The past few months may not have been kind to Mike Daisey, but the controversial monologist isn’t going anywhere.
Spoleto audiences were treated to a surprise announcement after Daisey’s performance of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” on June 3: he will not be performing “Teching in India” on June 6 as advertised. Rather, he said, the show will be a new monologue that’s “more compelling” and “more recent.” Now, new details have emerged about what audiences can expect.
“In part it’s about how we tell stories and how stories get created, and the shape of how fact and fiction interweave,” said Daisey. “It’s also about failure and the value of failure.”
The currently untitled project will follow a train ride Daisey took from London to Istanbul this spring. He remains vague about the scope of the narrative — he never scripts out his monologues beyond coming prepared with an outline. Even “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which he’s performed for nearly two years, changes from show to show. Tomorrow night’s event will be the first performance of a monologue that will undoubtedly evolve over time.
“After it’s created we’ll know what kind of monologue it is,” said Daisey. “My gut feeling is that it’s not what we’d call ‘socially conscious,’ but I do think there will be a chunk about the fall of communism and the rise of corporatism as I take this trip across Europe.”
Daisey was the subject of a national media controversy in March after it was revealed that portions of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” that were played on “This American Life” were fabricated. This will be the first time that he performs a new story since the debacle.
“It was really clear to me that this was the story that I should be telling and what the work needed to be talking about,” said Daisey. “It follows this journey and wrestles with the fallout of events and the landscape of fact and fiction. Instead of a polemical response, I think the story is fundamentally about the line between storytelling and imagination and these larger things that pertain to what’s gone down.”
Andrew Johnson is a Newhouse School graduate student.