Mental health is still a difficult subject despite people being more openminded about it. Here in the Philippines, government officials have been pushing for a law to expand our scope of knowledge in the matter and to also strengthen assistance for those afflicted with mental illness. After all, this is the same as having something as simple as a common flu—it needs to be diagnosed and treated.
In light of this, The Sandbox Collective wanted to spread awareness in a tongue-in-cheek and emotional way via their latest showcase Every Brilliant Thing. Directed by Jenny Jamora and starring Teresa Herrera-Anthony, it’s a one-woman show detailing the mental health struggles of a mother and how it affects the people around her. Teresa’s character then creates a list of brilliant things in hopes of helping her mom. It was originally written by Duncan Macmillan (Lungs) and was loosely based on the life of Johnny Donahoe.
Executive producer and artistic director Toff De Venecia said during the press night that they tweaked some elements from the original script. One of the main things is going for a female lead instead of the usual male. He shared that since the prime movers of the Mental Health Act in the country are women (hello, Sen. Risa Hontiveros!), it made sense to have Teresa perform and spread awareness on the matter.
The play makes you feel everything on a personal level. The audience and performer aren’t separated with a high stage. Instead, everyone’s seated in a support group-type format as Teresa says her piece. What’s more special about this is that you can be part of the play too by reciting all the brilliant things and possibly even act as one of the characters.
I won’t give much away since Every Brilliant Thing is something that you should experience yourself, most especially if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health problems. My personal favorite part was the talkback session right after the play. According to associate producer Kakki Teodoro, these will have various topics and speakers during the play’s run. These will range from educational discussions with mental health advocates and practitioners, to mini wellness workshops. The goal for this is to “create a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts on the play and their personal experiences.” It also helps that the Suicide Hotline will be flashed on the screens while talkbacks are happening as a reminder that help is just a dial away if you need it.
Every Brilliant Thing is a rollercoaster of happiness and sadness, but the overarching theme of not going through it—both the play and our personal demons—alone offers a light feeling in your heart. You’re sure to come out with more pertinent knowledge on mental health awareness, as well as a feeling of empathy for people in general.
Plus, if you want a reason to watch it multiple times, just know that each date will be different depending on the audience for specific dates. So you’re really meant to go in and meet various people while experiencing the play in a different light each time. But the message and learnings are all the same.
Every Brilliant Thing premieres today, Feb. 2, at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For tickets, visit Ticket World or call (0956) 200-4909.
Photos courtesy of The Sandbox Collective
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