“Find Out What You’re Going To See Before You See It!”

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

At the American Reperatory Theatre in Cambridge (Massachusetts — one of the country’s top rep theaters), Mike Daisey’s one-man show/monologue, "Invincible Summer", is getting rave reviews:

Even more than most theater artists, Mike Daisey must always rely on the kindness of strangers — or, more precisely, on their intelligence, alertness, and sense of humor. He depends on his audience because he performs his monologue differently every night, weaving and cutting and pacing its interconnected stories according to how each audience responds.

The "invincible summer" referred to in the title is the summer of 2001, in the innocent days before 9/11.  It’s much more than a 9/11 story however, and it touches upon such diverse topics as "weddings, writer’s block, the history of the New York subway system, borscht …"

Last Thursday evening, Daisey was performing his show to a sell-out audience, when all of a sudden, 87 of them stood up en masse, and walked out.  One of the audience members approached Daisey’s desk, and poured water on his outline.

And cameras were there to record it:

Turns out, the 87 people were members of a Christian group, who were offended by a certain four-letter word Daisey used.

Naturally, this stops the show, but Daisey handles it well.  He implores them to engage in a dialogue, but they simply refuse. 

Best part: when Daisey shouts to them: "In the future, find out what you’re going to see before you see it!"

So true.

Planned?  Perhaps.  Then again, Daisey discusses the walkout on his blog, and notes that a couple members of the group apologized as they left, so maybe it wasn’t planned.

Playbill covers it as well.  And props to The News Blog, which offers this question:

However, I can’t help but wonder what the result would be if 80 performance artists all attended a Church service, and got up in the middle of Mass and destroyed the alter as a sort of performance art.

Excellent question.  No doubt, it would make the evening news, with Falwell and Robertson and others decrying "foul".