Finders, keepers. Right?
Well, adults will likely respond with, “It depends.”
OK. This is something that was obviously discarded … but it was seven meticulously cared-for photo albums of a family … but the person who found them put a lot of work into them to create a play … but the person who threw them away may not have had the right to discard them.
Lawyers became involved and, in the end, James Long was left with a play that presents these moral and legal questions and more.
Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut is a one-man show that began with these fateful words, “Hey, forget about the cannibalism for now.”
He had been walking his dog when he found a suitcase full of albums. He left them there, since they did not belong to him, but returned after speaking with a partner about their next theatrical production (with the cannibalism theme).
“There were 40 years of history of this one family,” says Long over the phone. “Beautiful photos, an incredible amount of writing. These things were meticulously cared for.
“But someone threw them away. What could possibly have happened.”
Already partially rain-damaged, he retrieved the suitcase and worked with the albums for four weeks.
“I just wanted to discuss the photos and personal stories. I showed it to a workshop and all they wanted to know was the story of the people in the photographs.”
Long investigated further and, after a year, drew the attention of the family who wanted them back. It was a granddaughter, with addiction issues, who committed the “drive-by dumping” in that alley.
There were photos in there that the family never knew about and, besides, there were family rifts, an early death of a child and, really, their faces. They wanted their privacy.
“Screw you,” Long felt. “I found them and I worked on them for a year.”
This is out of character for Long, who respects his own privacy to the point that he doesn’t even have a Facebook page … odd for an actor.
With blurred-out faces, the play now examines the morality and legality of exposing the story of one family.
Publicizing the play, Long has had many conversations with journalists who deal with these issues every day: “The most common questions are, ‘If I find a book, what would I do?’ and ‘If you find my book, what would I do to prevent you from using it?'”
But is this entertainment?
“I’m wearing a bunny suit and dancing around,” says Long with a laugh.
Oh yeah, about the bunny suit: Long explains that there is an image of one person in a bunny suit, whom he never learned the identity of.
“It was Easter, 1978, and it was one of these little punctum points,” he says. Then to explain this meaning, he adds, “A punctum point is a little detail that you discover and the meaning just pops.”
It could be hands touching or someone looking in a slightly different direction.
With the guy in the bunny suit (and Long believes it is a man), the meaning of the angle of his head and his strange placement could change the “story” depending on who is wearing it.
So, there is a video component of the play that shows different people wearing the costume, performing memory exercises.
“It’s stunning,” says Long, putting aside the thought-provoking nature of the play for a moment. “It has really beautiful theatre design.”
Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut will be presented at the Old Fire Hall from Jan. 20 to 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office, Arts Underground and www.yukontickets.com.