Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So I've become a fan of Mike Daisey and have reviewed a lot of his monologues in this space. So I was surprised to find out that this past weekend he suffered a walkout by his audience and had his work vandalized.

What happened next is recorded here (complete with tape). The short form is that a self-identified Christian group took offense to Mike's use of profanity, got up and walked out. None of that is really out of line - in fact, I support it - I've been trapped in enough bad productions where the herd mentality kept me in my seat more than the action on the stage. Where it gets worrisome is that one of the adults walked up to Mike's table, picked up his glass of water, and poured it over his only copy of his notes.

OK, we've just crossed a line, here. I recognize your right to beat feet (though I'd quibble with your cause), but dousing the speaker's work? What kind of thuggishness are we talking about here?

And Mike, to his credit, pulls through it with openness and kindness. Me, I'd be coming across the desk and throwing elbows, but Mike kept looking for answers, which the vandal and the departees did not want to provide.

What Happened Next gets even more interesting, and is here. Mike tracks down the (loudly) self-identified Christian Group and finds that, once the press started asking questions, they morphed into a High School outing from Norco, California. He tracks down the individual who trashed his script, and he and Mike have a talk.

And what strikes me in his discussion is the cascade of excuses offered up throughout the process. Of why this lummox (I am not as kind as Mr. Daisey) felt he was justified to trash Daisey's manuscript:
* I am a Christian, so I was justified.
* There were children present, so I was justified.
* I didn't get the memo there was bad language, so I was justified.
* It was a safety issue, so I was justified.
* It was a security issue, so I was justified.
* You are a libr'ul, so I was justified.
* I was scared, so I was justified.
* I have anger issues, so I was justified.

Each one offered up and each one patiently knocked down by Daisey. And in the end the assailant mans up and apologizes. And Mike forgives him, because that is the worst punishment he could up with - the guy is going to have to deal with the fact that Mike Daisey, this profane liberal who incurred his wrath, acted more Christian than he.

Well, that's second-worst punishment. Because Mike is a monologist and he monologues his life. His assailant entered into that narative when he decided to annoint Mike's manuscript, and now is trapped there, as all of us are trapped in the memories of those we have sinned against. Forgiven, but not forgotten. Yeah, we're going to be hearing this tale as we move forward, and it will remain a self-inflicted wound for the guy who decided to vent his anger against the artist.

Mike Daisey will be talking about it. And, you know, he'd be justified.

More later,