Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Clay McLeod Chapman:

But what separated the Red Room from all the other black boxes, in my mind at least, was the devil-may-care attitude towards its programming. The doors were open to anybody. And I mean anybody. If you had a show, well, the Red Room had a slot for you to fill. Bring us your poor, huddled productions—and more often than not, they did. No other theater around town gave this many undergrads, no-grads, and MFAers their first shot under the fresnels. I saw my fair share of crappy, crappy theater in the Red Room. Hell—I was responsible for my fair share of it. More than my fair share. But I also got to see the very first production by The Debate Society in the Red Room. I got to perform with Daniel Handler (a.k.a Lemony Snicket) in the Red Room. Mike Daisey. But most importantly, I got to create theatre that, regardless of how few people actually saw it, remain personal benchmarks to my own theatrical education onstage.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Today Private First Class Bradley Manning will be sentenced. To mark this occasion, I’m releasing an audio recording of my monologue
BRADLEY MANNING’S WAR, recorded on April 22nd at the Public Theater in Joe’s Pub in New York City.

This recording is the first time I had ever tackled the subject aloud, and is raw and ungainly in places—it is what it is, a single public conversation on a single night. But aesthetic considerations are secondary to my concerns as a citizen, and with the amount of disinformation and spin clouding the issues of Mr. Manning’s actions, motives, and disposition, if this piece is even slightly helpful in creating a human connection for people it will be worthwhile.

For a remarkable and well-told story of Mr. Manning’s in another medium, I unreservedly recommend Chase Madar’s
THE PASSION OF BRADLEY MANNING, which is without a doubt the best book on the subject that has been written so far. Mr. Madar does a comprehensive, clear-eyed, and humane job covering the facts of the case. You can purchase his book here.

I’ll be returning to Mr. Manning and his war this fall, when I begin performances of
THE SECRET WAR: a monologue about three whistleblowers: Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg. It's also a story about why we keep secrets, and the price we pay for keeping them.

You can download an MP3 of the performance here:


Monday, August 12, 2013

Hello All,

This fall we open the Public Theater’s season by launching our largest work ever—
ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, a 29-night monologue.

This show is so crazy and so epic that I’m going to do something new and use a Q&A format to address the many questions it raises.

Q: So—a 29-night monologue. What does that mean exactly?

A: It means that the show is 29 nights long, and each and every night is a completely new full-length show. And these stories are braided and woven together to create something completely new: a living theatrical novel set against a magical vision of New York City. At 44 hours long it is the largest story ever attempted in the American theater.

Q: Are you crazy?

A: Oh yes. Absolutely. If there was any doubt before, this should settle the matter.

Q: Why are there 29 monologues?

A: Because it is a complete lunar cycle, beginning on a new moon on September 5th and continuing each and every night at the Public until the following new moon on October 3rd. That’s why it is called ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON. And there’s a painting for each performance.

Q: A painting? What do you mean?

A: I commissioned Larissa Tokmakova, a fantastic Russian painter I have known for decades, to create 29 enormous oil paintings, one for each performance.

Q: What are the paintings of?

A: The paintings follow the arc of the show, and are keyed primarily to archetypal cards from the Tarot deck.

Q: Can we see some of the art?

A: Absolutely! Larissa has been working for months with me, and they are absolutely magnificent. Here’s the Fool:

Fool Web

And here’s Justice. Each painting has taken weeks of work, and has incredible depth.

Justice Web

And here’s the High Priestess. If you’re familiar with the traditional Rider-Waite tarot, you’ll recognize how we’ve updated and reinterpreted the figures. I love what she’s done.

Priestess Web

The paintings are enormous and brilliant in person—here’s a candid shot of Larissa at work in her studio, and you can see how huge each one is:

Larissa Web

Q: So every night has a different painting. Does the story of that evening connect to the painting?

A: Absolutely. They were conceived together.

Q: And does each night have a title?

A: They do indeed—I’ve included a full run-down on all the nights and their titles at the end of this message.

Q: This sounds like it’s going to have very expensive tickets, like every other gigantic marathon theater piece I’ve ever heard of.

A: No. In fact, it is as cheap as we could literally make it—I went to the mat for this. It is $20 a night for Public Theater members, or if you use the code DAISEY. And get this: there are no food or drink minimums for this show at Joe’s Pub.

Q: That’s insane.

A: It gets even better. There’s also a podcast.

Q: That’s unpossible. This is the American theater! We don’t know how to make any of our work live on the interwebs! It’s always 1886 in the American theater! What are you talking about?

A: Every single show will be podcast, free and without restriction. Each night’s show will be up by noon the following day. That means this show isn’t just for people in New York City—it’s free for people everywhere, forever.

Q: If I am in New York City, what incentivizes me to come to the show? Why not sit in my apartment with no pants and just listen to the podcast?

A: Aside from the magical energy of the living theater, being part of an epic historical storytelling event, and seeing amazing pieces of art in a theatrical context? Nothing except the premiums, I guess.

Q: What premiums?

A: If you come and see multiple shows, you get better and better gifts.

See 3 shows: You receive a limited edition poster designed by the Public featuring each of Larissa’s 29 paintings, along with the titles of each and every night, signed by the artist. I know this is going to be fantastic, because I want one for myself. ;)

See 7 shows: You get the poster above, and receive a limited edition print of one of the 29 paintings, suitable for framing. You get to choose which print you’d like to have.

See 10 shows: You’ll have an incredible trove of images. You receive a framed, limited edition poster that includes 29 images of artwork, signed by both the artist and myself, plus prints of *all* 29 individual pieces.

See 15 shows: You get all of the above, plus you receive the book we’re making. It’s going to be a coffee table style book which contains images of all 29 pieces of artwork, along with early sketches of paintings, scans of my notes commentary from myself, Larissa, and Jean-Michele about the show—we’ve never been able to make something like this before. I’m very excited.

See 22 shows: All of the above, plus a special invite to the closing night cocktail party and a special cameo appearance in the show. This will be really fun: I’ll interview you after you get your tickets, and you or a loved one will make a delightful “appearance” as a character in one of the remaining monologues.

See all 29 shows: Everything above, plus a very special dinner with me, Jean-Michele, and Larissa in The Library at The Public. If you’re part of the very special crowd that manages to take on this entire story, I want to have dinner with you—we’ll all have earned it. This level also comes with a certificate for Sustained Fanatical Dedication to Marathon Theater Events, and a kiss on the cheek from Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater. (Exchangeable for a hug if you are shy.)

Q: Holy shitballs.

A: Indeed.

Q: Okay, if I don’t come every single night—though I’m tempted now!—how will I follow what’s going on? Will I be lost?

A: No—a lot of my work is making sure that each of the 29 nights has a theatrical dramatic arc, and is a full story by itself. Audience members should be able to walk in cold at any point and have a very satisfying evening. Those who come to multiple shows or follow the podcast will start to see the connections, and the larger story unfurling for them.

Q: How do I get tickets?

A: You can order tickets by going to the Public’s website and ordering them here, using the special code DAISEY for $20 tickets:

All the Faces of the Moon

You can also use the code DAISEY over the phone by calling 212.967.7555. You can also save a bundle by buying directly from the box office, as there are no additional processing fees when you buy in person, and code DAISEY works there as well.

Q: What about you? How are you feeling about the show with a month to go?

A: I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m pregnant. I’m worried about the details, but I’m amazed to see stories that I’ve had gestating for a decade coming to the fore. I’m very excited to make something truly new. It feels good to be making something where I feel certain I’m the only person who can make it—like a crazy opportunity I hope to live up to. A lot of the show is about art and the power of ordinary magic in this extraordinary city—I’m hoping the magic this needs will find me when we call for it in the room together.

And I hope that you will join us.


Moon Poster Web

World Premiere


Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory
Paintings by Larissa Tokmakova
Assistant Directed by Tessa Siegel
Photograph by Sabrina Fonseca

September 5 - October 3, 2013

Mike Daisey returns to The Public with a breathtakingly epic theatrical event: a story told over the course of a lunar month, a new monologue every night, in 29 unique consecutive performances. Each evening stands alone as a single episode, but together they create a living theatrical novel set against the secret history of New York City – a city that is loved and loathed and larger than life. From Pentecostal church services held in IKEA showrooms to Nikola Tesla's laboratories in the Lower East Side, from the infamous Mole People's convocations deep beneath the subway lines to the hidden and terrifying plans of Robert Moses, Daisey weaves a story of ordinary magic in a most extraordinary city. Night after night he will strive like Sheherazade to tell the largest story ever attempted in the American theater.

Each night Daisey will be joined onstage by one of 29 oil paintings commissioned and created for this show by the Russian artist Larissa Tokmakova, illustrating and illuminating the story he’s telling. Audiences can experience these performances live, and also follow online by listening to the free podcast as the story unfolds.

“The master storyteller...what distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur.”
– The New York Times


Sept 5 -
Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

Sept 6 -
The Fool Who Walks Through Walls

Sept 7 -
The Magician and the Fish

Sept 8 -
She’s the High Priestess to You, Jack

Sept 9 -
Mercury Is a Messenger Who Will Not Wait

Sept 10 -
The Empress Holds Her Cards Close

Sept 11 -
The Naked Emperor Is Still Laughing

Sept 12 - Venus Is a Star Who Gets What She Wants

Sept 13 -
The Hierophant Plays It Loose

Sept 14 -
The Lovers Struggle To Take What They Want

Sept 15 -
Your Chariot Awaits, My Sweet

Sept 16 -
Mars Is a Soldier Whose Hands Are Red

Sept 17 -
That Hideous Strength

Sept 18 -
The Hermit Stands at the Turn of the River

Sept 19 -
This Is How We Make Our Fortune

Sept 20 -
Our Justice Runs on a Tilted Table

Sept 21 -
Jupiter Is a King Who Never Came Back

Sept 22 -
A Hanged Man Knows How To Bluff

Sept 23 -
The Untitled

Sept 24 -
Temperance Under the Gun

Sept 25 -
The Devil Always Plays to a Draw

Sept 26 -
Paying the Rent in the Tower of Song

Sept 27 -
Saturn Is a Father Devouring His Children

Sept 28 -
If You Wish Upon a Star You Will Regret It

Sept 29 -
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Sept 30 -
The Sun Is a Blind and Burning Thing

Oct 1 -
A Flaw in Your Judgment

Oct 2 -
The World Is More Than We Will Ever Know

Oct 3 -
Last Call


Mike Daisey (Creator and Performer), hailed as “the master storyteller” by The New York Times, is the preeminent monologist in the American theater today. He has been compared to a modern-day Mark Twain for his provocative monologues that combine the political and the personal, weaving secret histories with hilarity and heart. As a playwright, his transcript of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was downloaded over 100,000 times the first week it was made available. Under a revolutionary open license it has seen more than eighty productions around the world and been translated into six languages. He has performed across five continents, from Off-Broadway to remote islands in the South Pacific, from the Sydney Opera House to abandoned theatres in post-Communist Tajikistan. He’s been a commentator and contributor to the New York Times, WIRED, Vanity Fair, Slate, Salon, NPR and the BBC, as well as a guest on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” In a brief, meteoric career with This American Life, his two shows are the most listened to and downloaded episodes of that program’s eighteen year history. He has been nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award and two Drama League Awards, and is the recipient of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award, five Seattle Times Footlight Awards, the Sloan Foundation’s Galileo Prize and a MacDowell Fellowship. He will premiere The Secret War, a monologue about three men who were driven to reveal secrets: Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Daniel Ellsberg, in an examination of how we all keep secrets and the price we pay for them, this fall in theaters across America.

Jean-Michele Gregory (Director) works as a director, editor, and dramaturg, focusing on extemporaneous theatrical works that live in the moment they are told. Working primarily with solo artists, for over a decade she has been Mike Daisey’s chief collaborator, directing his monologues at venues across the globe including the Public Theater, the Sydney Opera House, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, the Spoleto Festival, T:BA Festival, Under the Radar Festival, and many more. She has also directed New York storyteller Martin Dockery (Wanderlust, The Surprise), as well as author and performer Suzanne Morrison (Yoga Bitch, Optimism). Her productions have received the Bay Area Critics Circle Award (Great Men of Genius), nominations from the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle (If You See Something Say Something), and five Seattle Times Footlight Awards (21 Dog Years, The Ugly American, Monopoly!, The Last Cargo Cult, and The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs).

Larissa Tokmakova (Artist) grew up and studied painting in Russia, and moved to New York in 1991. She is a faculty member of the St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, and has taught painting at Ateliers Fourwinds (France), and the Hebei Academy (China). This past winter she appeared in PS122's production of Kristen Kosmas's There There, which will be revived this January at On the Boards in Seattle. Editor of the feature films Horrible Child and the forthcoming Wendell & the Lemon, and the mother of two-year-old triplets, Larissa lives and paints in Bushwick. Her work can be viewed online at


Click here or call 212.967.7555 or visit the Box Office and in all places use the code DAISEY.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Orange Is the New Black: A Year in a Women's Prison:

LS: The fact that such basic needs aren't provided for is one of the surprising things in reading the book. So is the whole commissary system, particularly how much they charge for things that would be cheaper in the outside world -- like a portable headset radio for $42.90 that "would have cost about $7 on the street." In the meantime, prisoners are making basically slave wages for the work they do.

PK: Yeah. At Danbury, as I understood it, the commissary sales were what funded any programs that were offered. Programs that, in fact, were required -- you were required to "program" as part of the terms of your incarceration. Those were all funded by commissary sales. I think some folks look at the commissary system and say, "Well, why should they be able to buy anything?" But at Danbury those purchases fund any programs that exist.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

NSA lexicon: How James Clapper and other U.S. officials mislead the American public without lying. - Slate Magazine:

Collect. If an intelligence official says that the NSA isn’t “collecting” a certain kind of information, what has he actually said? Not very much, it turns out. One of the NSA’s foundational documents states that “collection” occurs not when the government acquires information but when the government “selects” or “tasks” that information for “subsequent processing.” Thus it becomes possible for the government to acquire great reams of information while denying that it is “collecting” anything at all.