Kung Fu movies, water fights, people falling over, roller coasters, construction cranes. These are some of the things worth laughing and living for in the world.
These are the things on a list of brilliant reasons not to commit suicide.
“Every Brilliant Thing,” a 2015 one-person play shown in the round, is returning to Charleston for Piccolo Spoleto. Written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe, “Every Brilliant Thing” tells the story of one person’s mission to tell his mother every reason to live after her suicide attempt.
The play was part of the Spoleto Festival last year and premiered on HBO this past December. This year, Threshold Repertory Theatre is taking a crack at the show.
Darryl LaPlante, who runs Threshold, is directing. He said that while the play confronts the realities of depression and suicide, it does so with humor.
“It will really make you laugh your biggest laugh,” he said.
Even audience members who haven’t felt the agony of suicide loss or the depression of a loved one can relate, LaPlante said. His favorite line in the play explains what makes the show so relatable:
“If you live a long life and get to the end of it without ever once having felt crushingly depressed, then you probably haven’t been paying attention.”
“Every Brilliant Thing” was originally written to star a British man, but LaPlante said the play can be adjusted to include a female actor and to localize the context. He said some of the brilliant things are pertinent specifically to Charleston, but the theme of the play remains the same.
Amelia Sciandra, 28, is returning to the Threshold stage to star in “Every Brilliant Thing.” She made her Charleston debut in Theshold’s production of the play “Mine” in January and now lives in Durham, N.C., where she teaches 5th- and 6th-grade Spanish at Durham Academy.
While the show is not blatantly different with a female star, it does add an additional mother-daughter element, Sciandra said.
“I realize every day that I’m becoming more and more like my mother,” she said. “So as my character, I think, ‘If this is my mom going through these things, am I going to start feeling this way too?’ ”
LaPlante said that this production of “Every Brilliant Thing” is timely in light of the recent controversy about how Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” handled, or mishandled, the topic of depression and suicide.
Some critics and experts claim that the TV show glamourized suicide and incorrectly suggested that suicide can be blamed on one particular thing or person. Others praised “13 Reasons Why” for sparking a dialogue about teen mental illness and suicide.
LaPlante said that Corrine Tyo, a theater teacher from Fort Dorchester High School, approached him after a rehearsal and said she’s bringing some of her students to see the play.
“They need to see how you can still talk about something that’s fairly difficult and not take it over the edge,” Tyo said.
Sciandra said she has a similar perspective on “Every Brilliant Thing” versus “13 Reasons Why.” But “Every Brilliant Thing,” she said, isn’t taboo or controversial.
“I don’t think this show is offensive,” she said. “It does a really good job of talking about depression and suicide. It’s a really human approach to something that a lot of people deal with silently.”
Chase Ferren is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.