Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


How Theater Failed America

Last night Pramas and I went to see Mike Daisey's new show, How Theater Failed America. It was the third time he'd performed the show ever and he performed to a packed house (they had to break out the overflow seating); I told him after the show how hard I'd had to work to suppress the urge to "heckle" (or rather yell out my completely platonic love for him) during one portion of the show and he looked genuinely relieved as he thanked me for not doing so. I shrieked with laughter during the show when he did his bit about people "dialoging" because I had just gone on a rant about how I'm sick of everything being a "dialog" while we were waiting for the doors to open: Kate's after school program manager wanted to "dialog" with me because she could tell I was eager to get away from her and she thought she's upset me... we'd just seen an advertisement for a yoga studio that proclaimed that yoga established a "dialog" between mind and body. Not ten minutes later, Mike had me in stitches by hitting the "dialog" thing with his special brand of sweaty, exuberant verbal hammer. How's that for an image?

The thing is, Mike's clearly a favorite here and not just with me. He sells out his events at CHAC and this debut run of the new show (which begins its off-Broadway run in New York shortly) was no different. At the beginning of his month-long run he was performing his excellent Monopoly monologue, which we'd heard before but misremembered as his Tesla show, so saw again. Thing is, it was still enjoyable. No regrets.

How Theater Failed America is the most personally relevant of Mike's shows that I've seen. Even though he was often talking about the state of theater specifically, more than that he hit on the themes of passion, art, sacrifice, and those moments of success (or what passes for it) and the ever-present threat of crushing failure. I loved this show. I loved this show for exactly the reasons Mike lays out in his monologue that regional theater is failing. So many of his insights and experiences were directly applicable to my little artsy pond of the roleplaying game industry. Mike's description of the actors setting upon the cheese plates at theater openings was all too familiar, except in my case it was indy publishers literally pocketing the left-over brie and booze after some bigger company's GTS or GenCon function broke up. You can hear an excerpt of the monologue here. Although it is sadly leaving Seattle after tonight, I heartily recommend it if Mike comes to perform it at a theater near you.

To get some idea of the tone, if not the content of the show, I encourage you to read this piece he wrote for The Stranger.

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The Daisey Incident

Mike's put video up of the disruption of his performance.

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What possesses these people?

Monologist Mike Daisey is an acquaintance of mine. I wouldn't presume such familiarity as to call him a friend precisely but we have good friends in common and we could recognize each other on sight. I've been to several of his one-man shows now and I hold him in very high regard. He is quite a talented fellow and I've never failed to be childishly enraptured by his story-spell when he works his craft.

So, when I read his blog today, I was completely taken aback:

Last night's performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.

For those who have never seen Mike perform, allow me to describe the scene: he sits alone at a table in front of the audience; on the table is nothing but a glass of water and the outline for the show. The rest he works from scratch, through well-rehearsed and intimate stories, all personal to a greater or lesser degree. Every night, just him and the audience. In fact, there's a short sample of this show available online here.

Can you imagine if someone ripped the bow from a cellist's hands before walking out of a performance because he objected to the music? How about snatching off an actor's wig or pulling down a ballerina's tutu or tearing the book out of a reader's hands or the pages out of the book itself? It's unthinkable to me and the more I think about the incident, the more disgusted I feel. Insulted. Angry on his behalf and on behalf of all the other people who were assembled to see this talented performer.

What possesses people to behave this way? By what right does one's disappointment or disapproval over an artistic act entitle one to attack the artist?

[EDIT] I meant to link to the rest of his blog, for those who are interested. Fixed now

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