Mike Daisey, the monologuist whose tale of visiting Apple factories in China was revealed to have been partially fabricated, has written a blog post apologizing to, well, pretty much everyone: His audiences, his colleagues in theater, journalists he lied to and human-rights advocates whose jobs may have been made harder by his deceit.
Daisey will also host a public forum at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company on March 27 at 7 p.m., to address D.C. audiences’ questions and concerns. Woolly produced Daisey’s show, “The Agony and the Esctasy of Steve Jobs” in 2011, and will be remounting the production this summer.
It’s been more than a week since the public-radio program “This American Life” revealed Daisey’s manipulation of the truth — will this final mea culpa be the end of his scandal?
In a full-episode retraction on March 16, “This American Life” revealed the falsehoods in Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” Daisey defended himself by saying that even though some anecdotes weren’t true, the work spoke to a higher truth. One theater professional called for a boycott of his work until he apologized fully.
Though Daisey apologized on the show and on his Web site, his latest apology goes on much longer and deeper into his motivations. “This is not the place for me to try and explain my good intentions,” wrote Daisey. “We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. In fact, I think it might lead to where I’m sitting right now.”
In his apology, Daisey pointed out that several of his works have dealt with the blurry line between truth and fiction. He cited a snippet from his monologue “How Theater Failed America,” saying, “Looking for the truth: that rare, random descent, like a feather across the back of your hand.”
Though it wasn’t mentioned in his apology, Daisey has admitted to falsifying or exaggerating details of his work before, in a 2006 monologue called “Truth,” which addressed famous literary liars like James Frey. In an excerpt that could have come from any recent story about Daisey, but instead came from a 2006 review of the show, the New York Times’ Jason Zinoman wrote: “He admits that he once fabricated a story because it ‘connected’ with the audience. After telling this lie over and over again, it became so integrated into the architecture of his piece that it became impossible to remove or, perhaps, to distinguish from what really happened. Mr. Daisey seems embarrassed by this confession, but he also pursues the issue further. Is lying acceptable when in service of a greater truth? What does truth mean in the context of art?”
In Daisey’s apology, truth in art means that going forward, he will be “humble before the work,” he wrote. “I am sorry for where I have failed. I will look closer, be more patient, and listen more clearly.”
Now that he’s apologized, Daisey can move forward from a scandal that wasn’t likely to hurt his career too badly to begin with. Though some in the theater community were outraged by “This American Life’s” revelations, others, such as Woollly Mammoth, have stood by Daisey. The apology is a chance for him to get back to what he’s always done: Not journalism, but theater.
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