The Agony & The Ecstasy of... Mike Daisey at Harbor Stage Company
By: Susan Blood, August 1, 2012
It was early March 2012. The newly founded Harbor Stage Company heard that Mike Daisey was going to make his now-infamous monologue, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, available for free to anyone, anywhere.
They like free—and they liked the piece. So they ran it by Jeff Zinn.
Zinn, who retired last fall after 23 years as the artistic director of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, is known not only for his theater chops, but for his addiction to shiny techno-gadgets. Zinn and Harbor Stage Company had been talking about a way to work together, and a story about our obsession with Apple and the human havoc that comes with creating our coveted devices was a perfect fit.
When Zinn downloaded the script, he noticed that not only is it free to perform, but the performer had the right to adapt it any way they wished. The wheels started turning.
A week later, says Zinn, “the Glass hit the fan on This American Life.”
For those who haven't heard, the Public Radio International show This American Life ran Daisey's monologue about terrible conditions in a Chinese factory that makes Apple products. A National Public Radio program, Planet Money, heard the story and decided to do some fact-checking of their own. They blew the cover on Daisey's liberties with the facts. After bringing Daisey back into the studio for an uncomfortable interview, This American Life later retracted the story.
“When the scandal broke, I started to think about how I might do the piece, but fold the story of the scandal into it,” Zinn said.
Experience the scandal!
The Agony & The Ecstacy of... Mike Daisey
Based on the monologue by Mike Daisey, adapted and performed by Jeff Zinn
Directed by Valerie Stanford
Shows at 7:30 PM on August 5, 6 and 7Harbor Stage Company 15 Kendrick Ave, Wellfleet
Serendipitously, Daisey was scheduled to perform a monologue entitled The Orient Express at the Theater Communications Group National Conference, held in Boston this spring. The other event was a panel discussion on documentary theater, with Daisey on the panel.
Clearly they were going to take this issue head on at the conference, and Zinn followed suit.
A mix-up mash-up
Daisey's new monologue, The Orient Express, is the story of the scandal and was performed in early July by the Cape Cod Theater Project in Falmouth.
“He turned it into art,” Zinn says. “It's the story of how devastating it was to him, personally and professionally. He's apologetic, but only to a point.”
And that's how The Agony and the Ecstasy of… Mike Daisey was born, premiering at Harbor Stage Company August 5, 6 and 7.
A mashup of Daisey's original monologue and Zinn's own spin on the scandal, The Agony and The Ecstasy of… Mike Daisey hilariously explores how journalism and art collide in our modern world.
Despite rumors to the contrary, his relationship to Wellfleet's new Harbor Stage Company is “informal friend and advisor,” according to Zinn. “I like to think of myself as kind of a mentor. They have come to me for advice about operational things and I'm happy to give it.”
“We’re thrilled to have Jeff onboard for what we see as a kind of homecoming,” Harbor Stage Company’s Artistic Director Robert Kropf says in a press release. “Jeff is a fierce, uncompromising artist whose vision has inspired us all– this feels like a continuation of our work together.”
When he's not mashing monologues, Zinn is keeping busy with projects at the Boston Theater Marathon, Boston Playwrights' Theatre, The Berkshire Playwrights Lab, two teaching gigs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Clark University and a 2013 American Stage Company trip to direct a relatively new Sam Shepherd play. He's also putting the finishing touches on a book and is gearing up to co-produce The East Coast Conspiracy to Save Lives, a screenplay by Brendan Hughes.