Hamilton Gibson (HG) Productions will present “Every Brilliant Thing” on Sept. 13, 14, 15, 20, and 21 in the Warehouse Theatre in Wellsboro.
“Every Brilliant Thing” is a funny and heart-warming one-man play inspired by a seven-year-old boy whose mother tries to end her life. He starts a list of all the brilliant things in the world worth living for and leaves it on her pillow.
Written by English playwright and director Duncan Macmillan, the play charts the journey of that list through the son who proceeds to tell a story that spans nearly six decades and includes several life-changing events, starting with a young boy’s eye-opening first brush with death (his childhood dog), evoking laughter and tears in equal measure.
Headlining Hamilton-Gibson’s production of “Every Brilliant Thing” is Thomas Putnam, HG’s artistic director.
“The experience of working on a one-person play, “Underneath the Lintel” in 2008, was so powerful and life-changing that I immediately began looking for another one,” said Putnam. “I worked on Lintel for nearly a year; I’m not very fast with memorization. Investing that amount of time on one script meant that it had to be a mighty good one.
“During the past ten years, HG’s Artistic Planning Committee considered a few other full-length solo plays but none seemed right. In 2018, I came across a new title and, as usual, when I saw the words ‘one-person play’ got my hopes up. Coincidentally, Linda Iseri, another member of the committee that was reading plays to help establish the 2019 season, came across ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ and even ordered a script. Both of us knew immediately it was a play we had to do,” Putnam said.
“I am drawn to plays that welcome exploration and marination; ones you can read, dig into, examine, argue with and soak in. ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ is such a play. One person tells the story of his family, himself and mother and father, who are all affected by mental illness one way or another. Out of context this might sound heavy and depressing; it is neither. Definitely moving and tender, it is delightfully fun and playful, due in part to the structure of the production, which at times includes improvisation and invites audience members to be part of the story. Of course there is no pressure to participate, but the play is written in such a way that it is a safe place to be and everyone can relax as they explore what could be a difficult topic,” said Putnam.
“I’ve seen three different productions of this play. Each one has been distinctly different but all were very effective. Each solo actor approaches it slightly different and that makes it fun,” he noted.
There will be talkbacks following each performance. Audience members are welcome to stay and discuss what they just experienced.
Even though Putnam is the only person on stage during the show, there are others who are an integral part of this production. Barbara Biddison has been helping Putnam for the past two months with line memorization. Griffin Brown is creating the sound track and running lights and sound; music plays a big role in the play and in the lives of the family members. Tech advisor is Gabe Hakvaag. As the stage manager, Linda Iseri is responsible for everything that happens backstage for each performance. Both Iseri and Biddison attend each rehearsal to offer Putnam suggestions and feedback.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 13 and 14 and Sept. 20 and 21, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Warehouse Theatre at 3 Central Ave. in Wellsboro. Seating is in the round and audience members choose their own seats.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children under 18. Reservations are recommended. To reserve seats, call (570) 724-2079 or visit https://hamiltongibson.ticketleap.com.
Sponsors are Drs. Tina Tolins and Grady Gafford; Lee and Janet Bellinger; and the United Methodist Church of Wellsboro.