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Now more than ever do we see portrayals of mental health issues in media, thanks to the continued movement to end the stigma surrounding the subject. We see it tackled in TV shows, online videos, expounded in articles, among others. Even celebrities are speaking up about their personal battles.

Just as often, however, do we see it misrepresented.

But not for The Sandbox Collective’s first offering of the year.

Teresa Herrera takes on the lead role of Angela.

A local adaptation of Duncan MacMillan’s critically-acclaimed play, Every Brilliant Thing tells the story of a young girl named Angela, who “creates a list of things that make life worth living in order to inspire her clinically depressed mother.” This one-woman, interactive play stars Teresa Herrera.

We had the privilege of witnessing the performance ahead of its regular run, which will be on weekends from February 2-24 at the Maybank Performance Theater in BGC. Here’s what it gets right about mental health issues.

Anyone can suffer from it.

Depression chooses no one, regardless of age, gender, wealth, or upbringing. It can affect even the best of us such as Angela, who seemed like a fun-loving and adventurous child growing up. It can happen to fellow family members, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

It’s complex. 

Angela talks to her dad, with the assistance of an audience member.

In probably one of the play’s saddest moments, Angela calls her former guidance counselor to share that she’s sad. When asked why, she simply says, “I don’t know. I’m just sad.” This short yet remarkable sequence shows exactly why it’s challenging to deal with and address mental health issues. Even those who suffer from it have difficulty understanding it. Depression, anxiety, among many others are just as complex as the brain. There’s much that is still unknown.

People cope in different ways.

People cope with mental health issues in their own way. For Angela, this means revisiting an old habit that used to make her feel happy and talking about it to a long-time acquaintance. There’s not one cure-it-all medicine to take, but it is possible to cope.

It’s okay to get help. 

Angela asks for an audience member’s help to play as her dog’s veterinarian.

Whether it’s consulting an expert or participating in support groups like Angela did, the play imparts that the journey to getting better is not meant to be taken alone. It sends an encouraging message, too, that help is available and that it’s okay to seek for it.

Things do get better.

Dealing with mental health issues is not easy. With the love and support from family and friends, however, Angela shows us that through all the highs and lows, things do get better, and that it’s the brilliant things that make life worthwhile.

Every Brilliant Thing runs from February 2-24, Saturdays and Sundays, at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in BGC. Tickets—priced at P1,200 (VIP) and P1,000 (Regular)—are available for purchase at Ticket World and via 891 9999. For more updates, follow The Sandbox Collective on Facebook and Instagram

Images by Madel Crudo

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