‘Steve Jobs Sold Out,’ Says Performer Behind Powerful Drama of Apple’s History

The sufferings of Saint Steve and the shame of FoxConn.

An older patron with silver hair huddled next to her husband. They were Public Theater regulars, she explained. “I have always hated computers, but I do love my iPhone. It was just easy to understand.” She pulled it out of her purse and stared at it, holding it away from her face like a dead animal. “I can’t look at this now without feeling guilty.”

“We suck each others dicks all day long about how fantastic our technology is, and the people who make it are dying on the job, not because it would eat into profit margins to change things, but because it would require someone to actually give a damn,” Mr. Daisey told Betabeat when we chatted by phone the following day.

Onstage Mr. Daisey was able to produce impressive gysers of spit while spewing his invective and humor. The phone made a nice buffer.

Wasn’t it a bit hypocritical of Mr. Daisey to condemn Apple when he continued to buy the company’s products? “There are no alternatives in our ecosystem,” Mr. Daisey pointed out, noting that FoxConn makes more than half the electronics purchased by Americans each year. For all I know, my Motorola may have been made there as well. “What I can do is to force people to wrestle with the reality of how their precious gadgets are made.”

The recent death of Jobs has made the play only more timely. “A lot of people treat Steve like a revolutionary saint who wasn’t aware of how, exactly his products got made,” he said. “I wish I was capable of that kind of delusion.”

By and large, Jobs was hailed on his death as a genius and a humanitarian. Many pointed back to his poignant speech on mortality and pursuing one’s passions, which he gave at Stanford’s 2005 commencement, as a reminder of what kind of man he was.

“How can you watch the speech and hear him espouse these ideals—a man who never gave a dime to a good cause in his life, who co-opted the language of revolution to his cause, selling things,” wondered Mr. Daisey.

We wondered if Mr. Daisey considered toning the piece down, out of respect for the Apple founder and his long struggle with cancer. The play hasn’t been softened, Mr. Daisey said, but it has been changed to point out that a man regarded by many as a god was indeed mortal in the end. “To be honest, his passing allowed me to see him more clearly—he was my hero, after all,” Mr. Daisey told us with a sigh. “Now that’s he’s gone I can accept how completely he sold out the ideals of his youth.”


Check out the second installment of Betabeat’s new web: The Pitch.