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Every Brilliant Thing

January 23 - February 9, 2020

WRITTEN BY Duncan Macmillan
with Jonny Donahoe

DIRECTED BY Tyler Marchant

“[A] heart-wrenching, hilarious play…One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop…”

– The Guardian (UK)

A One-Actor Play Featuring David Daniel

You’re seven years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy. So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for.

#1. Ice cream.
#2. Water fights.
#3. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV.

You leave it on her pillow, hoping. And you add to the list throughout your life.

An immersive storytelling experience blends comedy, improv, and audience interaction to tell the story of a boy growing up in the shadow of mental illness, and learning to grapple with his own adult experiences with love, loss and depression. Every Brilliant Thing provides a life-affirming jolt of humanism, reminding us that hope comes from the miracles of life’s minutiae.

Overture Center for the Arts

201 State St,
Madison, WI 53703

Sponsored By:

National Guardian Life

Sybil & Maurice Better

CUNA Mutual

Dane Arts

Stafford Rosenbaum

Our Lives Magazine

About the show


Performance Dates:
January 23 – February 9, 2020

Age Recommendations:


We strive to make our performances available to the entire community. This guiding principle captures the theater we aim to be.

We’re proud to be a resident company at Overture Center, which provides practical accessibility for a variety of needs.

Visit accessibility page >


– This play is presented in-the-round in the Playhouse at Overture Center, with all seating located on the main level. There is no balcony seating for this production.
– If you would like tickets, we highly recommend choosing the “Round Seating” option on This is a new seating section built specially for this production, and offers an excellent view of the play!


*Samaritans Media Guidelines are referred to in Every Brilliant Thing. Here is the list, which is intended for journalists to support informed and safe coverage of suicide. You can learn more about Samaritans here.

• Don’t provide technical details.
• Never suggest that a method is quick, easy, painless, or certain to result in death.
• Avoid dramatic headlines, terms like “suicide epidemic” or “hot spot.”
• Avoid sensationalist pictures or video.
• Avoid excessive detail.
• Avoid using the word “commit.”
• Don’t describe deaths by suicide as “successful.”
• Don’t publish suicide notes.
• Don’t publish on the front page.
• Don’t ignore the complex realities of suicide and its impacts on those left behind.
• Include references to support groups, such as the Samaritans.
• Don’t speculate on the reason. That’s crucial.
• Don’t supply simplistic reasons such as “he’d lost his job” or “she’d recently become bankrupt.”


Forward Theater Company offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. Every Brilliant Thing does not include the use of any physical production elements, such as a strobe effect, an herbal cigarette, gunshots or haze effects.

We don’t offer unsolicited content advisories, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have questions or concerns about content or themes, we are happy to provide details. Please leave us a message at 608-234-5001 and we will promptly return your call, or email us at

David Daniel
Creative Team
Noele Stollmack
Lighting Designer
Christopher Dunham
Set Designer
Kristina Sneshkoff
Costume Designer
Joe Cerqua
Composer and Sound Designer
Pamela Miles
Props Designer
Sarah Deming-Henes
Stage Manager
Enya Nett
Kevin Zimmer
Technical Director


David Daniel and Tyler Marchant with Artistic Director Jen Uphoff Gray

Check out a behind-the-scenes interview with actor David Daniel and Director Tyler Marchant, where they discuss the process of creating this one-of-a-kind theater experience. Recorded exclusively for our Theater Forward podcast:

You can also listen via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, OverCast, Stitcher

Check out an audio recording of the free, pre-show lecture presented before the Thursday and Sunday performances of Every Brilliant Thing.

More from this season

Mary Jane
September 12 - 29, 2019
For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday
November 7 - 24, 2019
The Amateurs
March 19 - April 5, 2020