‘Every Brilliant Thing’ at Utah Shakespeare Festival engages audience with suicide awareness

Southern Utah

CEDAR CITY (ABC4 News) – A new play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival joins audience members to engage in suicide awareness and prevention.

With a single actor in the cast, Michael Doherty takes the audience on a journey in the play “Every Brilliant Thing.” The story unfolds as the character deals with his mother’s depression, starting when he is 7 years old.

The character starts a list of everything worth living for, and Doherty invites the audience to participate; at times, members shout out one of the nearly one-million items on his list.

Some audience members called the experience a tribute to resilience and hope.

“[Doherty’s] such an open, honest, emotional human being,” said Alex Keiper, the actor’s fiancee. “He shares that so freely, and I think it gives the audience permission to do the same thing.”

Others in the audience said the play taught them new ways to have conversations about depression and suicide.

“When you’re in that state, it’s difficult to see that other people would be too, and this lets people see that they’re not the only ones,” said audience member Andy Jenkins.

Doherty said the play won’t be disappearing any time soon, explaining that the state legislature funded a high school tour in the near future so that four actors, as he acts as their director, can perform the play at every high school in the state.

“We’re gonna try to get as many kids to see this as possible,” Doherty said. “This sits in silence and I think it’s a way for people to be able to say something.”

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