Duncan Macmillan is an English playwright and director who first rose to prominence through the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, winning two awards in its inaugural year for his play Monster, which was also nominated for a TMA Best New Play Award and a Manchester Evening News Best New Play Award. He is most noted for his plays Lungs, People, Places and Things, Every Brilliant Thing, and the stage adaptation of the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which he co-adapted and co-directed with Robert Icke. Macmillan’s play Lungs had a major revival at the Old Vic Theatre in 2019, starring Matt Smith and Claire Foy. He co-created and wrote the 2020 BBC television drama series Trigonometry with Effie Woods.
Every Brilliant Thing was first produced by Paines Plough and Pentabus, enjoyed sold-out runs at three consecutive Edinburgh Festivals and continues to tour worldwide. During its run at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York, it was filmed for broadcast on HBO (first aired in 2016). It is an interactive monologue, performed with audience participation. Its original performer was the comedian Jonny Donahoe. Macmillan has described his reason for writing the play as a desire to communicate to people “You’re not alone, you’re not weird, you will get through it, and you’ve just got to hold on. That’s a very uncool, unfashionable thing for someone to say, but I really mean it. I didn’t see anyone discussing suicidal depression in a useful or interesting or accurate way.”