Mike Daisey gives anyone a free byte of his Steve Jobs play
A playwright has jeopardised the European premiere of his work by announcing plans to make the script available for performance by any other performer, at any time, anywhere in the world without paying royalties.
Mike Daisey, who wrote The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, is due to perform the monologue at the HighTide festival in May. It combines details about the life and career of Steve Jobs with an account of Daisey’s own visit to a factory in Shenzhen, China where Apple products are produced.
Reviewing the original production, the New York Times’s critic Charles Isherwood wrote: “Anyone who sees Mr Daisey’s show – and anyone with a cellphone and a moral centre should – will find it hard to forget the repercussions that our casual purchases can have in the lives of men and women (and children) half a world away.”
Daisey’s announcement yesterday that he will post a full script online, and allow anyone to perform it royalty-free, raises the possibility of the performance being gazumped. “The monologue will be released as a PDF, and it comes with very open licences and you can perform it forever, without paying royalties, wherever you want,” he told the New York Times.
Nonetheless, HighTide’s artistic director Steven Atkinson welcomed the news. “Mike believes theatre has a social role, and like any good artist, they want their work to impact upon audiences. So this action, whilst unusual, is typical of Mike – agenda-setting, ahead of the curve,” he told the Guardian.
Daisey had planned to post the script on his blog yesterday, but he delayed the process in order to respond to a major – unrelated – announcement by Apple. Instead, he posted an apology, promising that the script “is coming soon”.
The post continues: “The massive response, from nine different countries, and hundreds of emails clamouring for the piece, is deeply encouraging.”
He continued: “I have not managed to get this show to Broadway,” he said, “but if someone else wants to try, more power to them.”
He has also granted permission for those hoping to produce the play to deviate from the script in any way they choose. However, he outlined a few requests, including: “It would be nice if you let me know where it is happening.”
Atkinson maintains any such productions will not lessen the impact of Daisey’s own performance. “The text itself is only part of what makes The Agony … an extraordinary piece of theatre. It’s Mike himself that is unmissable.”