Steve Jobs will soon have a play to commemorate him as well as a holiday: The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a one-man off-Broadway production by Mike Daisey, will premiere Oct. 17 at The Public Theater in New York.
The play will center on Jobs, the public's love affair with the devices he created, and the human cost that went into creating them. The play is not, however, a straight homage. [It is] a hilarious and harrowing tale of pride, beauty, lust, and industrial design, says performer Mike Daisey.
Following Jobs from Silicon Valley to factories in China, the production aims to examine how we see the world and how our high-tech toys have changed those perceptions. It is also an unsparing look at the working conditions at Chinese factories that create iPhones and iPods.
Daisey has performed the unscripted show over the last 16 months. Last January, Jobs took an indefinite medical leave of absence around the same time Agony started previews at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. In a sense you could say I'm being hard on him, Daisey told The Wall Street Journal. He was always a very tough person, though, and he was not a big believer in nostalgia and pussyfooting around. I believe in using those same tools in this investigation.
Following news of the Apple Inc. co-founder's death Wednesday after a years-long public battle with pancreatic cancer, there was some question of whether the show would go on.
Daisey, however, was adamant about continuing. He said he texted the Public's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, a few minutes after learning of Jobs died. The two discussed how audience reactions will change in light of the news, he says, but he added that they never considered postponing performances, which are set to run through Nov. 13.
Steve Jobs had an enormous impact on our lives; in many ways, the world he has left to us is his world, Daisey said. This is a perfect moment to contemplate that world, its values and practices, and decide what parts of his legacy we should embrace and what parts we need to reject.
The Public's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, agreed. The Public is a theater committed to creating work that exists in vibrant discourse with the way we live now, Eustis said in a statement to Reuters. For such an artist, and such a theater, it is inevitable that reality and drama will intersect in surprising, sometimes uncomfortable ways. This isn't to be regretted; it's to be celebrated.
Among Daisey's previous solo shows are If You See Something Say Something, The Last Cargo Cult, How Theater Failed America, 21 Dog Years, Invincible Summer, I Miss the Cold War, and Great Men of Genius.
Previews for the show begin next week. Jean-Michele Gregory directs the production.