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Theatrethreesixty deals with depression – with a little help from their Befrienders

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Laugh, applaud, be reminded of the million things that make life worth living. Then on the way out pick up some potentially life-saving information on suicide prevention. Theatrethreesixty’s Every Brilliant Thing helps Befrienders KL – and audiences – reach out.

(Main image: Threesixty Director Christopher Ling. Photo by Fay Rhatmanee)

Speaking, as he does, directly to the audience, protagonist (played by Qahar Aqilah) says, “If you live a long life and get to the end of it without ever once having felt crushingly depressed, then you haven’t been paying attention.”

Every Brilliant Thing compels you to pay attention. The protagonist, a little kid at the start of the play, lives with his mother’s depression and multiple suicide attempts. In spite of this he fails to recognize signs when he himself becomes depressed as an adult.

“Heart-wrenching, hilarious”

Already a hit in several countries, Every Brilliant Thing has amassed glowing reviews. In it, playwright Duncan McMillan deals with this heavy – and to many people scary – topic with sensitivity and humour.

“I took a lot of notes,” says Befrienders volunteer Kenny Lim at the no-frills preview in theatrethreesixty’s home at Tommy Le Baker. Befrienders runs a 24-hour support hotline, similar to the Samaritans overseas. For decades Kenny has been picking up the phone to lend an ear to help frightened, sad, distressed, and often desperate callers. Among the parts of the play that resonated with him, a plea to the media to reconsider the way in which they report suicides.

Director Christopher Ling himself has lived with depression so this project is deeply personal. He was drawn to the way the issues are addressed and the way the protagonist pulls audiences into his world, bringing them face to face with a scared child determined to save his damaged mum, an angry teenager resentful of her selfishness, a bookish college student giddily in love, a husband who doesn’t know himself anymore.

And then what?

Beautiful, funny, emotional and powerful, don’t be surprised if the play shakes something loose in you. In anticipation, Theatrethreesixty’s Executive Producer, Nandang Abdul Rahman, contacted Befrienders with some outreach ideas. Nan and Kenny discussed several ways to involve audiences further and this what they came up with:

  1. Keep the conversation going

Someone from Befrienders will be available after the show on Friday 11th and the matinee on Sunday 13th November. They will talk about Befrienders and about supporting a suicidal person. Audience members are also welcome to approach the volunteers directly with any questions.

  1. Know where to go and who to ask

At every performance there will be printed information at the door for you to pick up and take home. This includes postcards with information on depression and Befrienders’ services, so pick up a handful and pass them on to friends and family as well.

  1. Be part of the solution

Did Every Brilliant Thing inspire you to become a real, live life-saving hero? At the theatre exit you will find a sign-up sheet for anyone interested in becoming a Befrienders’ volunteer.

Plus it’s a wonderful play

Still a relatively new company, theatrethreesixty quickly became known for its gutsy choices and riveting productions. With Every Brilliant Thing you can expect yet another gift to theatregoers; a play that is intelligent, moving and unforgettable.

Don’t miss Every Brilliant Thing, playing from 10 to 20 November at theatrethreesixty at Tommy Le Baker in Kuala Lumpur.

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.