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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Gabriella+Bellomy+in+%E2%80%9CEvery+Brilliant+Thing%E2%80%9D
Baylee Parsons
Gabriella Bellomy in “Every Brilliant Thing”

For the first time in 20 years, the Marshall School of Theatre and Dance presented an entirely student-led production within the walls of the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

“Every Brilliant Thing,” which ran Feb. 19-20, tells the story of a young girl who begins writing a list of all the most wonderful aspects of life in response to her mother’s depression, only to find that this list transforms her outlook on life through adulthood.

With the play being a one-person show, only three students worked together to bring the production to life.

“The three of us have done every bit of this,” stage manager Seth Cunningham said. “We cultivated every prop; we focused the lights; we hung stuff; we set up every bit of the technical process.”

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Director Jimi Lee pursued this project to contribute to his capstone. Having been in several shows himself, this was Lee’s first time directing a show at Marshall.

“I knew I wanted to direct a piece,” Lee said. “There were a couple of shows I was interested in, and this one just made the most sense. It was subject matter that I thought was relevant and necessary for us to produce a piece on.”

With the play having themes of suicide and depression, narrator and lone actress Gabriella Bellomy said she and the crew had to broach the topics with sensitivity.

“We tried to separate our individual selves from it enough to where it wouldn’t be mentally damaging,” she said. “We wanted to be sensitive to the topic and add the nuance into it that I thought was necessary.”

As for the message she wanted audience members to take away from the play, Bellomy said, “There’s always some reason to keep living, no matter what stage of life you’re in.”

“Things may not always get brilliant, but they get better,” Lee added. “It’s about showing people that there are other people that have had these feelings, there are other people that have fought this fight, and we’re here to support you.”

While its overall message remained the same, the team had to make some changes in order to fit their vision.

Originally a one-man, British-based show, some stage directions and lines were adjusted for it “to be both a female-led show and also relevant to this region,” Cunningham said.

“A lot of that comes from just trying to be as truthful as we can with this piece,” Lee added, “because that’s what the audience is going to connect to: that sense of genuine nature and truthful experience.”

With an audience capacity of 50, the black box theater—which Cunningham is typically used as a classroom—allowed Bellomy to interact closely with audience members.

“You feel just, like, enveloped in the space,” Cunningham said, “and like, ‘I’m doing the show now; I’m part of the show.”

The production team accredited Bellomy with much of the play’s creative liberties, despite this being the largest project of her career thus far.

Previously playing minor roles in shows, Bellomy said, “I knew that this was a challenge, but it was a great challenge for me.”

With the play only having one actor, Lee said good casting was “more paramount than ever.”

“We took a risk on Gabby,” Lee said, “and we would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Baylee Parsons can be reached at [email protected].

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