TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO SEE MIKE DAISEY’S GAME CHANGING ONE-MAN SHOW
BY HENRY EDWARDS
Activist theater is specifically designed to effect social change, and no better example exists than The Public Theater’s current resident, “master storyteller” Mike Daisey’s “The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs.”
After a critically acclaimed, commercially successful run at last fall, the Public reopened Daisey's one-man eye opener for an additional five-weeks through March 4. "Agony/Ecstasy" subsequently was extended another two weeks and will close on March 18.
Daisey’s monologues typically weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism and unscripted performance to tell stories that cut to the bone, exposing secret histories and unexpected connections.
In "Agony/'Ecstasy," the monologist reveals he has been a lifelong Apple superfan. He then goes on to tell how the former CEO of Apple and his obsessions have shaped our lives, sketching in highlights of Jobs’s life and relating how Apple remains devoted to creating new products and reinventing old ones to maximize profability.
Forty percent of the world’s consumer electronics products are assembled in factories belonging to the Taiwan-based company, Foxconn Technology, and after seeing some photos online from the inside of a plant that makes iPhones, Daisey recalls how he started to wonder about the people working there. Daisey's curiosity led him to fly to China and to pay a visit to Foxconn's gigantic factory in Longhua, Shenzhen, where literally hundreds of thousands of workers toil day and night assembling the latest consumer electronics toys.
“Agony/Ecstasy” details the horrifying working conditions that confront the workers Daisey encountered on his pilgramage.
As his performance nears its conclusion, the writer/performer points out that a January 25 front-page story in The New York Times confirmed the observations in his piece.
The Times reported: “In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
“However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied asonerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems. Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they canhardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsifiedrecords, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
“More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhonescreens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning."
Thankfully, Daisey not only preaches to a choir of the concerned, but he also urges his audiences to take action, and upon leaving the theatre, audience members receive a print out telling them how to e-mail Apple directly.
It's exactly the right thing to do.
In addition, the monologist recently notified subscribers to his e-mail mailing list that he has released “Agony/Ecstasy” in an open-source format that anyone can download, enabling the one-man play to be performed royalty-free, anywhere, anytime, by anyone who's in the mood to spread Daisey's message.
The results appear to have been spectacular. In the first week alone, Daisey reports the script has been downloaded over 60,000 times, an extraordinarily large number for a dramatic work. No new American play has sold anything like it over the last decade.
Congratulations to Daisey for a job well done and to The Public Theater for providing a home for this powerful work of personal expression.