A Brilliant Thing

A Brilliant Thing

December 7, 2018

A brilliant thing happened in our school recently. A dramatic performance, staged over three nights in the H.J. Zhang Black Box Theatre, and with a cast of just nine students, challenged the audience to consider why life might be worth living.

An ISF adaptation of Duncan Macmillan’s play, Every Brilliant Thing, this year’s Senior School Production, was executed with great confidence by its young cast, setting an unrelenting pace, as the main protagonist, wrestling with his mother’s depression, sought to list ‘every brilliant thing’ in life.

For the cast, there were great risks taken each night. The performance required considerable audience involvement, with some key cameo roles played by largely unprepared members of the audience who were chosen in a random manner. This unpredictable audience element helped to shape each performance in a unique way and certainly made the experience more memorable for all.

There is no doubt that some of the more challenging themes explored in the production, such as depression, anxiety, marital discord, and suicide, were best suited to mature audiences. Indeed, the play, which was followed the next day by a well-attended talk to parents by the noted psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg on Raising Happy & Resilient Young People, subsequently generated considerable animated discussion in our community on the promotion of student well-being. The core structural device in the play, compiling a list of every brilliant in life, offers a compelling case for each of us to emulate the central character’s mission and compile a dynamic list of the things that enrich and give purpose to our lives, no matter how trivial.

In our production, the eclectic collection of brilliant things, ranging from chocolate ice cream to dancing without fear, was inspiring in its prosaic, mundane character. Yet, it offered hope and encouragement to all of us in the audience in that the brilliance of life may not be limited to the lofty achievements of the powerful and influential, but may also be manifested in the quiet pleasure found in a cup of well-brewed tea and a freshly baked biscuit – a brilliant thing indeed.


Dr. Malcolm Pritchard

Head of School

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