‘Every Brilliant Thing’ back at ACHS Nov. 27 for free showing


From ALISHA CALL/Ark City USD 470

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

This is the start of a list of one million things that prove life is beautiful and worth living in the play “Every Brilliant Thing” by Duncan MacMillan with Jonny Donahoe.

Nitty Gritty Theatre and Burford Theatre Arts are thrilled to present “Every Brilliant Thing” for free at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 27, at Arkansas City High School. There is another showing at the Burford Theatre Nov. 20.


Seating is limited and may be reserved by calling Ark City High School at 620-441-2010.

The play features this list, curated over a lifetime by the show’s narrator, who started it as a child after their mother attempted suicide. Meg Calvin stars as the narrator and will interact directly with the audience in this intimate performance surrounding mental health themes. Allyson Moon, a Professor of Theatre from Southwestern College, directs the show.

“Everyone is impacted by mental health – even if just through a friend or family member. Mental health is always so hard to talk about. It makes us feel vulnerable and, for some, weak – but how this play addresses the topic shows us that talking about it is okay,” Moon said. “It’s more than okay because we are not alone when the darkness grows.”

She thinks “Every Brilliant Thing” makes a heavy topic lighter to talk about.

“Throughout the narrator’s life, people have added many more brilliant things to the list,” Moon said. “What’s special is that every brilliant thing is specific to you but also gives hope for others to find their brilliant things.”

This opportunity, made possible through a grant from The VJ Wilkins Foundation and Legacy Regional Community Foundation, not only brings this performance to our community but also allows every Ark City High School student to watch “Every Brilliant Thing” live during school. In the days surrounding the performances, students and staff will participate in a variety of activities and conversations pertaining to mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention.

Ark City High School Principal Melissa Seacat said the school’s leadership and counseling teams are excited about the program they’ve developed to complement “Every Brilliant Thing.”

“We want to help guide students through the often difficult conversations surrounding suicide and depression,” Seacat said. “Our intention is to equip our staff, students, and their families with the resources to address mental health concerns through conversation and wellness activities.”

Seacat acknowledged that the high school has been greatly impacted by suicide in recent years and that while comedy is woven throughout the play, the topics discussed are still heavy. With that in mind, counselors will be at the high school to provide support for students and staff members during that week.

“For years, we didn’t discuss this topic, let alone bring it within the classroom,” said USD 470 Superintendent Dr. Ron Ballard. “Then, we recognized the resulting loss of youth, their emptiness, and the fear. It’s time for all of us to reach out and make kindness and care part of our daily routine and effort. These young people are our most prized possessions and represent our potential for continuing success. Let’s recognize – the loss of only one…is far too many.

Yazmin Wood, Chief Executive Officer of Legacy Regional Community Foundation, said using socially-conscious theatre as a catalyst for important conversations can help us to find adaptive solutions and take action.

“Many organizations are working collectively in addressing mental and behavioral health in our community,” Wood said. “Efforts to host community discussions put books focusing on mental health awareness and recommended styles of interaction into the hands of law enforcement and teachers, strengthening programming for our youth, and sharing the lived stories of those experiencing barriers to equity and justice are just a few of the projects unfolding in our community in the coming months.”

Legacy, with the help of the VJ Wilkins Foundation and The Burford Theatre, also plans to continue the implementation of Nitty Gritty Theatre to aid in growing the social and emotional intelligence of our young people.

About Nitty Gritty Theatre

Nitty Gritty Theatre envisions Cowley County as a region where every child and family benefits from positive emotional and social conditions that nurture a life that is safe, happy, and healthy. Through partnerships with schools and communities, Nitty Gritty Theatre employs creative play and socially conscious theater to proactively foster mental and behavioral health in every child.

About Burford Theatre Arts

Burford Theatre Arts/Arkansas City Area Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that wants to benefit the community by serving as a catalyst and partner to enrich lives through the arts, to inspire creative thinking, and to transform the Burford Theatre Complex into a community keystone and center for the arts. For more information, please visit www.burfordtheatre.com or call 620-442-5895.