Earlier today it was revealed that some elements of Mike Daisey’s show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, appear to have been fabricated. As a result, This American Life has retracted the episode that used Daisey’s work as the basis for their show, leaving many to wonder if Daisey’s remaining theater performances will be cancelled.
We received statements from both the New York Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company that explain their support for Mike Daisey as well as the planned continuation of his show on Steve Jobs.
Daisey’s monologue is currently running at New York’s Public Theater. The run, which received very favorable reviews, ends this weekend with back-to-back performances on Saturday and Sunday. Daisey’s show will then start a one-month extended run at the Wooly Mammoth on March 21. Daisey’s monologue has been widely credited with kickstarting the current controversy about Apple and the tech industry’s supply chain in China. Investigations by the New York Times and This American Life brought the issue to mainstream attention.
Now that This American Life has retracted its broadcast into conditions at Apple’s factories based on Daisey’s performance, the continuation of the show appears to be in doubt. But both The Public Theater and Wooly Mammoth Theater have said they are fully behind the performer.
In a statement released to us, The Public Theater said:
In the theater, our job is to create fictions that reveal truth — that’s what a storyteller does, that’s what a dramatist does. THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS reveals, as Mike’s other monologues have, human truths in story form.
In this work, Mike uses a story to frame and lead debate about an important issue in a deeply compelling way. He has illuminated how our actions affect people half-a-world away and, in doing so, has spurred action to address a troubling situation. This is a powerful work of art and exactly the kind of storytelling that The Public Theater has supported, and will continue to support in the future.
Mike is an artist, not a journalist. Nevertheless, we wish he had been more precise with us and our audiences about what was and wasn’t his personal experience in the piece.
The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. also let us know that they plan to have Daisey perform his show this summer.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is proud to have hosted the “birth” performance and a highly successful run of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a daring work of theatre that opened people’s eyes to some of the real working conditions in Chinese factories where high-tech products are manufactured–conditions which have been documented by subsequent journalistic accounts in The New York Times and other sources. It’s a core value of Woolly to present works that spark conversation around topics of socio-political importance, and we’re proud to have played a part in bringing these issues to national attention. We look forward to welcoming Mike back for an encore performance of the show this summer.
We reached out to Mike as well to get his take on the news, but he declined to comment beyond the statement on his blog.
“I stand by my work,” he writes. “My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity.”