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Mike Daisey’s Sydney video reveals more grey areas

Sydney Opera House "looking into" monologist’s 2011 performance

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The Sydney Opera House “will be looking into” appearances under its roof by controversial Monologist Mike Daisey. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs a monologue Daisey performs in which he describes practices at the Foxconn plant where Apple products are made, was last week disowned by influential US radio program This American Life.

Daisey delivered the monologue as part of the Opera House’s theatre program, on the same day as the venue hosted the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, a series of lectures and debates run by the Opera House and The St James Ethics Centre.

The Register doesn’t know exactly what was said on stage at either performance, but when we brought the news of Daisey’s disgrace to the attention of staff at the Opera House, we were told that “… we will certainly be looking at this and putting any relevant details on our blog so that people are fully informed.”

The Opera House’s site contains a video of which further complicates the position he outlined to This American Life.

You can of course see the whole thing by clicking above, but if that’s not your cup of tea the piece includes several statements which, as is the case in This American Life’s retraction show, offer interesting interpretations of the boundaries between art and truth.

Asked by an un-named interviewer if Daisey considers it is important to “get the message out or is it important to entertain or are they both connected,” Daisey responds by saying “I do not consider myself an entertainer … particularly doing work like this.”

We’re not quite sure what Daisey does consider himself to be because, to be fair, edits to the interview mean his words appear not to be continuous. Those edits become important because there’s clearly a cut between a question asking if he considers himself an actor and his response that says “An actor has a responsibility to try to summon up their best self to reflect the truth of the world.”

“If an actor tries to use their gift for entertainment, that’s nice. What is an actor’s job? To express the truth, as best as one can, in public, coming out of your face

“If you make the truth come out of your mouth, you are a speaker. If it comes out of your face …”

“I had an acting instructor years ago who said I don’t care about your intention, I don’t care about your process, at the end of the day unless the acting comes out of your FACE it is not acting it is just thinking.” ®

Bootnote

We've removed a sentence about the St James Ethics Centre not responding to our inquiries as Sydney Opera House has told us that Daisey's performance of The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs was not performed under its auspices.

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