Friday, September 09, 2011

Mike Daisey interview:

When I meet Mike Daisey at a restaurant in his Brooklyn neighbourhood, he is understandably preoccupied. He is soon to deliver a 24-hour monologue, solo, at an arts festival in Portland, Oregon, and the ''gigantic story'' is still in development.

''I wanted to create an artwork that was too large to be contained,'' the professional storyteller says. ''At 24 hours, it's so far beyond even the traditional sort of marathon performance that it inherently alters your consciousness.''

Daisey describes the work, All the Hours in the Day, as ''a very large canvas'', which will range across ideas from Puritanism and American national character to the relationship between gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and musician Warren Zevon - ''10 or 11 storylines in all''. The festival program describes his mission, 3½ years in the making, as Scheherazade-like and insane.

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At this point, even Daisey doesn't know if his ambitious plan is achievable, ''which is an interesting tension to have in a performance, to not actually know if you can complete [it]'', he says.

That is because this show, like all his others, will be performed extemporaneously - a breathtaking high-wire act in which Daisey's fluid monologue is supported only by an outline on the desk in front of him. There are no rehearsals, no script, no memorisation and no supporting cast.