posted by laura becker
I had the immense pleasure of pondering the technology richness behind the Wooster Group’s There Is Still Time..Brother, through my two hours inside its center (over a couple of visits) and the panel discussion with the makers of it, before stepping into Mike Daisey’s little-technology-needed simple set of a chair, a desk and a glass of water for his monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
Daisey is a lover of all things Apple and hater of all things Microsoft, but the only tool he needed for his performance was the power of his voice. Through his deft descriptions of the pointlessness of power point presentations, his grand gestures of the gospel of Macintosh, and his intertwined stories of the history of Jobs’ career and the capitalist gluttony of China, Daisey left the audience aching in laughter and yet heartbroken by the sad state of global economic greed.
Daisey’s dry sense of self-effacing humor almost disguised his own heroic evolution in his story. He starts out as a somewhat blind user of every new thing Apple puts out, but his obsessive reading of tech blogs leads him to a discovery of factory conditions that is just too horrid to ignore. By the end of his journey he’s become a Hawaiian-shirt wearing missionary of human rights, prodding the audience to join his army of informed activists. We are now all complicit in Apple’s slave-driving unless we use our new knowledge and our combined power as consumers to influence their work ethic.
While I loved the magic behind the Wooster Group’s installation, I felt a bit like a victim of false-advertising, since its “anti-war” promise was mostly lost in the shuffle of the needed concentration to absorb all the competing narratives and images on laptops that criscross the 360-degree screen. It is precisely Daisey’s drastically different use of theatrics, a spare set, a solo spotlight and a stirring story, that ingeniously inspires the ultimate interactivity of his audience with his message and his mission. But it is positively the fact that I can have both these experiences to ponder in one day that makes each one richer, and that is why I fucking love this festival.