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Posts Tagged ‘mike daisey’

Mike Daisey The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs – TBA:10

September 12, 2010 No comments
Mike Daisey - The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Mike Daisey - The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

I’m always surprised when I mention the TBA (Time Based Arts) Festival to friends only to find that it isn’t really on their radar screens. It’s a real shame as the ten day festival brings to Portland such a wide range of talent and is so well produced that it’ almost inconceivable that so many people aren’t even aware that it’s going on.

This year, the festival brings back Mike Daisey one of my favorite monologists with a piece dedicated to all things Apple (both good and bad) in “The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs. Daisey follows in the line of great monologists like Spaulding Grey and performs a style of of monologue called extemporaneous monologue, where he tells a story based on a loose outline of notes. His work has an unique mix of the almost electric buzz of complete improvisation combined with a strong wire framework of something totally scripted. Read more…

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The Last Cargo Cult by Mike Daisey – A Workshop Review

August 2, 2009 No comments
The Last Cargo Cult

$20 from The Last Cargo Cult

It would be completely unfair to write a review of Mike Daisey’s newest monologue The Last Cargo Cult. Saturday’s performance of the monologue was only the third time anyone had ever seen it performed.

Mike Daisey doesn’t rehearse his material, he doesn’t write a script, and he will only perform in front of an audience.  Daisey’s monologues are living, breathing entities which morph, reorganize and change considerably over their lifecycle.

“At this point, the monologue may change up to 40% from workshop to workshop,” comments Jean-Michelle Gregory, Mike Daisey’s director, editor and wife.  She goes on to explain the painstaking process that they go through after each performance as Daisey’s notes get annotated, patched up and reorganized.

I had the opportunity to sneak a peek at Daisey’s notes for the show and they consisted of bullet-pointed words and phrases like “Uh oh” and “Getting back on the plane”.  These mile markers represent the core of the story and enable Daisey to follow tangents and connections that may spontaneously occur from night to night without worrying about how he’ll get back on track. As an audience member, the experience of witnessing Daisey discovering a nugget of gold off a seemingly random tangent is indescribable.

The Last Cargo Cult may not be as polished as a work like Monopoly! , but it does have an amazing energy surrounding it, as if you can almost feel something  actively growing and building.  Seeing a work at this stage of the creative process is extremely rare; most artists shy away from showing anything that isn’t completely done or perfected.  This isn’t to say that The Last Cargo Cult isn’t already an extraordinarily enjoyable, insightful and hilarious monologue – it is.  The imperfections act in many ways like a beauty mark on a stunning model and add to the experience of seeing it live and grow.

As I promised, this isn’t a review of The Last Cargo Cult. I won’t tell you why I was handed $20 by the usher as I entered the theater, what happens on the little island of Tana, what the John Frum Movement worships or what exactly fiat currency means.  These are all part of the amazing journey of Mike Daisey’s The Last Cargo Cult, a monologue which is set to have an extraordinary life including three weekends of workshops in Seattle, a premiere at Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, a run at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, and a prime-time spot in December at the Public Theater.

I will tell you that Mike Daisey has become one of the preeminent monologists alive today. If Mike Daisey finds his way into a city you’re in, you should jump on the opportunity to see him. The workshop performance of The Last Cargo Cult sold out in a couple of days and I expect the next time he comes to town it will be even faster.

Here’s the tour current tour schedule for Mike Daisey’s The Last Cargo Cult:

Aug. 1 at 8 PM at the Wieden+Kennedy Atrium in Portland, OR
Aug. 7-22 at 8 PM at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA
Sept. 4-13 at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in Philadelphia, PA
Sept. 16-20 at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC
Sept. 24-25 at the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, AK
Sept. 29-30 at the The Whitehorse Centre in Whitehorse, YT Canada
Oct. 2-3 at The Banff Centre in Banff, AB, Canada
Oct. 9-11 at The Gamm Theatre in Providence, RI
Dec. 3-13 at the Public Theater in New York, NY
Jan. 11-Feb. 7, 2010 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC
March 4-8 at the WaterTower Theatre in Dallas, TX
March 19-April 11 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA
April 26-May 9 at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, IL

Aug
1 at 8 PM at the Wieden+Kennedy Atrium in Portland, OR
Aug. 7-22 at 8 PM at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA
Sept. 4-13 at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in Philadelphia, PA
Sept. 16-20 at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC
Sept. 24-25 at the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, AK
Sept. 29-30 at the The Whitehorse Centre in Whitehorse, YT Canada
Oct. 2-3 at The Banff Centre in Banff, AB, Canada
Oct. 9-11 at The Gamm Theatre in Providence, RI
Dec. 3-13 at the Public Theater in New York, NY
Jan. 11-Feb. 7, 2010 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC
March 4-8 at the WaterTower Theatre in Dallas, TX
March 19-April 11 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA
April 26-May 9 at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, I

For more information on Mike Daisey and The Last Cargo Cult:

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Mike Daisey Interview – The Last Cargo Cult

July 31, 2009 No comments
Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey is a breath of fresh air. In an era where there is so much derivative work  appearing on stage (look no further than Shrek The Musical, Legally Blonde or Xanadu),Daisey reminds us why we go to live theater in the first place – to see something happen, in the moment.

Unlike many other notable monologists, Mike Daisey does all his performance extemporaneously. His monologues are never rehearsed and the only guide he uses is a set of notes which he amends at the end of every performance.

I’ve had the opportunity to see Mike Daisey perform on three occasions:  21 Dog Years (doing time at Amazon.com) in 2005,  Monopoly! and If You See Something, Say Something which Daisey performed at the 2009 TBA festival.  It’s been an amazing experience to see Daisey grow as a performer, and so I was extremely excited to discover that PICA was bringing him back to Portland to workshop his latest work The Last Cargo Cult (which he performs on August 1st at 8pm in the Wieden + Kennedy Atrium 224 NW 13th Ave)

Here’s our interview with Mike Daisey where he talks about the process of creating his monologues, The Last Cargo Cult, and why Portland has such a deep connection with his work:

Here’s Part 2 of the Mike Daisey Interview:

For more information on Mike Daisey:

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Mike Daisey – If You See Something, Say Something

September 15, 2008 1 comment
Mike Daisey in If You See Something, Say Something

Mike Daisey in If You See Something, Say Something

This year at TBA I had a little mini “Mike Daisey Festival“. I saw Mike Daisey perform his ‘MONOPOLY!‘ early on in the fest, then attended a companion workshop ‘extemporaneous, autobiographical, monologue’ and finally finished with ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ at the end of the festival..and I enjoyed every minute of it.

After seeing Monopoly!, I attended Daisey’s workshop. It was a lot like watching the behind the scenes content on a DVD. Daisey opened window into his work, his process and the art form of monologue. One of the key points Daisey emphasized is “there are no messages in good extemporaneous monologue”. This perhaps is the key to why Daisey’s pieces work so well. Daisey deals with incendiary topics in his work, rather than rant and rave, beating the audience over the head with messages, he deals with core themes and trusts his audience enough to process that material and make their own conclusions.

In the workshop, Daisey also emphasized the importance of imperfection in art, a concept which spoke to me. “If you smooth away the edges you leave no point of entry to your work,” Daisey remarked. “Hamlet is a truly fucked up play. If I submitted it to a MFA program without including who wrote it, they would smooth out the edges to make it ‘better’…I mean why doesn’t the ghost of Hamlet’s father come back, we need to have him come back… and what about these fucking Pirates!” Daisey teaches weekend long workshops in New York and after getting a two and a half hour taste I’d say it’s required education for anyone pursuing a career in monologue.

After the workshop I had the opportunity to see Daisey’s newest piece. If You See Something, Say Something previewed at this years TBA festival prior to its run at The Public Theater in New York (Wednesday, October 15 – Sunday, November 30). If you See Something is a poignant and engaging musing about security, what makes us feel safe and how governments use fear as a leverage point. Like many of Daisey’s monologues, this one weaves several stories together to form the whole including: Daisey’s trip to Laos Alamos in New Mexico to see ground zero at the Trinity Site, the story of Sam Cohen and his involvement with both the Atomic and Neutron bombs, the complete history of Homeland Security and 9/11.

What struck me the most about If You See Something, Say Something was just how many levels that it played on. The audience roared with laughter as Daisey exploded with self effacing comedic moments including eating the worst hamburger in history and then barely uttered a breath as he talked about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True to form, Daisey doesn’t beat his audience over the head with messages about how bad Homeland Security is or the insanity of the Patriot Act, instead he dissects the history of both and muses on the relationship we all have with it.

If You See Something, Say Something is an exceptional monologue and Mike Daisey has shown this week that he is one of the premiere monologists performing today. Daisey hinted that he may be back again in Portland in the near future and mentioned an off the record piece he’s proposing for a future TBA, I can’t wait.

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Leesaar The Company & Mike Daisey – Simply Amazing at TBA 08

September 7, 2008 No comments
LeeSaarr - The Company

LeeSaarr - The Company

The buzz you’re hearing about TBA is all true. Portland’s Institute for Contemporary Art has continued to build on its success by attracting world class talent and creating an artistic epicenter that should not be missed.

This Saturday night I caught two TBA simply amazing TBA performances:

Leesarr The Company – Geisha

Geisha opens with dancer Jye-Hwei Lin, dressed only in a pair of blue jeans, who dances and moves around the bare stage to no music. This opening piece sets the stage for what it to follow. Lin’s bare chest creates a musical canvas with which she uses every inch. Each breath, tilt, movement is carefully cherished in this dance.

Lin’s dance is beyond captivating. As she holds a pose, arms stretched out, body nearly frozen, she waves her fingers as if they’re caught in the breeze. This tiny movement on a huge stage is as loud as the leaps and twists which later follow in the piece.

Lin’s stark opening dance is followed by Lee Sher, wrapped in a silk robe, she serenades the audience with Israeli pop music (lip synchs to a concert track which includes audience cheering). This interplay between the dance and Sher’s pop serenade gives the piece a fascinating contrast and breaks up the quiet and tiny universe which opens the piece.

After several scenes Lin is joined in her dance by Saar Harari who mirrors Lin’s dance and sexual energy while transforming the moves and energy from female to male. What follows is an electrifying dance between Lin and Harari which each dancer wrestles with whose dance it is. Lin pulls back in elements of her solo dance and Harari transforms those elements.

The two dancers drift between synchronization, responsive dancing and stillness. As the piece build the two dancer’s orbit draw closer and closer. As an audience member you’re pulled into this dance, waiting, hoping, wishing that the two worlds will collide. But just as this anticipation comes to a crescendo it’s interrupted by another song from Lee Sher.

I won’t spoil the ending of this piece, the ‘will they, won’t they’ drama is part of the whole excitement and I think it would be a disservice to clue you in on the ending. But I was amazed at the end of the piece just how sucked in to the drama I had become. I’ve seen a good amount of modern dance but never anything so deliberate, passionate and amazing as Leesarr’s Geisha. This is the kind of work that could awaken a love for modern dance. Leesaar performs Geisha one more time (Sun Sept 7 8:30pm at Lincoln Hall/PSU) be sure not to miss it.

Mike Daisey – MONOPOLY!

Mike Daisey in Monopoly

Mike Daisey in Monopoly

I saw Mike Daisey perform his monologue “21 Dog Years, Doing Time @ Amazon.com” when he brought it to Portland in 2005. I found 21 Dog Years to be a funny, amusing and entertaining monologue, worth every penny of admission. It was enough make me want to see Daisey again when I heard he was returning with TBA.

Something has obviously happened to Daisey over the past three years, because what he did at Portland Center Stage’s Gerding Theater was nothing short of landmark. As guest festival director Mark Russel introduced Daisey he mentioned that the desk and chair on stage belonged to Spalding Gray. As he said this I gasped. To me it’s almost unthinkable that another performer, outside of a Spalding Gray tribute show, would be permitted to use Gray’s trademark desk and chair. Russel commented that he and Eric Bogosian felt that there was no one better than Daisey to be permitted to sit behind that desk… and they’re right.

When Spalding Gray died I thought it was simply the end of an art form. Great monologists are few and far between and I doubted that anyone would ever really be able to follow in Gray’s footsteps. I was wrong. Mike Daisey is Gray’s heir apparent. His monologue MONOPOLY! is one of the smartest, funniest and well crafted piece I’ve seen on stage. Daisey’s mastery of which story to tell when and his deep understanding of metaphor as commentary echoes some of the very best work of Gray. But Daisey isn’t doing a Grey impersonation. His style, cadence and narrative are uniquely his own.

MONOPOLY! weaves several stories together including the history of Nikola Tesla, Daisey’s attempt to mount an avant-garde theater piece featuring a Tessla coil, the history of the Monopoly board game, his experience with a Microsoft industrial video shoot, his family in Maine and the impact of the local Walmart on the town. Daisey’s weaving of the stories is pitch perfect and he uses the interconnections of them to express the core themes of the piece.

MONOPOLY! is extremely entertaining and laugh out loud funny. It plays one more time at the festival (Sun Sept 7 8:30pm at Gerding Theater at the Armory) and then later in the festival he performs a new monologue If you See Something, Say Something that I will absolutely be seeing.

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