Can you believe it? Solo performance has spawned what Charles Isherwood called “the biggest theater story since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark began its long and wayward stumble toward a much-postponed opening night last June.”
Solo performance has never been hit with such a bright spotlight. Unfortunately, it’s not a flattering spotlight, focused as it is on the controversy surrounding Mike Daisey and The Agony And the Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs.
Mike Daisey is a giant of solo performance. He’s on the AFO Advisory Board. And he has done a truly heroic job making Apple’s abusive labor practices in China news. The problem is Mike has appeared on TV news shows and in print saying things that aren’t strictly true.
But now this story has it’s second act, because Mike has just posted a wonderfully thoughtful, eloquent, and humble apology on his website. It is worth quoting at some length:
“When I said onstage that I had personally experienced things I in fact did not, I failed to honor the contract I’d established with my audiences over many years and many shows. In doing so, I not only violated their trust, I also made worse art.”
He continues, “And I would like to apologize to my colleagues in the theater, especially those who work in non-fiction and documentary fields. What you do is essential to our civic discourse. If I have made your path more difficult, or the truth of your work harder for audiences to discern, I am sorry.
“I would also like to apologize to the journalists I gave interviews to in which I exaggerated my own experiences. In my drive to tell this story and have it be heard, I lost my grounding. Things came out of my mouth that just weren’t true, and over time, I couldn’t even hear the difference myself.
“To human rights advocates and those who have been doing the hard work of bringing attention to these kinds of labor issues for years, if my failures have made your jobs harder, I apologize. If I had done my job properly, with the skills I have honed for years, I could have avoided this. Instead, I blinded myself, and lost sight of the people I wanted most to help.”
You can read the full text here. Please do! It is highly recommended, hard-won guidance for all of us in solo performance, from someone who has been through the fire of what the New York Times called “the most incendiary story of the theater season.”