Me, My Stuff and I

barry smith
photo by derek skalko
There is a line in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George where an old woman reflects that the world as she knows it is continually fading and disappearing all the time. She commands her son, an artist, to “draw it all” in a vain attempt to capture her existence and reality as she knows it. With the advent of cameras and video cameras, it has become increasingly easier for individuals to document the momentous moments in their lives. Barry Smith’s show Me, My Stuff and I, which plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival, is an exploration of one man’s quest to keep record of all his memories in an attempt to feel whole and to help inform his future self about his past to attain a deeper understanding of himself.
Essentially, Me, My, Stuff and I, is a PowerPoint presentation that strives, through hundreds of photographs, memorabilia mostly from elementary school, and short vintage video clips from the 1980s, to fill in the baby book which Smith’s mother left mostly blank. Since Smith is an engaging speaker and his jokes accentuate the experience naturally, I found myself completely drawn in to this man’s story.
There is a website called Awkward Family Photos, and Me, My Stuff and I is like a dramatization of this concept, where the captions never miss their mark. Yet, the most fascinating aspect of this show is how self-aware Smith is and how the show is as much about analyzing why he is driven to document every inch of his life, and how this need informs his sense of self, and why some feel the need to save and savour every moment of their lives before they slip away. As someone whose biggest regret is always not taking enough photographs, and who has an entire filing cabinet filled with “stuff” from my first birthday cards to the last programme from the last show I saw, I completely relate to Smith’s quests for self preservation. I watched this show in envious fascination. I don’t think everyone will have the same reaction, but if you enjoy hearing humorous anecdotes about growing up in the Mississippi Delta and looking through old photographs of people you don’t know, this may be just the show for you!

Me, My Stuff and I plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place) at the following times:

Mon, July 5 2:45 PM
Tue, July 6 7:00 PM
Thu, July 8 9:45 PM
Fri, July 9 1:45 PM
Sun, July 11 3:30 PM
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.  

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