That might sound like a lot for a play and a Q&A session, but think of it this way: At the Apple store, $100 gets you basically nowhere, unless you’re in the market for a few sets of headphones.
Daisey’s shined-up show subtracts about six minutes of what Woolly describes as “contested material” and adds 12 minutes that deal directly with the controversy surrounding Daisey’s reporting.
“Our approach going in is to be really open and candid [to] any and all questions that might come,” said producing dramaturg Ronee Penoi. “The goal is really to give the audience a chance to respond. . . . We’re all prepared for whatever may come our way.”
A quick recap: Daisey appeared on NPR’s “This American Life” in January, performing an excerpt from “Steve Jobs,” which ran at Woolly in spring 2011. The monologue turned out to contain fabricated sections about Daisey’s interactions with workers in China who make Apple products. “This American Life” subsequently retracted the story because, as Ira Glass wrote on the “This American Life” blog, the program could not “vouch for its truth.” Glass wrote that “Daisey lied . . . during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast.”
Outrage ensued. Apologies were demanded. The Internet exploded like the Fourth of July sky. Also, it was fantastic PR.
Woolly Mammoth already had Daisey’s show slotted to return this summer, a decision it announced Feb. 16 in the aftermath of Jobs’s death but before the news of the retraction. The Q&A session was finalized later. Although post-performance discussions aren’t new territory for Woolly, this case, with the two-for-one of high-profile guests and the charged subject matter, is unique.
Penoi says the Woolly team isn’t concerned about hostile reactions from audience members. “What I’ve been very passionate about is finding a more expansive language for how we can talk about what happened and approaching it from as many viewpoints as possible.”
In a phone interview, Daisey said that he hopes the forum will focus on the meat of the monologue: namely, labor conditions in China and the “real cost of our electronics.” As for the controversy, “I’m certainly not avoiding it,” he said, but “I don’t know if the world wants another public forum” on the issue. Nor does he think the audience is “owed” further explanation. “I never owed anyone anything.”
Tuesday-Aug. 5, 641 D St. NW. www.
Studio Theatre gets controversial
‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’
“I hate Andrew Jackson,” said Christopher Gallu, one of three directors of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at Studio Theatre. “I told these guys” — he means his directing partners-in-crime, Keith Alan Baker and Jennifer Harris — “as soon as we started doing research, I was disgusted with the fact that he’s on the $20 bill. It makes me ill.”