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The Dark Side of Apple's Gadget Revolution

“Anyone who sees Mr. Daisey’s show—and anyone with a cellphone and a moral center should—will find it hard to forget the repercussions that our casual purchases can have in the lives of men and women (and children) half a world away.”  —Charles Isherwood, New York Times

The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a provocative play written and performed by Mike Daisey, is a journey into the life of a visionary man who changed the world—for better and for worse.

For two hours, Mr. Daisey is center stage, accompanied by only a glass of water and stories of the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, Inc. Behind him glows an expressive LED light board, whose manufacturing origins he has visited personally in China.

The sparse staging of the show is reminiscent of the simple man-behind-a-desk performances of minimalist actor and storyteller Spalding Gray. In this setting, Daisey unfurls a tale of his experiences visiting the special economic zone in China where Apple products are manufactured. As Daisey takes us deeper into the creation of the gadget in our pocket, and the lives of the people behind it, we begin to wonder if upgrading our models the next chance we have is really the right thing to do.

The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is a one-man show that’s about much more than one man. Through theater and gonzo journalism, Daisey takes the audience on a trip that has the potential to change the world.

“This is a monologue—a single voice telling a story of a single experience,” writes Daisey in a letter to the audience handed out at the end of the performance. “But if I have opened a door for you, consider opening a door for others. We do not like to think about our relationship with China and the true cost of our labor, but that silence can only exist if we are complicit with it. Talking about it, thinking about it when making purchasing decisions, and understanding it is not just symbolic. In a world of silence, speaking itself is action. It can be the first seeds of actual change. Do no be afraid to plant them.”

The show has been extended for five weeks at The Public Theater in New York City from January 31 to March 4, 2012.

Find out more and buy tickets here.

Read a review in the New York Times.

Listen to an excerpt from the play that aired on Pubic Radio's This American Life.

Jennifer Prediger

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