Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Apple I Is Coming to Woolly!

The best things always come out of no where.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a gentleman who informed me that 1) he was extremely excited to come to our Steve Wozniak event on August 4th, and 2) that he owns an original Apple I.

Not only does he own one of these beauties, but he’d like to display his as a special addition to the Apple Orchard on Saturday August 4th. Amazing!

This remarkable and revolutionary machine is significant not only as the first ready-made personal computer, but as a herald to the dawn of a new age in which computing was made accessible to the masses.  Through the Apple I, Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak transformed the personal computer from something of interest to specialists and hobbyists into a tool the common man could understand and use.

The first Apple I was introduced on April 1, 1976, by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ron Wayne:  the original founders of Apple Computers.  Wozniak designed and built the printed circuit board, in his bedroom in Los Altos, California, which would soon become the Apple I.  Jobs was so impressed by the machine that the two joined forces and founded Apple Computers, with Jobs taking on the promotion and advertising of the Apple I.  When Wozniak and Jobs demonstrated the new technology at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in May 1976 in Palo Alto, few seemed to take the device seriously – except for Paul Terrell.  The owner of Byte Shop, the only chain of computer stores at the time, Terrell was so impressed by the Apple I that he promised to buy 50 full assembled versions of the machine for $500 each.  However, Terrell insisted that the circuit boards come fully assembled rather than as a part of a kit (as Wozniak had originally designed).  So Jobs and Woz pooled their resources to fund production costs, Jobs selling his VW bus for $1,500 and Wozniak his precious Hewlett-Packard 65 calculator for $250.  After filling Terrell’s order in just 30 days, the pair continued to produce the Apple I, making another 50 to sell to friends and another 100 to sell through vendors for $666.66 each…

…which is hilarious, considering it just recently went for $374,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in June. Of the 200 Apple I’s originally produced, it is believed that fewer than 50 survive, only six of which are known to be operational.

But is there really a price-tag one can put on an object which started a revolution?

It is especially cool that we’ll have this object to share with our audiences during the Woz Event at Woolly since the Apple I was, essentially, his baby. When you come to Woolly on August 4th, be sure to take a good look at what truly launched America’s desire to put a personal computer in every room.

~ Compiled by Melanie Harker, Connectivity Associate & Adelaide Waldrop, Connectivity Summer Volunteer


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From Mike Daisey – Why I Am Still Performing THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY

The Washington City Paper cover story by Chris Klimek uses a classic journalism storytelling technique: it asks a question at the end of its first movement that serves as the thesis around which the story turns. The question is:

“Why is Daisey still performing a play that brought him so much disgrace?”

It’s a great question. It’s an essential question, and despite all the interviews and writing around this run no one has actually directly asked me this question, so I thought I would do my best to answer it today.

It’s been a hard thing to look clearly at myself and see how I failed to live up to my expectations. I abused the trust of the public, let down my colleagues, and I failed to live up to my obligations to my craft. In the wake of the This American Life retraction, I posted a full apology for my behavior which you can read here.

After the public story went quieter, it was time to really begin to examine what I should do. Rather than go silent, I decided to remove all of the material that was contested in the TAL retraction and rebuild the show.

To some, this may seem absurd—after all, the show has been discredited, so why bother? I won’t lie and say that there wasn’t a strong temptation to simply cancel everything. It would have been much easier to drop everything and move on.

But this story was always much larger than I am, and the central tenet of the show’s work—to connect the audience empathically with the brutal circumstances under which the things they use every day are made—is absolutely true and always has been. No one contests that—not TAL, who interviewed Charles Duhigg, not Apple’s own auditors, not the NGOs who have reported on these issues for years and years.

Simply put, my failure to live up to what this story needed from me doesn’t absolve me of the responsibility to tell it right.

It’s similar to what so many have been demanding from Apple—I want them to make it a priority to consider how they are building their devices, and to take real measures to consider human rights and living wages in the process of their manufacturing. Just as I expect Apple and other manufacturers to reform their ways, I needed to look to my own house and do the same.

If I expect them to build an ethical iPhone, then I had better build an ethical monologue.

Classically, people go to ground in literary or journalism scandals that involve falsehoods and the betrayal of the public’s trust. But I am not a journalist, nor is this a book. It’s a piece of theater, which only exists when it is performed. As a consequence, the very thing that makes it ephemeral affords a unique opportunity to do the right thing, and make this story work ethically in the room.

One of the interesting things about theater is that it is not a broadcast medium—it is a communal undertaking. People choose to participate in theater, and my obligation is to those who are participating in the room. People who do not want to hear this work have a simple alternative—they can stay home.

This new version of THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS has been performed in five cities since the closing of the show at the Public. Based on deeply unscientific exit polling, audience surveying, and random questioning after shows, we believe that only about half our audiences are even aware of the TAL retraction. Many nights the number feels like it may actually be lower.

This creates a fascinating environment: What does an artist owe his audiences, especially when they are coming in with radically different expectations? How do we shape a show that works for most people in the room?

Peter Marks, the head critic for the Washington Post, said this in his review:

“Daisey does not use this revisit to Woolly to analyze his behavior in this affair, the unfortunate distraction that has turned Jobs’s “Agony” into Daisey’s. It’s a major disappointment…what’s missing is Daisey’s mind trained on the task of deconstructing his actions. Is that as important as the question of how thousands of Chinese workers are treated, making the products we love? Of course not. But it wasn’t Daisey’s listeners, or the media, that prompted this need. It’s unfortunate that some of us want the matter to intrude, however artfully this storyteller might weave it.”

While I can understand the desire for me to explain my actions, I think doing so in the course of AGONY/ECSTASY would be unethical because it would make the show more about me than about the very real issues and real people the show addresses.

Instead, in this new version, I try to make it very clear that I am a storyteller. I remind audiences, point blank, that they do not need to believe anything they hear on this stage, and urge them to find tools to investigate for themselves beyond the theater.

I think the new version also touches more deeply on the connections between rural China and the Special Economic Zones, and the circumstances that make work at Foxconn and other manufacturers an attractive option for many. It endeavors to humanize and complexify those relationships without letting the crimes that have been committed, and how we share that responsibility, off the hook.

The six minutes that were cut gave me the time to do this. Artists are thieves; this piece would have been nothing without the work of so many who know far more about China than I ever will and took the time to talk to me about it, or whose works I learned from. Time on stage is precious, and I have tried to make something that I hope does service to that time.

I do believe the work is stronger today than it was before; each audience member will make their own judgments, and that is wonderful. The show is not apologetic, because that would be terrible theater, and inappropriate in the show’s narrative arc. However, in the final moments of the show, at its climax, I do say this:

Steve Jobs, this genius of design and form, blinded himself to the most essential law of design: that the way in which a thing is made is a part of the design itself.

He forgot that.

And so did I.

It won’t be enough for many. That’s the way it is—it’s never enough, it can’t be. But I leave it there as part of the compact I have with those who choose to participate in it with me. And I say it because it is true.

Every night people walk in through the door who have never heard this story before, and I am honored to have the work of sharing it with them. When I talk to them after the show, and I can tell they are seeing their devices in a new way, I know that it would have been a crime to run away from my responsibilities and let this work die because of where I let it down.

The answer to why I am still performing this show that brought me so much disgrace is that now, when I tell it in the room, it brings me grace.

~ Mike Daisey, Creator and Performer of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

You can read this post on his website, here.

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A Note from the Dramaturg – Apple in China REDUX

During a public forum at Woolly Mammoth with Mike Daisey earlier this year, Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz noted, “One might hope that the dialogue around this show helps the whole field engage in a discussion about the ethics and boundaries of documentary theatre. It combines two words – documentary and theatre – and while theatre is mostly about illusion, documentary is mostly about truth.”

With The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike utilizes real life events and sparks our curiosity about how our electronic devices are made. The production has played a vital role in focusing national attention on labor practices at factories in China that manufacture products for Apple and other US companies.  Mike’s piece sits on a continuum of activist art that includes diverse sets of tools, goals, and rules of engagement. Some pieces on this spectrum adhere as closely as possible to documentary truth, whereas others utilize theatrical illusion to make their points in vivid and memorable ways. Wherever on the spectrum a particular documentary theatre artist lies, his or her first task is to help orient the audience as to how literally the story’s words should be taken.

Tectonic Theater’s The Laramie Project strings together verbatim content from interviews with a town’s residents and tries to make sense of the real-life murder of Matthew Shepard. Anna Deavere Smith performs text verbatim from interviews, but creatively weaves them together to create an emotional and intellectual journey for the viewer around a given issue. Ping Chong & Company’s community-specific oral history pieces often cast community members themselves as actors. Peter Weiss’ The Investigation draws liberally from the Auschwitz trial transcripts. In No Child… (performed at Woolly in 2008), solo-artist Nilaja Sun doesn’t draw from verbatim interviews, but performs her own memories as sketches of the children, teachers, and other faces of a Bronx high school. The structure, form and rules placed on each of these works are linked with the desired goal of each artist for what they hope the audience will be thinking when they leave the theatre.

Mike Daisey would describe his work as stories that weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted extemporaneous material that changes with every performance. Rather than utilizing verbatim text, Mike utilizes the lens of the individual. He lets his experiences work on him, simmer (often for long periods of time), and then reemerge in extemporaneous form. While Mike carefully outlines each section of his monologues, every performance is a fresh ‘retelling’ of the story. The type of theatre Mike has most frequently been associated with is the memoir tradition pioneered by Spalding Gray. Gray brought the monologue form into great popularity in the 1980s; in monologues such as Swimming to Cambodia, he made the personal and stream-of-consciousness political, and was mesmerizing doing it. It’s also possible to see some of Mark Twain in Mike’s work. Twain made the irascible raconteur political, and remained pithy and wise even when he was most outrageous. Mike’s works play on the experience-of-the-individual as political, and live in the tension between outrage and wisdom, and between comedy and tragedy.

How literally is the audience to take the words of this particular type of theatre? One notable aspect of Mike’s works is the trope of the bumbling non-expert, our ‘hero’ who will walk us through how he was transformed by a given experience. This hero is a visible investigator. In almost all of the documentary theatre examples given earlier, the investigator is invisible — only the found content is edited and formed into a theatrical whole. The invisibility of that investigator gives the illusion of objectivity – but as we know from documentary film, the juxtaposition and editing of material is always subjectively constructed. The ‘character’ of Mike, however, is front and center in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and Mike’s other monologues – constantly acknowledging the existence of narrative manipulation.

In watching the ‘character’ of Mike onstage, we see one man who has a question, and sets out on a Quixotic mission to answer it. We hear an account of his remembered experiences juxtaposed with the history of a technological innovation giant, Apple. As an audience, what is our reaction? We’ve just experienced a catharsis – we see our relationships with our devices in a new light. We’re also hungry to stock up on more information.The trope of this singular ‘hero’ inspires discussion and leads the audience to find out more beyond the story of this one man.This particular production paves a path for the audience to do that additional investigation – pointing us to those very reports, resources and tools. We, the audience, become the hero in our own quest to understand and take ownership of the most pressing challenges in our world today. The choice is ours.

The controversy sparked by The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has illuminated what happens when an artist falls off course. In his passion to advocate for fair labor practices, Mike allowed the audience to believe each detail of his story was literally true, although it lay squarely in that theatrical zone between truth and illusion. The citizen and activist Mike has a wealth of fact to bring to his craft. In the show, these facts are marshaled for the character ‘Mike’ in a compelling way. In the previous iterations of the production, in a few key instances the character ‘Mike’ was also granted license to report things that happened in the Specialized Economic Zone (the SEZ), though they did not happen directly to him. There was a gap between the facts of preparation and the performance itself. In the performance you are about to see, the six minutes of contested material have been cut, the complexities of the controversy incorporated, and new material added covering developments that have occurred since the production was birthed in 2010. This reframing adds another layer of complexity to how we view this narrative. If we look at the rules and specific form Mike has pioneered over his entire theatrical career, we can see that when it’s applied to the content of this production, a fascinating tension develops. A form built on remembrance of a personal quest can be an uneasy fit with a growing hot-button issue where the masses are clamoring for statistics, evidence, and specificity in order to usher change. It’s a challenge to frame The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs as not ‘factual evidence’ of the problem, but as a critical catalyst for the audience to look for more evidence themselves.

A transcript of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is available online, royalty-free, and has been downloaded over 100,000 times. Since late February there have been over 25 productions around the world with different actors and with different sets and stagings, adding another chapter to the life of this work. Last March, Mike  traveled to DC to appear on our stage to personally speak with Woolly’s audience about the role of truth and illusion in his work and take questions and comments. In addition to the ongoing examination of labor practices that it helped to spark, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has continued to fuel a rigorous debate about the rules of engagement that govern documentary theatre. The irony can hardly be missed:  Mike Daisey has very publicly acknowledged his own specific failure in framing the last iteration of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.Yet it’s hard to think of another work of theatre in the past decade that has been so successful in focusing attention on a critical world issue.  This raises the challenging question:  what role does truth, and what role does illusion, play in that success?

~ Ronee Penoi, Production Dramaturg and Producer-in-Residence

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This Month in Apple

Anything to do with Apple Inc. is breaking news these days. A lot has happened in the world of Apple since The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs premiered at Woolly in March/April 2011 and a lot of us don’t have time to keep on top of the 24 hour news.  This is in no way a comprehensive list, but here are some highlights of the changing Apple landscape.


 In August, Siri will celebrate her one year consumer birthday. Siri, Apple’s crack at artificial intelligence, created an industry wide focus on voice technology, and a party trick for boring people with iPhones (next time you’re with someone who has her- tell Siri you need to hide a body). She’s also created a humorous internet meme, and on more than one occasion has given you directions to the mall when you’ve asked her to call your mom.


Apple tried to remove itself from the EPEAT system – a registry of environmentally friendly products. Apple requested that all 39 of its certified MacBooks and desktops be removed from the registry. San Francisco city officials moved to block the purchase of Apple products for all municipal agencies. Shortly after, Apple back-peddled, calling the decision to leave the registry “a mistake”.

If this experience teaches us anything, it’s that having a strong set of moral values are essential to ensuring you don’t loose money. Lesson learned.


The latest Apple Keynote on June 11th drew “ooos” and “ahhs” from Apple fans. Releases included a new operating system iOS 6 with better Facebook integration, a makeover for Siri, something that looked suspiciously like Google Maps, as well as the unveiling of the new MacBook Air & Pro.


A judge finally made a ruling about the dispute between Samsung and Apple. Apple has been in a longstanding legal battle with Samsung saying that it violated many of Apple’s design patents.  To over-simplify the judge’s ruling: “Apple products were too cool to have been ripped off by Samsung. Ewww.”

In the afterlife, Steve Jobs was seen making the following face:

With its market share growing and the iPhone 5 on the horizon, who could need more proof that we’re still culturally obsessed with Apple and their products? This makes The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs more topical and powerful than it’s ever been. See you at the show!

~ Jordan Beck, Connectivity Assistant

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It’s Apple Pickin’ Season

As I’m sure you faithful Woolly Blog followers are aware, the remount of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is already underway. Tonight marks the opening of its three week run in our space. We are all excited to see how bringing this piece full circle will affect us, Woolly audiences, and Mike himself.

All that said; I’m happy to report that we have brought back the Apple Orchard for the run of the show… with one exciting addition! Check out what we have dusted off and are displaying in our lobby right now.

Apple IIe:

Released in January 1983 and originally sold for $1395, the Apple ][e was to be one of the most successful Apple computers ever (it was manufactured and sold for nearly 11 years with few changes). One of its defining characteristics was its ability to input and display lowercase letters for the first time. In 1984 the name was changed from Apple ][e to Apple //e, coinciding with the release of the Apple //c.

Apple ImageWriter II:

Released in September 1985 for $595, the Apple ImageWriter II was the first printer built exclusively for the Macintosh series. Because of the relatively small price and high printing speed, the ImageWriter series was extremely popular amongst consumer computer users. In 1990 the ImageWriter series was replaced by the ink-jet StyleWriter series.

Newton Message Pad:

Released in August 1993 for $800, the Newton Message Pad was Apple’s first completely new product in many years. It represented Apple’s entry into (and perhaps creation of) an entirely new market: Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The PDA market was barely present when the Newton was released, but other companies were working on similar devices.

The Newton Message Pad featured a variety of personal-organization applications, such as an address book, a calendar, and notes, along with communications capabilities such as faxing and email. It featured a trainable handwriting recognition engine, but unfortunately this engine was notoriously difficult to use. While later Newton models would show improved handwriting recognition, the Newton’s reputation for poor recognition would haunt it for years to come.

Apple Quicktake 200:

Released in February 1997 for $600, the Apple QuickTake was one of the first consumer digital cameras. The QuickTake 100 and 200 models were only compatible with Macintosh computers, while the 150 model was also compatible with Microsoft Windows. However, none of these models sold well because other companies such as Kodak, Canon and Nikon entered the market with brands that consumers associated with photography.

iMac (Rev. C):

Released in August 1998 for $1300, the iMac was Apple’s computer for the new millennium. Aimed at the low-end consumer market and designed with the internet in mind, the iMac was positioned by Apple as the most original new computer since the original Mac in 1984, and came in a stylish new case design, with translucent “Bondi Blue” plastics. It also included a newly-designed USB keyboard and mouse. By January 1999, the Rev. C iMac came in five bright new colors: Blueberry, Strawberry, Lime, Tangerine and Grape.

iBook G4:

Released in October 2003 for $1099, the iBook was much smaller than its predecessor, the PowerBook G4 and included a faster G3 processor, more RAM, VGA out, stereo speakers, and a higher resolution screen. It also was the first Mac to include a “combo” DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive in the high-end model.

iPod mini 4GB (Second Generation):

Released in February 2005 for $199, the iPod mini was built around a one inch 4 GB hard drive, and raised the bar for portability in a hard disk music player. It was small enough to wear comfortably on an arm band, but large enough to hold nearly 1,000 songs. Apple believed that its small size and consumer appeal would make up for its high price. As Apple hoped, iPod mini’s sold extremely well—the demand vastly outstripped the supply long into the summer months.

The iPod mini was available in five metallic colors: silver, gold, pink, blue and green. In order to fit everything in such a small package, Apple had to change the layout of the buttons from the existing iPod design. The result, which Apple called a “ClickWheel” allowed users to use the wheel as a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, or push on the four corners to click the buttons.


Released in May 2006 (original) for $1099, the MacBook replaced the existing 12- and 14-inch iBooks and 12-inch PowerBook model, completing the transition of Apple’s portable computers to Intel Processors. At the time it was considered one of Apple’s best computers, and around 2008 became Apple’s best selling Macintosh in history. The original MacBooks were available in black or white, and was the second (after the MacBook Pro) Mac to adopt Apple’s “MagSafe” power connector. The MacBook was Apple’s first notebook to use features now standard in its notebooks, such as the glossy display, the sunken keyboard design, and the non-mechanical magnetic latch.

iPhone 3GS:

Released in June 2009 for $199, the iPhone 3GS included both specification and feature enhancements over it’s predecessor, the wildly successful iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS included a higher-resolution video-capable camera, an integrated Magnetometer, and Voice Control. It shipped with iPhone OS 3.0 (which was also made available for previous iPhone and iPod Touch models), which included software enhancements, such as cut & paste, pervasive landscape keyboard, search, internet tethering, and a voice memos application. In June 2010, both models were replaced by the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for another post coming soon about our special artifact, coming to our space on August 4th. Hint? This famed Apple product was in the news recently.

~ Melanie Harker, Connectivity Associate

{& a special shout-out to Brooke Miller, our former Press & Digital Content Manager who helped compile this original blog post!}

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