The script, revised and updated by the author, performed by Alex Lyras (The Common Air), opens February 20 at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood, where it will continue every Wednesday at 8 pm through April 10.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs examines the controversy of globalization through the rise and fall and resurrection of Apple, illuminating how Apple's former CEO and his obsessions shape our lives. It follows the trail all the way to China to investigate the factories where millions toil to make iPhones and iPads, shining a light on the very human price we pay for our high-tech toys.
With two runs at New York's Public Theater and performances across the country between 2010 and 2012, Daisey opened a Pandora's box in the world of technology and production, demanding social responsibility in the corporate sector, inspiring his audiences to action and influencing change in the corporate practices of both Apple and Foxconn, Apple's supplier in China.
NPR's Ira Glass was so moved when he saw the show that he invited Daisey to perform an excerpt on This American Life. The January, 2012 episode, titled "Daisey and the Apple Factory," became the most downloaded episode in the show's history. Two months later, Glass officially retracted the episode when he discovered that Daisey had embellished and even fabricated "facts" for dramatic effect. After the firestorm, Daisey reformed his work, removing the contested details and standing by his assertions that the conditions in Apple's supply chain violate China's own labor laws and remain unethical. The New York Times calls Version 2.0 "more powerful, funny and engaging" than ever.
"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is an example of the true power of theater," says Lyras. "Here's a performer who took on a conglomerate and actually affected change. Apple got so much heat, so many questions from people who had seen the show, that it had no choice but to start providing answers."
At the same time, Lyras points out that the production's history is a mirror reflection of itself. "Like all writers documenting an atrocity, Daisey wanted both the truth and the drama. And, not unlike Steve Jobs, somewhere along the way, he lost site of the original design. The difference is that Daisey stepped up, admitted wrongdoing and made the necessary changes."
Daisey writes on his website, "When I started performing this monologue, almost no one in the audience had ever heard the word "Foxconn" even though they make almost half of all the electronics in the world. Today when I tell this story, it's common knowledge. When I started, people would lecture me that nothing could ever change-no one would ever notice or care about labor in China, period. But that changed. People did wake up, and for the first time in decades began to actually think about the web of relationships between their things and how they are made."
In his determination to "spread the message," Daisey released The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs into the public domain under a revolutionary open license. In the first week, the script was downloaded over 100,000 times. It has since seen more than forty productions around the world and been translated into six languages. The first Chinese production opened last year in Beijing and will tour to Hong Kong and Shenzhen this year.
Robert McCaskill, whose longtime creative collaboration with Alex Lyras includes 2009's multiple award-winning The Common Air, directs the Los Angeles premiere. Multimedia design is by Tim Arnold, who incorporates video and projections to enhance Daisey's tale.Matthew Quinn produces for Combined Artform/Theatre Asylum.
Alex Lyras' first solo performance for the stage, desperelics, was produced at the Gene Frankel Theater in New York and later at the HBO Workspace in Los Angeles. It led to a development deal with NBC based on his characters, and a role in Mike Nichols' What Planet Are Your From? His second solo effort, Unequalibrium, co-written and directed by Robert McCaskill, was selected for publication in "New Playwrights: Best Plays" as well as "Best Men's Monologues For the Twenty First Century." The show ran in New York and Los Angeles, where it was nominated for a Drama-Logue Award. The Common Air, Lyras and McCaskill's third collaboration, linked six disparate characters during an airport delay at JFK. It ran at the Elephant Theatre in Los Angeles for six months, receiving multiple awards and nominations, then transferred to New York for an eight-month run at Off Broadway's 45 Bleecker Street Theater. The Common Air has since been translated into German and Italian. As a writing team, Lyras and McCaskill have sold pilots to Brillstein Grey, NBC, FBC and FOX studios. Lyras produced and acted in the feature film, Mona, which won Best Picture at the 2008 Malibu Film Festival, and in the soon-to-be-released Heterosexuals, written and directed by McCaskill. His screenplay, ALVA, a story that asks if Thomas Edison was our greatest inventor or an idea thief, won the Tribeca Film Institute's Sloan Foundation Award. Lyras is a member of the Writer's Guild West.
Mike Daisey has been called "the master storyteller" and "one of the finest solo performers of his generation" by The New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues which weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories that cut to the bone, exposing secret histories and unexpected connections. His controversial work, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, was recognized as one of the year's best theater pieces by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, San Jose Mercury News, and The San Francisco Bay Guardian.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs opens on February 20 and continues every Wednesday @ 8 pm through April 10. General admission is $20.00; full-time students with ID and seniors are $15. Theatre Asylum is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood,CA 90038 (1½ blocks west of Vine). For reservations and information, call (800) 838-3006 or go to agonyecstasy.brownpapertickets.com/.