Ideas from Mike Daisey

Here are tidbits from a conversation with Mike Daisey and director Jean-Michele Gregory, moderated by TBA Festival guest artistic director Cathy Edwards:
  • Labels (e.g.- storyteller, comedian, actor) are used to eliminate having to think. They provide a way to reduce and sell work as an object, yet because of this reduction and circulation in the marketplace, labels accumulate baggage. Labels must be unpacked and/or placed alongside each other to create hyper-terms that cause people to pause and think.
  • Daisey performs from a non-script. Each scene of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was marked by him turning a page. On this page are notes from which he improvises. Using a non-script allows for an experience rather than commodity to exchange between performer and audience member.
  • Rarefication in art is a lie. Daisey does not believe in "white wall art." To have an honest exchange, is to place the work within a living context. In his performance, I noticed how even though he was on a proscenium stage, he aligned himself with the audience through his words and actions.
  • During The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Daisey said that he can feel the waves of nausea throughout the audience as he alternates between speaking about Jobs with labor abuses in China.
  • Daisey doesn't believe in world premieres. He said that the idea of the premiere is akin to losing one's virginity. It can only happen once. Presenters do not necessarily want to have the world premiere, rather they do not want any other venue to have it.
  • Technology promises a utopian future where the object and body dissolve.
  • The hubris of Google is that we think we have access to knowledge when there are stories not on the network.
  • The through-line of Daisey's work is "the struggle to live an ethical life in the world."
  • The best storytelling is gossip because the stakes are clear.
While I don't care much for artist talks as they can be well-rehearsed-press-quotable-after-the-fact statements-about-work, these thoughts resonate with me. What do you think?