Through the month of March, Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company is presenting “Every Brilliant Thing,” a one-character play that looks at the issues surrounding suicide. Each Thursday during the run of the show, the company is hosting post-performance discussion sessions in which audience members can talk about their experiences with depression and suicide. Clinicians from McLean Hospital are taking part in these sessions, working with individual audience members who have experienced the suicide of a loved one.
Alan E. Fruzzetti, PhD, director of the 3East Boys Intensive Program at McLean Hospital, will facilitate the discussion following the Thursday, March 22 performance. He hopes that these sessions “will help the audience know a little bit more about mental health and problems like suicidality and help reduce stigma toward people with psychological and psychiatric problems.”
Fruzzetti’s colleague Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, program director of McLean’s Child and Adolescent OCD Institute, will take part in the session following the March 27 show. She hopes that the discussions will provide social support for audience members. “I think part of my role is to help to open up a space in which people can talk about, ask questions regarding, or share stories of mental health issues in their lives or the lives of their family,” Coyne said. “I would hope that these discussion sessions would play a role in helping people feel that they are not alone—coping with loved ones who have struggled with depression or suicidality can be so isolating.”
In addition to the post-play discussion groups, “Every Little Thing” uses audience participation to explore depression and suicide. During the play, which stars actress Adrianne Krstansky as a woman whose mother died by suicide, audience members are called on to read lines from the script and even go on stage to act out scenes. The goal is to create an environment where the issues surrounding suicide can be presented openly and honestly, helping audience members heal from a traumatic event.
For Fruzzetti and Coyne, contributing to “Every Brilliant Thing” presents an important opportunity to educate the public about mental illness and provide support. “Any time we can empathize with people having real experiences that challenge their mental or psychological well-being, it is an opportunity to reduce stigma toward others, and to become more comfortable with emotional and psychological distress that we might encounter in our lives with friends, family, or ourselves,” Fruzzetti said.
“Every Brilliant Thing” is being presented by the SpeakEasy Stage Company at Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. Ticket prices start at $25, and performances continue through March 31. Call 617.933.8600 or visit speakeasystage.com for details.