This Week in Theater
Story Adapted from the Mike Daisey Monologues
Review by Rose Desena
Alex Lyras sits at a table on an almost barren stage. His voice is calm but driven by passion. He opens his one man show discussing his phone, his iPhone to be exact. He is not on a rant about the beauty, functionality or inadequacies of a device but rather the whole cult of Apple. Which certainly can be considered a cult: lines form for days to buy new products, constant discussions about the latest on blogs and when their leader and chief Steve Jobs died there were pictures and flowers placed in front of the stores by his loyal followers.
Alex goes into the careful details about the long and controversial reign of one of the most successful businessman in our history. Is Apple a new age company or is it? Its late CEO would walk around in bare feet going to board meetings in tee shirts and jeans. He was a vegan studied Buddhism and believed in alternative medicine. How much more new age can you get? However this is not a story about the life of Apple, Steve Jobs is merely a tool, a name with high recognition.
Do any of us know where phones, iPod’s , I pads, tablets, etc. come from? No not some pretty glass manufacturing building with soft blue walls and recreation rooms with showers and salad bars. There are no free massages or group picnics no stock options or big holiday bonus. No way that’s just for the developers and the big shots in Silicon Valley. So where! Let’s visualize a huge manufacturing complex that took over an entire village in rural China. There are so many work stations you can’t see the end of the line. You can’t walk from one end to the other.
Imagine sitting next to someone 10 hours a day a never saying a thing to them. Not because you don’t want to because you’re not allowed to. You get a meal break, a simple meal served in another place that does not look much different than the work areas. 95 percent of the employees who make iPhones can’t afford to have one nor would they have time to use them. They work long hours on huge assembly lines doing the same thing over and over again until if they’re lucky they might get enough time to themselves to commit suicide and be done with the whole thing. A while back when an iPhone prototype went missing, a young Chinese man working at Foxcom (China) was responsible for overseeing the department. He was beaten, incarcerated and untimely fired because his bosses felt it was his fault.
The treatment of the developing nations manufacturing practices are not new to us, we have heard the arguments for the past 25 years. However when you consider that Steve Jobs claims he had no idea that employees were being mistreated its sounds pretty ridiculous. Should we expect more from today’s companies particularly ones with so much wealth?
This well researched piece of writing will not only enlighten you but make you think. This is not just a play but an important social message. Alex is a joy to watch; his voice lures you into a trance. The use of screens heightens the experience and the subject is worth listening to whether you are an Apple user or not. Don’t think you can escape just because you use Microsoft or Motorola. Foxcom has the contracts for all the cell phone manufacturers.
Alex is not advocating discarding your phones, Ipads or other gadgets, we are all too fully engaged in the high tech world, but I do see the need to get involved and demand that the companies we build through support of consumerism should be more socially conscience. To think a company with the wealth of Apple does not insist on good conditions for the hands that really do all the work. It’s really sad. Apple holds such power I believe they could insist on anything they wanted from a manufacturer. So I ask you do you think Apple is a new age company or just another symbol of brutal capitalism in bare feet.
Regardless of what you believe this is definitely worth seeing. So put down your Ipad and step away from your apple and head over to Theater Asylum.
Adapted from the Monologues by Nike Daisey
Cast: Alex Lyras
Director: Robert McCaskill
6320, Santa Monica Blvd. LA CA 90038
Wednesdays only until April 10th