Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Responds to This American Life Retraction

Dear Friends,

As you may have read by now, the radio program This American Life – which aired a segment of Mike Daisey’s theatre monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has retracted the story due to what it calls fabrications in Mike’s tale. We wanted to let you know that The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs will run at Woolly Mammoth as planned from July 17-August 5, 2012.

Woolly Mammoth is proud to have hosted the birth performance and a highly successful run last season of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a daring work of theatre that opened people’s eyes to some of the real working conditions in Chinese factories where high-tech products are manufactured—conditions which have been documented by subsequent journalistic accounts in The New York Times and other sources.

It is rare and exciting when a work of theatre has the kind of impact on world events that Mike Daisey’s show has had. One of Woolly’s core values is to present works that spark conversation around topics of socio-political importance, and we’re pleased to have played a part in bringing the issues in Mike’s show to national attention.

We look forward to welcoming Mike back this summer for the newest version of the show, which has continued to evolve as events have swirled around it. We encourage you to learn more at Mike Daisey’s website, This American Life’s website, and many others. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further questions.

Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director and Jeffrey Herrmann, Managing Director

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Filed under Artistic, Communications and Connectivity, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

44 responses to “Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Responds to This American Life Retraction

  1. Jm

    The truth of the story-given human form through fiction-has been born out through subsequent journalism. I am disappointed that Mr. Daisy felt the need to mislead his audiences (in the theater as well as on the radio) about the accuracy of his story–I think it undermines his larger mission. But, now that the true context of the piece has been revealed, I am confident that it will continue to have great impact, but in a more authentic form

  2. Will Clarke

    It’s absurd you’ve chosen to both defend and support this man. In your press release, you say, “This American Life… has retracted the story due to what it calls fabrications in Mike’s tale.” How disingenuous – it calls them fabrications because they ARE fabrications, by Daisey’s own admission. He didn’t meet people poisoned by N-hexane, he didn’t see child laborers, he didn’t see maimed or disabled workers, he didn’t see guards with guns… he’s admitted these things are all lies.

    These abuses do actually happen. But by basing your argument on the words of a liar, you undermine your credibility and do serious harm to the cause of labor justice. It’s simply indefensible. If you pretend like facts don’t matter, then intelligent people stop paying attention and the problems don’t actually get addressed.

  3. Ken T

    Daisey is a liar. After listening to the This American Life retraction, it appears to be pathological. That he’s cashing in on lies makes him no better than the corporation he purports to tear down. The things he says he experienced are simply not true. Without truth, the show is worthless. Anyone remember James Frey? Very sad for him and your theatre company.

  4. Firstly, to Woolly Mammoth: well done.

    To those who disagree with your decision: It is not the responsibility of the playwright to be factually accurate. To hold Mr. Daisey to the standards of someone like Stephen Glass at The New Republic is ludicrous. Journalistic standards do not and should not apply to theater. Almost no play would be left standing.

    Many audience members and journalists have claimed that they were falsely led to perceive Mr. Daisey’s accounts as fact. Are plays now to be fact-checked and playwrights treated as journalists? Shall we exhume Shakespeare’s corpse, reanimate him and demand to know why he presented Richard III as hunchback when it wasn’t factually accurate?

    This debacle has made it very clear that a great many people have utterly no idea what purpose the theater serves and what it is that we actually do. No wonder that funding for the arts in the United States is so appalling and the majority of our national theatrical output is swill.

    Mr. Daisey has rightly pointed out that he is attempting to communicate the essential truth of the situation, which he has done in all of his work with great success. Any appearance/writing by a playwright in Op-Ed, television, radio, et al. should be viewed primarily as publicity for their play, not as journalism. Organizations like The New York Times and This American Life should note that if they want to fact-check a play, they should not cite the proverbial horse’s mouth as a source.

    Complain all you like, but there’s blood on our hands. For example, I just typed this on my iMac.

    • Nathan Sorseth

      To Mr. Duerr and Wooly Mammoth,

      First, let me say that I understand your stance on the difference between an act of journalism, as contrasted against an act of theatre-making. I don’t think that anyone is disputing that a work of the latter can have as much social impact as a work of the former. And if anyone (literally, anyone) has suggested that works of art should be “fact-checked”, I am unaware of it.

      What I am aware of, however, is that Mr. Daisey repeatedly chose to take the material of his show beyond the theatrical arena and into the realm of journalism – on This American Life, on Real Time with Bill Maher, and in the pages of The New York Times, to name but a few – and related as fact the specific incidents that may not have actually happened. This is a quagmire of Mr. Daisey’s own making and, most importantly, his own fervent perpetuation.

      For him to now double-down on his error of character and wrap himself in the mantle of artistic license is, to put it mildly, somewhat disingenuous. But for established and respected figures such as yourselves to simply rally behind the flag of “artistic truth” while conveniently ignoring Mr. Daisey’s apparent disregard for “journalistic integrity” is, to put it very mildly, extremely disappointing.

      • Mr. Sorseth:

        My belief is that Mr. Daisey need not have any regard for journalistic integrity. A playwright is not a source to be cited by journalists. Such a request is ludicrous. They want proper fact-checking, it’s their job to do so, not his. Any appearance he makes, anything he writes about the show, is merely publicity to get bums in seats and to further provoke readers/viewers to research how Apple created its products. A goal which he has certainly achieved. That can of worms is open.

        He is telling the essential truth about these events, not the factual truth. Nor is it his obligation to do so outside of a court-room. And had they bothered to properly fact-check, they’d never have had to ask him to comply with journalistic standards, for which he is completely unqualified. They took the easy way out by attempting to put the onus on him.

        I acknowledge that he toyed with factual truth, and by journalistic standards told lies or semi-truths. My opinion, however, is that he has no obligation to comply to journalistic standards nor should he have been believed to have done so without TAL’s fact-checking of actual sources.

        Stephen Glass at The New Republic, was, as a journalist, reasonably cited a source. It was correct to hold him to account for his disregard and perversion of journalistic standards because that was his industry.

        Mr. Daisey is a playwright. If you honestly expect a playwright to be used as factual source in any media, then you will almost always be disappointed.

      • Jm

        But Mr. Daisey insisted that the program explicitly state “this is non-fiction.” (a claim Shakespeare et al never made.) once you’ve made that claim, failing to live up to it is lying and a betrayal of trust.

    • Will Clarke

      “No wonder that funding for the arts in the United States is so appalling and the majority of our national theatrical output is swill.”

      It’s certainly not going to get any better if you continue to defend “work” like Daisey’s.

      The problem with Agony/Ecstasy, even as an allegorical work, is that the facts undermine his point. The message of his work is that abuses like underage labor, injury, and poisoning are common. Had he never even gone to China, but statistics backed up his point, then I’d say, “fine, he lied, but it was allegorical and the point remains.” However, he didn’t actually find that these abuses were common. He didn’t see them at all. And then he put forth a misleading work that indicated they were common anyway.

  5. Nathan Sorseth

    Mr. Duerr,

    In reading your reply, I’m afraid that you may be misinterpreting my position. Let me try to be clearer:

    Mr. Daisey didn’t simply lie by journalistic standards; he lied by *any* standards. We know this because he admitted to lying about the accuracy of his story and, indeed, trying to cover his tracks when his story was questioned. His account was portrayed as fact because he himself professed is as fact – widely, loudly, and repeatedly.

    As for playwright-as-source: no responsible journalist would write a story about the history of HIV/AIDS in the United States, and then cite a passage from “Angels in America” as a factual account of actual occurrances. Mr. Daisey’s work was cited as a source for numerous journalistic endeavors because Mr. Daisey himself repeatedly lied, and professed that these events actually happened. When fact-checked – which he was, though your response seems to indicate that you may be unaware of it – he admits that he repeatedly denied, stalled, and misled the TAL staff in an effort to prevent the discovery of these otherwise very trivial embellishments.

    And that’s what frustrates me the most about this whole incident, both with Mr. Daisey and with theatre figures such as yourself. His lies were so insignificant when compared with the scope of the issue he was addressing, and yet he continued to lie, and lie again, and lie again. With yourself and the Wooly Mammoth staff, and numerous theatre figures around the country, however, I find myself even more frustrated: you’ve had the story laid bare in front of you, uncovered and unvarnished, and yet you choose to obfuscate the entire episode as an instance of “misinterpreted artistic truth”, rather than addressing the issue head-on and then moving forward.

    Mr. Daisey is currently “sticking to his guns” because he has run out of plausible alternatives; he is fully committed to his account (in both an artistic and commercial sense) and has chosen to try and ride this particular storm out. But I cannot figure out why, in the face of all evidence pointing to his lack of integrity, the cream of the American theatre’s leadership has decided to climb into the boat with him…

  6. It appears that Mr. Daisey is telling a story and representing it as reality. He seems to be doing this to do damage to the reputation of Apple Computer, a U.S. company that seems to care more than any other company about the situation workers in its overseas contractors.

    It’s shameful that Mr. Duerr would double-down on these fabrications, accusing us all of ‘having blood on our hands’. Mr. Duerr claims that the playwright is telling the ‘essential truth’, but on what basis does Mr. Duerr make this claim? On Mr. Daisey’s claims, which Mr. Daisey himself has admitted as being false?

  7. Ken T

    I think the key thing to think about is Mr. Daisey’s audience. What did the audiences think? Did the audiences think the stories were true? Or did they not care? Were they, perhaps, influenced in their thinking by Daisey’s multiple appearances on MSNBC and other news channels? Would knowledge that his story was fabrication — or purely “theatre” — hurt the audience’s perception of the production and/or hurt ticket sales?

    Time will tell. I’m afraid, however, that the answer may be a very, very resounding “yes.” I feel bad for Mr. Daisey – he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught doing what many, many autobiographers do with their one-man shows.

  8. BradKlein

    Mr. Duerr’s comments, including: “Shall we exhume Shakespeare’s corpse, reanimate him and demand to know why he presented Richard III as hunchback when it wasn’t factually accurate?” Is so obviously misleading and not relevant to the issues raised by Mr. Daisey’s falsehoods, that one has to question either his goodwill or his grasp of the situation at hand. It’s really very gracious of Mr. Sorseth to take the time and make the effort to elegantly and politely dismantle Duerr’s hodgepodge ramblings.

  9. LIST

    Your choice to support this blatant liar undermines the intergirty of your theatre company.

    To say that audience members were fully aware that any part of this story could be fiction because it was presented in a theater is a huge pile of BS and everyone knows it.

    It does not matter one bit if some of his story was true because he fabricated much (most?) of the story but presented it as fact, not fiction. He is a liar and he lied for attention and ultimately money.

    This is the kind of “art” you want to support?

  10. Paul Greatbatch

    To the Management and Board of Directors,

    In light of the fact that Mr. Daisey’s show is a work of fiction put forth by a greedy and unscrupulous individual in search of his 15 seconds of notoriety, I would ask that you reconsider providing the venue for “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” and terminate his contract with your organization.

    I do not believe that perpetrating such notorious and false information—either under the guise of art, its interpretation, or so-called license to point out social injustice—is acceptable for any organization to present if it intends to be taken seriously in the future by supporters or artists alike.

    As a performer and arts supporter, this does nothing but serve as fodder for those who would denigrate the arts and continually campaign to cut back on funding.

    You may fill some seats in the short term, but I think it behooves you to consider the longer term consequences of presenting fiction as fact that will ultimately fail to not only have its intended effect, but cheapen the artistic integrity of your organization.

  11. Adam Maruyama

    The following is the modified text of a letter addressed to the Woolly Board of Directors and Messrs Shalwitz and Herrmann:

    While I can understand the forces of necessity that may compel Woolly to proceed with its encore presentation of Mr. Daisey’s work, I certainly cannot understand—and explicitly condemn—the thoughts Messrs Shalwitz and Herrman expressed in their response, and call upon them to reconsider their response to this relevant and timely controversy.

    The response penned jointly by Messrs Shalwitz and Herrmann is right in pointing out the impact of Mr. Daisey’s work; it is wrong, however, in its conscious decision to gloss over the factual inaccuracies in Mr. Daisey’s play, going so far as to refer to them as “what it [i.e. This American Life] calls ‘fabrications,’” as if there were some doubt. As of the same day Messrs Shalwitz and Hermann wrote their response, Mr. Daisey had acknowledge that parts of his account were fiction, and I therefore take issue to the wording used in the response that questions the factual validity of This American Life’s claims. Going further than that, however, I would suggest that Woolly Mammoth’s response neglects to take into account three major points of Mr Daisey’s work: (1) that it calls upon its audience to use the material presented in the play as a springboard to action; (2) that it consistently berates the media for lacking the courage to provide the “real facts” on the situation in China; and (3) that Mr. Daisey himself is profiteering from the same abuses he decries in the play.

    The most blatant implication of the recent revelations regarding Mr. Daisey’s work is that audiences were misled into sharing anecdotes in Mr. Daisey’s play as fact. At the end of his work, Mr. Daisey implored audiences to write to Apple about what they saw in the play, and even distributed flyers publicizing Apple and Foxconn’s contact information for viewers. His materials did not differentiate the factual statistics in his story from the fabricated vignettes; indeed, Mr. Daisey encouraged audience members to share the most emotionally poignant elements of the story with Apple. In essence, Mr. Daisey was asking audiences to use fictional situations as factual talking points in a discussion with a major U.S. corporation. While I do not personally condone Apple’s corporate decisions or business model, I categorically reject the idea that the best place for a dialogue regarding corporate responsibility begins in a muddle of factual statistics and emotionally-charged fiction.

    Although Mr. Daisey and several members of the artistic community—including Mr. Duerr above—have defended the work by saying that it was intended as a work of fiction rather than journalism, Mr. Daisey’s repeated attacks on the media during his play raise serious questions for me in this respect. At several points during the play, Mr. Daisey builds up his own quest while tearing down the mainstream media by asserting that he had the courage to go where they did not in exploring the working conditions at Foxconn and similar companies. By drawing a parallel between himself and journalists, Mr. Daisey—intentionally or unintentionally—paints himself as a journalist as well. Furthermore, many of the most powerful parts of the play were not the factual statistics that could have been discovered by an adept journalist, but those powerful emotional stories, such as that of the man who was mangled by an iPad-producing machine but who had never seen a functioning iPad, that were products solely of Mr. Daisey’s imagination. Mr. Daisey further implied that his work was by and large fact when he pointed out several areas that he had deliberately falsified—such as his translator’s name and appearance. It shocked me even more to know that Mr. Daisey, who claimed to be seriously concerned for his translator’s safety, used her true first name, and that journalists fact-checking his story were able to easily discern her identity. Obviously, the fabrications Mr. Daisey created to draw shock from his audiences were more well-designed than the ones he created to protect the sources and methods he used to gather his information.

    My final qualm with Mr. Daisey’s work is one that I raised shortly after seeing his show, but which merits even greater scrutiny in light of the discovery that his tale was largely fiction. By writing a for-profit play about the exploitation of workers in China, Mr. Daisey stands to profit as much from the supposed suffering of the workers at Foxconn as the workers themselves. To know that Mr. Daisey falsified elements of his story makes me question his motives even more—did he write these emotionally-charged vignettes out of genuine concern for the workers in China, or simply to make more money off of his work? The mere facts and statistics about Foxconn’s corporate behavior might not have drawn enough of an audience, and simple fiction regarding working conditions in factories have been in existence as long as the Industrial Revolution itself. If Mr. Daisey and, by extension, the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, are truly committed to the reform for which Mr. Daisey calls in his play, I suggest that they put that commitment into action by dedicating a portion of the proceeds to reform efforts, rather than calling unilaterally on viewers to do the same.

    In closing, I would like to urge Woolly to retract its previous response to the controversy surrounding Mr. Daisey’s work in favor of a more thoughtful response that takes into account the calls for action (using Mr. Daisey’s talking points as facts) in Mr. Daisey’s work, the numerous parallels Mr. Daisey draws between himself and the press, and the social responsibility inherent with presenting a work such as Mr. Daisey’s. Messers Shalwitz and Herrmann are right to point out the large social impact that Mr. Daisey’s work has—but neglected in their response to take into account the responsibility that is incumbent upon both the writer of that work and a theater presenting it. I strongly urge Woolly Mammoth to properly discharge its duty in the latter respect, and to call upon Mr. Daisey to do the same in the former.

  12. Terry

    Are we now to equate Mr Daisey’s monologue to the soliloquies of Hamlet? The audience somehow knows how to read between the lines so the grander message may be told. What rubbish!! The essential difference here is that Mr. Daisey never comes out of character. His fiction has been repeated on news programs and interviews well out of the confines of theater. I’m quite sure that once the Prince of Denmark leaves the theater so does his vengeance for our dear Claudius. Let’s come to our senses. Now that the truths have become lies Mr. Daisey’s message is marginalized beyond recovery. It is astonishing that your credible enterprise stands by the thinnest of artistic arguments to perpetuate this fraud.

  13. I encourage you to read Poynter.org’s piece, “4 important truths about Mike Daisey’s lies & the way ‘This American Life’ told them.” An excerpt:

    “Being that news stations are obviously a different kind of form than the theater we wanted to make sure that this thing is totally, utterly unassailable by anyone who might hear it,” wrote Reed in a email quoted from in the TAL retraction show.

    “I totally get that,” Daisey wrote back. “I want you to know that makes sense to me. A show built orally for the theater is different than what typically happens from news stations. I appreciate you taking the time to go over this.”

    When given a very clear description of the standard for accuracy the show needed to meet, Daisey responded with a theatrically sincere email that was deceptive bullsh*t. He plays just dumb enough to thank the producer for explaining this concept to him. (As if now he gets it.)

    –I have been a fan of Daisey’s since “21 Dog Years”; I saw “Agony” last year and blogged about it and recommended it to everyone I know. I am totally disillusioned by this episode. If he had said that he was taking artistic license, or dramatizing events, that would have been one thing, but it turns out he repeatedly stated he “saw” things that in fact he didn’t see, and he continued his falsehoods when he took his work out of the context of the theatre. I believe that in the process, he may have done damage to the cause he claims to care so much about, which is the greatest tragedy.

  14. I whole heartedly agree with Mr. Maruyama.

    I, too, “strongly urge Woolly Mammoth to properly discharge its duty in the latter respect, and to call upon Mr. Daisey to do the same in the former.”

    I also agree with the previous post from Terry.

    “Now that the truths have become lies Mr. Daisey’s message is marginalized beyond recovery.”

    It is only after-the-fact, and in the glaring light of day, that Mr. Daisy is parsing the distinction between his first-person/”this is what I saw”-style theatre and journalism. Up until this weekend, everyone who attended any of his solo performances accepted and enjoyed Mr. Daisy’s work as fact that was entertainingly packaged.

    Would the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, after facts are publicly revealed, continue present a work by a playwright who was an admitted plagiarist? (Mr. Daisy has performed the diametrical opposite – he invented facts that he publicly attributes to others…not just on stage in his “play” but in the media and in interviews.)

    When an actor leaves theatre, she/he stop saying their lines. The character and story are over when the lights come down. Mr. Daisy continued to share his “facts” in the media – as if they were his unique, objective experiences.

    If the Woolly Mammoth Theatre chooses to present this work, that’s their choice.

    But it’s my choice, also, to never patronize their theatre.

  15. MS

    ^^^ Exactly ^^^

    Fine it’s theater, but what about when Mr. Daisey steps off the stage and goes on a news program? Does the stage ever end for this man?

    Seriously, how the hell can you support this? Anything for the almighty dollar, right? It’s so ironic that my head is about to explode.

  16. Tony H

    Mr. Duerr,

    I can’t believe that you, or any thinking person, could have listened to (or read the transcript of) the TAL retraction show and would defend Mr. Daisey. Mr. Daisey tried to sabotage the fact checking of his show. He has repeatedly represented his “show” as the absolute truth. He never said his work was a “just a play.”

    Please read the transcript of the show before you let your own reputation be dragged down with Mike Daisey’s.

    I find it hard to believe that any reputable theatre will continue to showcase Mike Daisey.

  17. Pat S.

    I’m sorry, you support this fraud why?

    You have absolutely no integrity if you continue to associate with Mike Daisy and make money from his lies. Seriously, how do you not see that?

    Do the right thing and cancel this booking.

  18. Polly L.

    This is so clearly a monetary decision by Woolly Mammoth. Mr. Daisey was led by his ego and his vision of himself as a messiah and his lack of trust for his audience makes us all look bad. An embarrassing move by this theater company.

  19. Emma H

    I was truly shocked when I heard on the radio today that Mike Daisy would be back at the Woolly Mamouth. The response printed above boggles my mind. After hearing Mike Daisy on this AmericanLife admit that he lied I am surprised that anyone would want to listen to him. To me he appears to be someone completely without character. Woolly Mamouth is only out to profit from his lies. To think that this episode of dishonesty can be disguised as art is laughable.

  20. wmcguy

    I think it’s clear where Daisey went wrong, and the damage that he’s done to his reputation and, possibly, the cause he wrote the play in service of. I do think, however, that there is value in Wooly Mammoth bringing the show back. It would certainly be an opportunity to “spark conversation,” as Woolly’s mission states, but there’s a hitch: as of last Friday, the topic of conversation around this particular show has changed.

    “Agony and Ecstasy” can no longer be used as a springboard for discussion about the situation at Foxconn and other manufacturers. That ship has sailed. What it CAN be (and is already) is a jumping-off point for discussion about theatrical vs. journalistic truth, the responsibility of the storyteller and the requirements and constraints (if there are any) of political theatre. That seems to be a conversation worth having, and it’s certainly the conversation that any new audiences coming to see “Agony and Ecstasy” this summer will be anxious to have.

    To have it, of course, will require Mr. Daisey to be a bit more forthright about what exactly his process was for the piece, and what his own opinions are. If he’s going to claim storyteller’s privilege, then he needs to have the courage of his convictions, and be upfront about the decisions he made and why he made them. In return for his willingness to engage, Woolly would need to create a safe conversation space for Mr. Daisey and its audiences that wasn’t constantly at risk of devolving into a witch hunt where everyone just took turns pontificating about what a travesty it all was that he did what he did.

    This is a very valuable conversation to have, and that Woolly could use their remount of the show to really focus and expand it. I seriously hope that it embraces that opportunity, and continues the conversation that its audiences are now having, instead trying to force a discussion about a subject which Mr. Daisey has lost his claim of authority on.

    • Will Clarke

      The problem is that Agony and Ecstasy contains neither journalistic truth nor theatrical truth (if such a thing exists). The entire point of Daisey’s show, dubious experiences aside, is that workplace abuses as Apple manufacturing partners are common. From his monologue:

      “But I do know that in my first two hours of my first day at that gate, I met workers who were fourteen years old, I met workers who were thirteen years old, I met workers who were twelve.”

      The fact is that underage labor at Apple suppliers is very very rare. If this didn’t literally happen, but statistics backed up the idea that an average two hour visit to Foxconn would turn up twelve year olds, I’d say fine. Dramatic license. But it’s not true in any sense of the word true, journalistic or otherwise. Mike Daisey lied on a very deep conceptual level, not a superficial one.

    • richardpettifer

      He is being as forthright as possible at the moment – there’s just a lot to explore. An artist works in the grey area. There are not clear definitions here – despite the amount of voices which unhelpfully offer black-and-white clarity.

  21. drow

    it’s easy, trivial even, to have an impact on world events when you’re lying through your teeth. criminals and tyrants alike have known that for centuries.

    • Kilgore Trout

      Criminals and tyrants and previous commanders-in-chiefs of the good ol’ us of a. Remember W. lying through his teeth about the presence of WMDs? Bet ol’ George believed he was serving “essential truths”… I’m also confused by that phrase “essential truth”… Sounds a bit like Newspeak to me… Does it mean higher truth than truth, or does it refer to some kind of nugget you’d find if you bothered to chisel all the muck of lies obscuring it? I’d really love to know.

      As far as Woolly’s decision to move forward with something that’s been discredited decisively by pretty much everyone out there except sycophants and muddle headed relativists… I find it mystifying. Is it ticket sales? Be honest… More honest at least than the claptrap you’ve used to justify bringing the dude back. As a fellow artists I find your reasoning shameful, and as cynical and selective as the folks that justified going to war with Iraq… Thankfully the consequences don’t have that weight… Theatre means jack to most Americans… But you are giving folks who don’t care- or worse, folks that are actively engaged in dismantling artistic expression – ammunition by putting this guy on your stage…

  22. HW

    I am deeply disappointed that you would produce this play a second time. Why don’t you instead offer refunds to those of us who unwittingly supported this work of fiction posing as fact?

    This has never been an argument about whether or not different standards of storytelling apply in the theater versus what happens in a newsroom. Mike Daisey sat in a room with all of us night after night and claimed that what he was was saying actually happened. It would not have been a lesser production had Mr. Daisey come clean about the fact that some of the elements of his story were fabricated for dramatic effect – we are all theater-goers, we know the deal. But that’s not what he claimed, and that’s why he is rightfully being called to account for his actions.

    Your claim that this theatrical piece is impactful and therefore should be given another run is specious. All dramatic work should, at the very least, have integrity. This work has none and Woolly Mammoth has greatly diminished their own integrity by supporting Mike Daisey and this endeavor.

  23. Jon

    “It is rare and exciting when a work of theatre has the kind of impact on world events that Mike Daisey’s show has had”

    Really? Yeah, that’s pretty easy to do when you present fiction as fact.

    Stop trying to be so ‘artistic’ and ‘intelligent’ about this and grow up. Seriously, cancel the show like adults and stop trying to pretend there is some greater meaning to this fiasco. You are like a parent who lets their little brat do whatever he wants rather than have the balls to dish out some consequences. And if there was EVER a childish brat it’s Mike Daisey!

    • richardpettifer

      If you think it’s that easy, Jon, why don’t you go ahead and do it.

      There is definitely great significance to this conversation, ones that Mike doesn’t even know about.

  24. John

    Unreal. I can’t believe this.

    Cash, money, cash, money, publicity, publicity, publicity.
    I’m upset. And I think the letter is condescending.

  25. Pingback: Further Thoughts on the Mike Daisey Episode |

  26. Mike S.

    You guys should be ashamed of yourselves for continuing to do the wrong thing. You don’t think a fraud has been perpetrated against your paying customers?

    From the Wooly Mammoth playbill…

  27. This is probably the best commentary I have read about Daisey’s lies, and more importantly, his reaction to being caught.

    Brilliantly put…
    “Except Daisey has undermined his own cause by introducing us to a new genre of storytelling: counterfeit truth.

    Counterfeit truth, of course, is built out of the thing it’s imitating, just like counterfeit cash is made out of paper and ink. That doesn’t make it authentic, and authenticity is the intangible thing that makes it worth something.

    Yes, you can build in various safeguards, but when you hand over cash, just like when you tell someone a true story, it’s the trust between the giver and the receiver that makes the exchange work. When that trust is broken… sorry, Mr. Daisey, but your money is no good here — and neither is your word.”

    The entire piece…


  28. Tony H

    “TAL…has retracted the story due to WHAT IT CALLS FABRICATIONS in Mike’s tale. ”

    What do you call them?

  29. richardpettifer

    Everyone who is accusing Wooly mammoth of profiteering should give that big pile of wealth they are sitting on to the nearest charity.

    I highly doubt that a theatre company would be so opportunistic as to put on a show in this context with the motivation of profit. That is what Wall St would do.

    • Kentucky


      Why wouldn’t a theater company want to profit? Why is that reserved for Wall St.? That fact remains that this piece of “art” presented by Woolly Mammoth (and other theaters) essentially ripped off every audience member that ever paid to see it. I realize that it was actually Mike Daisey’s fault that this fraud was committed, not the various theaters, but now that the truth is out Woolly Mammoth should have the courage and integrity to cancel this show and give a voice to more deserving art.

      But why won’t they do that? Money. They don’t want to take the financial hit if they were to do the right thing and cancel this show.

      Mike Daisey continues to claim he lied because he “knew the work was so good” and Woolly has made the same claims. How can anyone call this good work? By DEFINITION this is terrible work. The entire house of cards crumbles when the fabrications are removed. It is NOT good work and it is NOT good theater and does not deserve the right of having an audience anymore.

  30. David Umansky

    David U.

    I have been thinking about last night’s discussion. While I am critical of what Daisey did and believe he is still not telling all of the truth, I think we need to look at this in some perspective. A human being made a mistake (not unusual), but no one died and no other person was harmed. He did not Jeff,

    I have been thinking about last night’s discussion. While I am critical of what Daisey did and believe he is still not telling all of the truth, I think we need to look at this in some perspective. A human being made a mistake (not unusual), but no one died and no other person was harmed. He did not win an election on false pretenses and did not steal a lot of money.

    Daisey’s crime was being self righteous and getting caught in a lie. The media love those situations and will rightfully take down anyone in that situation. In most cases (expect for Republican presidential candidates) the person takes a good beating and generally suffers for the mistake.

    It is time for Daisey move on.

    But, Wooly should not conitnue to wallow in this mess by presenting the show again.

  31. It seems to me that there are some interesting options for WM:

    (i) instead of A/G why not dramatize the Ira Glass interview with Daisey? And add a more current statement of the Apple China policy based on accurate reports as the Ira Glass program did.
    (ii) if the show is repeated, have individuals placed on the stage at all appropriate points in the monologue with signs saying “this never happened;
    this is a fabricatio”
    (iii) replace it with another docudrama that has integrity (some were cited in the Peter Marks article)

  32. Thank you all for your responses. Due to the overwhelming amount of comments we’ve received so far we’re going to disable all comments from this point forward. If you would like to reach out to Woolly feel free to email discussion@woollymammoth.net or leave a comment on our Facebook page or tweet as us.