." – NY Daily News

The Story

You’re seven years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy. You start a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for. You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling.

"…has a way of turning perceived bugaboos into blessings." —NY Times

The Experience

Be prepared to participate when you take your seat at Every Brilliant Thing. Also be prepared to leave that seat at some point during the performance. No need to worry — but it couldn't hurt to come with a ready-made wedding toast and a novel you wouldn't mind being caught with. Beyond the hefty contributions from the crowd that make it anything but a "one-man" endeavor, it's difficult to describe the performance piece as a "play" in the traditional sense. It is more a communal experience — bordering on group therapy — than a passively absorbed theatrical presentation. 

When we say Every Brilliant Thing is an immersive storytelling experience, we mean it! Every Brilliant Thing contains hilarious, touching and healing conversations about mental health and suicide. It is recommended for teens and adults.

*All decisions on student attendance are left to the discretion of the parent(s).

OpenStage Theatre’s etcetera Season is raw, real, honest and intimate cutting-edge theatre in non-traditional spaces. With the actors only a few feet away audience members are drawn deeply into the action of the play, creating a powerful and unforgettable experience. Be prepared for a moving, intimate experience that will leave you thinking and feeling long after the lights come up.

The Creators

Duncan MacMillan is an English playwright and director. His most noted plays are Lungs, Places and Things, Every Brilliant Thing, and the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Macmillan’s major plays usually deal with contemporary socio-political issues such as addiction and recovery to depression and suicide. His first love is music and he was previously a DJ and avid music director. Read More 

Jonny Donahoe is a British comedian, writer and performer. He is best known for being the front man for the comedy band Jonny and the Baptistes and also performs as a standup comedian. Donahoe is known for blurring the line between art and real life. He originally performed Every Brilliant Thing and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, and an Off-Broadway Alliance Award for his performance. Read More

Performance Schedule and Ticket Options


  • Fab Friday
  • Matinee Performance
  • Pay What You Can
  • Performance
  • Student/Educator Night
Please choose a date below for tickets.

Cast and Creatives