PuSh Blog

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, by Mike Daisey

August 12, 2010

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is a PuSh+ presentation (a work featured outside the Festival’s typical mid-winter schedule), created and performed by Mike Daisey and directed by Jean-Michele Gregory. The PuSh Festival is delighted to have Daisey back in Vancouver after his exhilarating performance of Monopoly! Tesla, Edison, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and the War For Tomorrow to a capacity crowd at Club PuSh in 2009.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver)

Tickets $40

Available through the Vancity Theatre website

Doors open at 6pm. Come early and enjoy a refreshment while mingling with other guests. You are also invited to stick around after the performance for a post-show reception where audience members will get the opportunity to meet the artists and enter a raffle to win a brand new iPad.

Read what other people have to say:

“There have been fingers inside your iPhone; they were wiped away with alcohol before you got it. The iPhone, in other words, was made not by machines but by fingers (fingers are cheaper). The fingers that do the work are located in a humongous factory complex in Shenzhen, China, at a company called Foxconn, which employs 800,000 people, where earlier this year workers were flinging themselves off the buildings to their deaths. The reason for the suicides was the iPhone 4. Conditions that are already very bad become apparently unbearable when the American market is about to receive a new, improved product, so people die. This is not something that anyone is particularly exercised about. But something changes when you find out that your gleaming iPhone once had fingers inside it; in computer terms, this introduces a virus into your system of thinking: Your handheld device never was hands-free. Mike Daisey went to Shenzhen for three weeks, stood outside Foxconn, and shook these hands. And he has just begun planting the virus he picked up there. Last weekend, a tiny but potent dose of it hit Seattle.” Jen Graves, the Stranger.

We just finished presenting an early version of this piece and the overall feeling was that this is an important, provocative piece. It shows its political colors in an inspiring, unapologetic way. Something that I tend to shy away from artistically but nonetheless was thrilled by the results. Each performance was followed by a post show discussion and by the end of the final performance, Mike had begun to really hone the piece. The audience response was of intense curiosity about the labor conditions in China among other strong reactions. I wish you luck with it. Mike has really come into his own as an artist and I know PuSh will reap the benefits of this unique performer.” Andrew Polk, Artistic Director of The Cape Cod Theatre Project.

“I think it’s hard to forget your very first Mike Daisey show. I was lucky enough to have my first experience be a workshop performance of his new piece, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Job at Seattle Repertory Theatre just a few nights ago. Set against a bare stage except for a simple wooden table and chair, Daisey fully demonstrates that he is a master storyteller, weaving together personal stories and opinions with his own version of investigative journalism to deliver a punch-in-the-gut to audience members. His focus this time around is Steve Jobs, and how this one man has shaped and influenced the lives of people all over the world. From those that desire/crave/can’t-have-enough Apple products all the way down to the people that actually make them. Because, don’t kid yourself, these Apple electronics don’t just appear out of thin air. They’re being mass produced in China, and we just don’t like to think about that. We don’t want to understand the conditions in which our beloved electronics are produced in. But Daisey is here to shed light on the subject. A self-proclaimed lover of all things Apple, Daisey’s show is unapologetically truthful and insightful and will leave you with thoughts and questions zooming around your head—just like a good piece of theatre should. Whether this is your first Mike Daisey show or your tenth, it’s always a treat to hear what he has to say.” Kiki Abba, Audience Development Associate at Seattle Repertory Theatre

“In The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Daisey dives into the epic story of a real-life Willy Wonka whose personal obsessions profoundly affect our everyday lives—and follows the trail to China where millions toil in factories to create iPhones and iPods. With The Last Cargo Cult, Daisey travels to a remote island in the South Pacific whose inhabitants actually worship America and its goods. He observes their rituals as the world’s financial system collapses, spurring a soul-searching assessment of what money means and who is paying the price. With his wry eye and eccentric intellect, Daisey delivers two adventure stories—presented on different days—that cut deep with hilarious social critique.” Berkeley Rep

“Don’t expect a flattering portrayal of Jobs. The official description of the monologue declares that Daisey will follow the ‘epic story of a real-life Willy Wonka’ along his ‘trail to China where millions toil in factories to create iPhones and iPods.’ Did you get that? Forget Oompah-Loompahs, Jobs apparently has millions of his own diminutive ethnic slaves to work at his Wonka factories.” John Brownlee, Cult of Mac.

“It’s as hard to imagine Jobs attending the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s show as it is to imagine the intensely private, image-conscious perfectionist staying away Apple’s Cupertino HQ is just an hour’s drive away, and Jobs must be curious about the show following his ‘trail to China where millions toil in factories to create iPhones and iPods.’ Sounds a bit unflattering. On the other hand, the show’s sole performer Mike Daisey has been called ‘one of the elite performers in American theater’ for a dramatic approach that looks more like talking than conventional acting. Daisey is no stranger to tech, having gotten his big break with an account of working at Amazon.com, or to cult leaders, having done a monologue on L. Ron Hubbard. Maybe Jobs can slip in during dress rehearsal like Green Day did.” ValleyWag

“He’s the voice of witness. Your feisty guide to a world you quickly realize you have never completely understood. Mike Daisey, relentlessly truthful and unexpectedly hilarious, traces the story of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and how his deep obsessions have shaped the way we think, and the way we live…His ability to guide audiences into unexpected places of truth is what makes him such a powerful performer…This monologue, in classic Daisey style, weaves together opinion and investigative journalism to tell a story that as heartbreaking as it is hilarious.” Shonali Muthalaly, The Hindu.

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Interesting Links:

Apple admits using factories that employ Chinese children, Child labour PR nightmare looms By Adam Hartley

Apple admits using child labor

Mike Daisey’s Blog

Steve Jobs’s biography

Please feel free to post more links!