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‘Brilliant’ North Okanagan show shines light on depression

Every Brilliant Thing plays July 18-Aug. 20 at Spallumcheen’s Caravan Farm Theatre
Dawn Petten (left) and Sheldon Elter alternate evenings as the only actor in the production Every Brilliant Thing that will run July 18-Aug. 20 at the Caravan Farm Theatre in Spallumcheen. (Contributed)

The first lick of an ice cream cone, things with stripes, the smell of old books, the colour yellow — the world is full of brilliant things. All we have to do is open our eyes, and our hearts, and let them into our lives.

Find joy in the little things this summer with Caravan Farm Theatre and Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing July 18 to Aug. 20.

Surrounded by nature on the beautiful Salmon River Road property, this intimate performance follows a child who creates a list of things that make life worth living for their mother who battles chronic depression.

“Over the course of their lifetime, they discover the transformative nature of positive thinking, about personal responsibility and what you can and can’t control,” says Estelle Shook, Caravan’s artistic director. “It inspires us all to find joy in the simple pleasures in life.”

Every Brilliant Thing is a play about depression — a subject not often discussed in social situations, but one that is becoming increasingly important to talk about. Through humour, playful interaction and masterful storytelling, the one cast member — played by Sheldon Elter and Dawn Petten on alternating nights — hosts the audience through an invigorating social experience.

As people across the country navigate the new normal, Shook says Every Brilliant Thing is the show that the community needs right now.

“This show is a social experience. It feels like going to a well-hosted dinner,” says Shook. “You’re taken care of as the host connects you with other people. In our case, the host connects you to this story.”

Before the show, audience members are given a numbered slip of paper with a word or phrase. As the character calls out the numbers, the audience reads out the “brilliant thing” on their card. And, with the help of the audience, this one-actor production welcomes other characters into the show.

“It’s beautiful how the actor incorporates the audience. It’s like a dinner party where the host asks one guest to cut peppers and another to move the chairs. You feel involved and responsible for the evening,” says Shook. “No matter how shy the audience member is, they’re handled with a lot of grace.”

Throughout the evening, DJ Brian Linds sets the tone with a jazz score. Shook says everyone is encouraged to arrive early to walk the gardens, enjoy the fields and forests, and talk with Linds about his impressive vinyl collection.

“We wanted to create an engaging atmosphere before and after the show to enhance the social atmosphere. If it feels like we are all re-learning how to be social, this play offers an opportunity to exercise that muscle,” says Shook. “It’s the perfect start to a season all about bringing the community together again.”

Tickets to Every Brilliant Thing are on sale now and range from pay-what-you-can pricing to $35. For more information about Caravan’s 2023 season or to purchase tickets, visit

READ MORE: North Okanagan farm theatre acts on bringing community together

READ MORE: Caravan Farm Theatre’s horse opera ready to ride in the North Okanagan

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