Every Brilliant Thing

Nathan Goldberg, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Collaborators: Liv Morris, SMTD; Esmay Pricejones, SMTD; Tate Zeleznik, FTVM & SMTD; Casey Wilcox, SMTD; Ben Michalsky, CoE & Stamps; Ryo Kamibayashi, SMTD; Naomi Parr, LSA & SMTD; Jalen Steudle, SMTD; Samuel Guthartz, SMTD; Lenin Izquierdo, SMTD

Faculty Sponsor: Jose Casas, Associate Professor, SMTD

Executive Producers: The SMTD Mental Health Awareness Microgrant Committee; Paola Savvidou, Wellness Initiative Program Manager and LEO Lecturer III, SMTD; Stephanie Salazar, Manager, Outreach & Education Programs, MM Eisenberg Family Depression Faculty 

“You’re seven years old. Mum’s in the hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’ She finds it hard to be happy. You start a list of everything that’s brilliant in the world.”

Every Brilliant Thing is an interdisciplinary theatrical production that seeks to deeply impact the University of Michigan and SMTD community. Through a combination of live performance and streamed accessibility at the Duderstadt Video Center on March 15, the project aims to initiate vital conversations about mental illness, engaging audiences across campus and beyond.

The core essence of this project lies in utilizing the arts as a vehicle for storytelling, empathy cultivation, and initiating essential dialogues within our community.

By combining live performance with streaming technology, we aim to engage audiences in a candid and empathetic conversation about mental health. Theatre, in this context, catalyzes fostering understanding and support within our community.

The play delves into themes of depression, resilience, and human connection, following the heartwarming narrative of a child compiling a list of “brilliant” things to support their struggling mother.

Evolving from child-like naivete to adulthood, the play peels back layers, revealing the enduring impact of the mother and emphasizing the importance of life’s “little things.”

Every Brilliant Thing stands out for its unique adaptability, with the character tailored to each actor’s performance, fostering an original and dynamic experience in every staging. Audience participation and an immersive script create a universal connection, turning spectators into active participants. Led by Nathan Goldberg and directed by Liv Morris, a BFA Actor and Director, the project provides significant professional development opportunities, embodying student-led initiatives that nurture leadership, collaboration, and creative expression.

Our team brings forth an array of skills spanning theatre, technology, production, and mental health advocacy; this spectrum of expertise ensures a comprehensive and successful execution of our project. With a diverse team from SMTD, LSA, and FTVM, the project exemplifies interdisciplinary engagement — a key aspect of academic growth. Addressing pressing social challenges around mental health, the play employs storytelling and live performance to foster dialogue within the UofM community.

Collaborating with the Duderstadt Video Center, the project aims to engage audiences across campuses, including CAPS and wellness initiatives, extending its reach to Eastern and Washtenaw Campuses. The Duderstadt’s resources are free of charge, allowing us to do this project innovatively, by integrating technology into live theater, enhancing accessibility, and audience engagement. The use of the Video Studio ensures high-quality production, and live-streaming broadens accessibility.

The project’s benefits include enhanced community engagement, innovative use of technology, and a broad educational impact. While facing logistical challenges, such as seamlessly integrating technology and effective outreach, the critical budget requirement is central to the project’s success.

With additional funding support, Every Brilliant Thing has the potential to create a lasting impact, fostering conversations about mental health and expanding its reach beyond the university.

“Things get better. They might not always get brilliant. But they get better.” – EBT

We are committed to the success of Every Brilliant Thing and look forward to an opportunity to create a lasting impact within the SMTD and the broader campus community.