The Agony & Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs Goes Open Source


Mike Daisey performing
Mike Daisey performing "The Agony & Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs"

Playwright Mike Daisey has released the transcript of his influential monologue, The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs, under a royalty-free license.

The move will allow Daisey’s hit play about the conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories to be performed anywhere in the world without restriction.Indeed, Daisey claims that more than 500 groups and individuals in 13 countries have contacted him because they want to stage it.

“No one has done this before,” said Daisey in an email to Cult of “Theater doesn’t do a lot of things like this, and certainly not with a transcript that could have been sold — I had offers from two publishers — for real money.”

Daisey said there’s interest from three major theaters in Germany, a mid-size theater in Spain and two in France. There’s an actor who is planning to perform it in Kurdistan, a group in Nova Scotia that is adapting it, and a group in New York planning to turn it into a full-on play.

“There’s a lot,” says Daisey. “It’s going to be interesting.

Daisey has been performing  The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs for more than a year in 18 cities around the country (Read our review). It just finished an extended run at New York’s Public Theater and is headed to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington DC.

The play has received favorable reviews from critics and widespread media attention. It was turned into a powerful segment on NPR’s “This American Life”, and preceded investigative reports by the New York Times detailing the exploitative and hazardous work conditions in factories where products for Apple and others are assembled.

Daisey has said his play has hit a note like non of his others. Indeed, the demand for him to perform it prompted him to release the transcript. The negative attention appears to be having an effect. Last week, Apple hired the non-profit Fair Labor Association to audit its plants and make public its findings, and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has pledged to reform conditions in the Asian supply chain.

Daisey’s transcript can be downloaded from this page (scroll down to the download link). “We’re asking people to link to the download page, as I’ll be adding translations, etc. over time,” explained Daisey.

  • Nudsui

    i know gay isnt a bad thing, but this is clearly the gayest play or monologue or whatever i’ve ever seen. Why would i pay to go and see some fat guy behind a desk bitching about how some dead guy abuses chinese workers? 

    also, why would i want to sit there and listen to this guy spitting out false information bored out of my mind?

    what a dumb, attention seeking show

  • TheMacAdvocate

    You mean he wasn’t able to option it to a major studio for a couple hundo thou?

    I don’t know how you ended up in bed with this guy, Leander. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks it was a low point for the site.

  • Mike Rathjen

    It is available to listen to for free, from “This American Life” episode 454.


  • Frank928

    Or, perhaps cultofmac continues to report on Mr Daisey’s work, because… wait for it… he’s right.I wonder how many who are questioning his position have actually been to the factory gates, interviewed workers first hand, or walked through the factories as a business prospect?And to everyone who says: well it’s not just Apple, there’s Dell, Microsoft, Amazon… I agree, and shame on them as well. But just because others are doing it, doesn’t excuse Apple. In fact, Apple who has asked us to Think Different, and perhaps pay a bit more, should not be upset (or even surprised) if we ask them to act in a leadership position in working toward resolving the inhuman treatment of Foxconn’s employees.

    Should be interested to see the ABC Nightline report tonight, although I suspect the producer got nothing more then a white glove tour of the best possible views of a ‘prepped’ facility. I also hope to have a chance to see The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Speaking of Mr. Jobs, it’s ironic, that in his autobiography one his proudest moments was when he showed off the Fremont, CA factory to his Dad. From what we have been told of what goes on now in the factories that build Apple’s (yes, and others) products… not much to be proud about now. Hopefully in time, with Apple leading the way, conditions will improve.

  • Tiby Csapo

    Why is this tool still being given the time of day? As soon as I see his picture I want to leave the site.

  • End

  • End

    … everyone is putting apple on the hot seat…WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE COMPANIES??? Scrutinize them as well!

  • TheMacAdvocate

    I downloaded it and I’m glad I read it. It validates every word of criticism I’ve leveled against it. I had an idea going into it that it was going to play fast and loose with the facts. That’d be true if this “one man show” had many facts. Here’s the sum total of the first hand accounting made by the “performer”:

    -interviews (made through an interpreter) at the Foxconn factory gate with “groups of twos and threes and fours” of workers that want to talk to a large Westerner in his loud Hawaiian shirt. Included were (an unspecified number of) workers who were 12, 13 and 14. I wonder why none of them are happy. Self-selection bias? This is art, people.

    -visits to 10×12 dorms that slept 15

    -interviews with the members of an underground union, whose membership includes a woman who was allegedly blacklisted and a man whose hand was crushed making iPads

    That’s it. No – I’m not shitting you. Foxconn is a factory employing upwards of 400,000 people. The “transcript” runs 60 pages and alternates between sparsely observed and thoroughly embellished accounts of the times spent in-factory and mangled retellings of Apple’s history. All this is sprinkled with the time-honored cult characterizations of people who purchase Apple products. It’s totally OK though, because Mike’s one of us and he was fooled just like the rest of us iSheep.

    Underaged employment, work shifts spanning consecutive days – all of these things are obviously wrong. And wouldn’t you know it? Apple’s been documenting these shortcomings since 2007 in their own reporting. There will always be more work to be done, and Apple is right to be held to a standard (apparently, no one else in CE should – or maybe their names aren’t big enough to attract a real humanitarian like Mike Daisey’s attention) To paint the goings-on at Foxconn with a westerner’s brush is – to be kind – simplistic, especially from someone as ignorant as the author is of Chinese culture. In his own words: “I have only a passing familiarity with Chinese culture and to call what I have a passing familiarity is an insult to Chinese culture—I don’t know fuck-all about Chinese culture.” 

    Sound like just the type of guy we should all be hanging our perceptions on.

  • Killer_Kadoogan

    From the journalists point of view, it gets them more readers, and since when have most journalists cared about truth anyway? From the point of view of those who swallow this garbage and refuse to listen to anything else, it’s ‘cool’ to be one of the anti-Apple sheep, and if you can perceive yourself to be cool because you spout that opinion, well that matters much more than truth.

  • Killer_Kadoogan

    I haven’t seen a single person say it’s OK for Apple to do it because others are. The fact that you make that lazy straw man argument renders the rest of your post worthless.

  • FurryMoses

    Please explain to us how knowing about Chinese culture would change anything about this story. Please be specific, since that’s obviously not your specialty.

    One problem noted was that while Apple does produce reports, they don’t name any companies or factories, which means we don’t have any way of checking that they are actually doing anything. A little tiny problem, don’t you think?

  • TheMacAdvocate

    Since you totally nailed me about this “not being my specialty”, let me use the Daisey standard of specificity to which you’re currently subscribed. Only fair, no? How about we hear about: the standard of living in the areas around the areas from which Foxconn draws its labor, the average hourly wage of a factory employee in China or the average number of hours in a work week for a factory worker in Shenzhen?

    Some of these things, such as the conditions of villages around Foxconn, were mentioned in the ABC Nightline segment last night. Does a lot to explain the thousands of people queuing up in the employment lines every time Foxconn announces that they’re hiring.

    We know some specifics of what Apple does. We know they do audits – since 2007. We know the numbers of violations Apple’s Code of Conduct. We know they hired a respected outside entity to provide a third-party audit structure. We know that no one else in consumer electronics provides that degree of transparency. We know that Apple does more to address their “tiny little problem(s)”.

    If you don’t think that after reading through 65 pages of screed regarding Apple’s conduct in China, that this doesn’t “change anything about this story”, you should ask yourself why that is.

  • ddevito

    Is that Steve Jobs or Phil Schiller?


    Mike Daisey sits at a desk and mostly go on and on about, well, cognitive dissonance.  I remember another guy who used to do this sort of thing.  At least Spalding Gray was funny…