As the school year wraps up, one of the final Performing Arts productions is Directors’ Workshop: an annual opportunity for two Concord Academy seniors to direct a play of their choice. This year, one of the directors was Liam O’Brien ’23. Liam opted to direct Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan—a traditionally one-man drama following the narrator’s life as they grow up and create a list of every brilliant thing they can think of. The show incorporates audience input and interaction, chuckle-worthy humor, and overall is a meaningful story that often brings the audience to tears. Liam explained that he chose this play because he wanted to direct something entertaining and unique that still held an important message.
Danaliz Estevez ’26—an audience member—commented on how she especially enjoyed the interactive aspect of the play since it is not common to have random audience members participate multiple times and even have speaking roles. She elaborated that Ryan Zhao ’26 was definitely her favorite included audience member; he played the main character’s father in one of the two performances. “He [Ryan] was making things up like ‘the power of friendship’ and it made everyone laugh,” Danaliz stated. She further noted she truly needed that good laugh amidst all the crying.
The show was a success from the performer’s perspective as well. Lira Schwab ’26 was one of the four members of the Every Brilliant Thing cast, as Liam chose to split the one character’s role into four parts. She stated that the tears she saw from the audience by the end made all her hard work worth it. Lira revealed, “That’s really why I act, to make people feel things deeply.” She expressed great pride for all who were involved, especially toward her fellow cast members Avery Kunchala ’24, Willow Simon ’24, and Caroline Shih ’25.
Of course, this stellar response from viewers and participants could only stem from the hard work and relentless preparations made by the director, actors, and tech crew. Liam explained that directing was quite a different experience than acting. He explained, “It is just as rewarding, but it is a different type of work and process.” However, it clearly worked out with the show’s success and feedback from the audience and cast alike. Though Lira described rehearsals—and especially the memorization aspect—to be somewhat difficult, she also strongly believed it was entirely worthwhile, especially because of the people she had the opportunity to meet there. Lira stated, “They [the other actors and Liam] are all such wonderful creatives and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside them.”
The tech crew behind the curtains was what kept the show running. Olivia Kim ’26, the assistant set designer, commented on how much she loved the atypical setup for Every Brilliant Thing which included the seats being arranged around the theater perimeter and the mix of theatric lighting and lamps. Furthermore, she explained that rehearsals were long and strenuous at times, but, once again, the people made up for it. “Liam was a great director to work with and the actors and tech people were really fun—there was always lots of respect and love in rehearsal,” Olivia said.
If there’s one thing that Every Brilliant Thing speaks to, it is the gratitude expressed for the simple and the complex things that exist brilliantly in the world—the things that bring us joy and make us feel. In this light, it is an understatement to say that this year’s show was nothing short of brilliant.