Mike Daisey Is Back... Briefly
at ACT Theatre
Thurs-Sat, Oct 28-30.
Lucky us: Blowing into town for his sister's wedding, Mike Daisey had the good sense to alert ACT Theater, whose artistic director quickly invited the storyteller and former Seattleite to perform a three-night run of his show series All Stories Are Fiction. Developed during a weekly residence last spring at New York City's venerable PS 122, ASAF is Daisey's ongoing experiment in real-time storytelling. Rejecting the years-long process of "having an experience, digesting an experience, then recounting an experience" that led to his longer autobiographical shows (such as the acclaimed 21 Dog Years), Daisey uses All Stories Are Fiction to explore something close to the present.
"The shows usually draw upon the 96 hours before the performance," Daisey tells me. And while no two shows in the series are the same, the process behind each one-night-only story is identical. First comes the title: "I try to choose something evocative, something to intrigue potential audiences and set some boundaries, but general enough to work for whatever shows up." (The titles for the ACT run--the 14th, 15th, and 16th shows in the series--are "Weddings & Other Common Disasters," "The Black-Hearted People of Brooklyn," and "The Dead Are Just Like Us.")
From there it's countdown to curtain: "Rehearsal is drinking coffee and thinking about the show," says Daisey. "Forty-five minutes before I go on, I write a one-page outline. The tech is simple--no set, no light cues, just pre-show and post-show music. There's little illusion. The audience knows it's totally fresh. The shows always end up being one hour, and I throw them out afterwards. No repeats. It's my favorite thing I've ever done."