updated 12:30 pm EDT, Sun March 18, 2012
Daisey tones down Apple-Foxconn claims in show
Stage performer Mike Daisey following a show exposé has scaled back his show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, to be more accurate. He has dropped "anything he doesn't feel he can stand behind" from the story of his trip to Foxconn's main plant in Shenzhen, The Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis told the AP. A prologue also now exists that acknowledges This American Life's criticism and frames it as a story with core truths, but as a performance and not absolute fact.
During an initial Saturday afternoon performance, he encouraged the audience to read about the controversy. He jokingly made the "small request" not to start looking things up in the middle of the performance, as there would be ample time for that afterwards.
While the details of exactly what was cut weren't mentioned, they're likely to include those points directly challenged by TAL in its Friday episode, "Retraction." Among them are the assertion that he had met people affected by n-hexane poisoning, that a man he had met with a ruined hand had been with Foxconn and was mesmerized by an iPad, and that guards at the plant had guns. His translator has said that none of these were true. Daisey is still adamant that he met a 13-year-old girl working at the factory, although claims of meeting many underage workers have been under dispute.
He had said during the radio show that his main regret was clearing the use of the show for NPR and PRI as fact, rather than warning them in a step that would likely have kept it out of the segment altogether. "It's not journalism," he said," "it's theater."
Eustis added that there was no intention to pull the play and that The Public Theater as a stage wasn't responsible for checking facts, even if it wanted the facts to be right. The central issue of labor conditions in China was "incredibly important," and dismantling the entire argument would distract from the main issue, he said. Daisey still plans to continue performing the show and was hoping to go beyond New York City after its current run.
The play in its original form has been criticized both for misleading major news outlets as well as for its focus. While he uses Apple products, the title and emphasis have led many to falsely believe that only Apple uses conditions similar to Foxconn's when Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and others also use it for manufacturing and haven't been subject to the same scrutiny.