Battle Ground High School English teacher Stephan “Cash” Henry will perform on stage for the first time in nine years for an original play called Every Brilliant Thing, written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe.
The play is a one-man show about a little boy who writes a list called “Every Brilliant Thing” after his mother’s first suicide attempt, depicting the journey of his and the mother’s mental health. It will be directed by Desiree “Desi” Roy, a former student of Henry’s who graduated in theater from Western Washington University. She has fond memories of his class.
“His class was wonderful,” Roy said. “He’s actually the one who got me started in theater when I was in his English class. He encouraged me to audition for Much Ado About Nothing after reading it aloud. When I got casted and performed in that, I took some more of his drama classes (which got me more comfortable on stage) and I just auditioned for every show after that.”
Audience members will be an integral part of the play itself. They will be used as characters and guided by the narrator, Henry’s character. He wants to make the process as easy as possible so they don’t feel any pressure or stress, describing it as a “communal piece of theater.” The role is also meant to be flexible for whoever participates.
“One of the wonderful things about how Duncan and Jonny wrote this piece is that it’s designed to be played by anyone of any gender,” Henry said. “The piece is written in such a way that whatever actor is taking on the role of the narrator can change and shift things around to make it fit their age. For instance, since I’m 55, I was 7 (years old) in 1973, so when I talk about my journey, it starts in 1973. Someone in their 30s could play this role and start their journey in the 1990s.”
The Trevor Project will also play an important role in the show. All donations will go to the nonprofit organization founded in 1998 that focuses primarily on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQIA teens. The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or agender.
Roy came upon the organization when she was doing research on suicide rates. She found the rate of suicide is much higher in that community, especially among the transgender population. She also has friends in the community who lost their lives to suicide, so she felt The Trevor Project would be the best cause to donate to.
According to statistics Roy found, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24, with people in the LGBTQIA population being five times more likely to take their own lives than their heterosexual peers. She also found a study where 40% of trans adults attempted suicide, and in 92% of cases, that happened before the age of 25.
Henry wanted to participate in the play not only to help a former student he cares about, but also to serve as an ally to the community.
“My sister is LGBTQIA, as well as a number of other family members, so I strongly believe in supporting people no matter what their sexual or non-sexual orientation is,” Henry said. “People are people, and everybody deserves to be respected, loved and cared for as they are.”
Guests will either be required to show a vaccine card or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. Masks are also required.
The show will be performed on Oct. 22 and 23, as well as Nov. 12 and 13. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and curtains will open at 7 p.m. in the Moulton Falls room at the Battle Ground Community Center. Tickets are available online at ebtshow.eventbrite.com. The show is free, but donations are welcome.
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