by Paul Bowers
Mike Daisey, a monologue actor and author who is scheduled to perform at the Spoleto Festival in June, falsified some of the information in his one-man stage show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a dramatic exposé of Apple Inc.'s factories in China. His show focuses in particular on the factories run by the manufacturing company Foxconn in the southeastern port city of Shenzhen, and it has inspired broad criticisms of Apple's production process.
A portion of Daisey's show, which he will perform May 31-June 5 at the Emmett Robinson Theatre, aired on the National Public Radio program This American Life in January. Host and producer Ira Glass wrote a press release today announcing that he was retracting the episode in which Daisey's material appeared because it "contained significant fabrications."
Among the lies and stretches of the truth:
* Daisey exaggerated the number of factories he visited and the number of workers he spoke with.
* Daisey claimed that a group of workers were poisoned by a chemical called n-hexane while working on an iPhone assembly line at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen. Apple's audits show that such an incident did occur, but it was 1,000 miles away in a city called Suzhou.
* Daisey lied to the producers of This American Life about the name of his Chinese interpreter and gave them a contact phone number that didn't work.
* Daisey's interpreter disputes Daisey's claim that underaged workers were employed at the Foxconn factory and that a man had his hand mangled while working at Foxconn building iPads.
"I'm not going to say that I didn't take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard," the press release quotes Daisey as saying. "My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it's not journalism. It's theater."
The organizers of Spoleto still plan to include Daisey's two shows, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and Teching in India, in this year's program. "We have all intentions of moving the show forward as it is," says Paula Edwards, director of marketing and public relations for Spoleto. "We are billing it as a piece of theater."
Daisey is returning as a crowd favorite. He previously appeared at Spoleto in 2006 to perform his piece Monopoly! and in 2005 to perform The Ugly American.