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Arts Post
Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 10/07/2011

For Steve Jobs monologuist, the show must go on


Mike Daisey in “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” (Kevin Berne)

When Mike Daisey opens his one-man show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” at the Public Theater in New York next week, he expects that things could get tense.

“People will be coming to the theater with a variety of feelings about Steve Jobs, most of which they will not have worked out themselves yet,” he says. “We haven't had the time to sit down and think about the person who made the devices that affect our life.”

Daisey feels the same way. Though he’s been considering the late Apple co-founder’s legacy since he debuted his monologue in 2010 (it came to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre last March), when Jobs died on Wednesday, Daisey found out about the loss the same way so many others did: Online, in front of his MacBook Pro.

“Something like 20 minutes after they announced it on the wires, the New York Times asked me to write an op-ed. So I was thrust very quickly into thinking about his death in the context of the world,” Daisey says. “In a lot of ways, the reality of it on a human level hasn't really sunk in. I think that's true for a lot of people for someone they feel a close connection to but don't really know. His role in our lives is a significant one, but it's really the role of these devices that we use so intimately.”

Daisey’s show is about Jobs and industrial design, but it’s really about the way that Americans have no idea how the devices we use on a daily basis are created — and how the manufacturing of the most beloved products can exploit workers in Asia. Though he’s a self-proclaimed Apple “fanboy,” Daisey’s trip to a Foxconn manufacturing plant in China, where he met workers who have been maimed by iPhone manufacturing machinery, changes his tone (Foxconn’s founder lauded Steve Jobs as a “great friend” in a statement yesterday).

“It's absurd to live in a world where you don't know where things come from,” Daisey says. “It's a disgrace to the memory of Steve Jobs. The story of how something is made is an integral part of the design of that thing.”

Wrote Peter Marks, of the performance at Woolly Mammoth: “Jobs, Daisey tells us, ‘is so good at making us need things we never knew we wanted.’ And this agitated spinner of spoken arias has a gift for stories we didn’t know we needed to hear.”

Daisey says that although ticket sales at the Public have been brisk, he did not get a boost in sales from the news of Jobs’s passing. He says that even though the show is about more than just Jobs, he knows that his death will affect every part of the monologue.

“Steve Jobs has always had a sort of fantastic predilection for unflinching honesty,” Daisey says. “I was fortunate enough to meet him years ago, and I hope the work that I create on stage will continue to have that penetrating light.”

By  |  12:53 PM ET, 10/07/2011

 
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