Associated Press | This American Life
After “This American Life” broadcast an hourlong retraction of his critique of working conditions at Chinese factories that make Apple products, Mike Daisey has cut questionable portions of his monologue, added a prologue explaining the controversy and added an explanation that his translator’s recollection of certain events differs from his.
“Mike is a great storyteller, not a journalist. I wish he had been clearer about that distinction in the making of this piece,” [Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater] said after seeing Saturday’s matinee performance. “If we had understood the rules Mike was using to make the show, we would have framed it differently from the outset. … It obviously matters a great deal to me that our audience understands what they are seeing.”
In “Retraction,” Daisey admits that some parts of his monologue were false, such as his account of interviewing workers who had been poisoned by a chemical, but he stands behind other portions in which his translator contradicted his account.
Daisey apparently changed his mind about the monologue after the “This American Life” episode, in which he defended the monologue as an act of theater:
Ira Glass: Are you going to change the way that you label this in the theater, so that the audience in the theater knows that this isn’t strictly speaking a work of truth but in fact what they’re seeing really is a work of fiction that has some true elements in it?
Mike Daisey: Well, I don’t know that I would say in a theatrical context that it isn’t true. I believe that when I perform it in a theatrical context in the theater that when people hear the story in those terms that we have different languages for what the truth means.
Ira Glass: I understand that you believe that but I think you’re kidding yourself in the way that normal people who go to see a person talk – people take it as a literal truth. …