A monologue to make Apple mend its manufacturing ways

Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:51am EDT
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By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - A master storyteller and self-confessed Apple fan hardly makes for a compelling advocate for social change.

But Mike Daisey, whose new monologue focuses on what he calls the dark side of Apple's iconic gadgets, hopes he can pressure Chief Executive Steve Jobs to push for better labor conditions at factories in China, where most Apple gadgets are assembled.

The two-hour monologue entitled "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" is part paean and part critique of Apple Inc, and Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor and founder of the iconic company that wields enormous clout in the tech world.

Dressed in black -- in a nod to Jobs' trademark black turtleneck and jeans -- the stocky Daisey sat in the spotlight at a desk on an otherwise bare stage in Mumbai this week, gesticulating through his expletive-ridden monologue, barely pausing to sip water from a glass or wipe sweat off his face.

Daisey, acclaimed for his monologues including 'Great Men of Genius' and '21 Dog Years', posed as an American businessman to check out Foxconn Technology in Shenzhen that came under international scrutiny after a spate of worker suicides.

Critics have blamed the suicides on stressful working conditions at the factory that employs nearly 800,000 workers.

Daisey's monologue, which is part-autobiography and part-journalism, is both hilarious and heartbreaking, as he admits his own obsession with Apple gadgets such as the wildly successful iPad and the iPhone, while also criticizing a work environment he says has been forced by globalization.

"We, as Apple fans and the West are complicit in this tough work environment. We are every bit as responsible, let's not kid ourselves," he said.   Continued...

<p>A worker walks out of a factory building with the nets, installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, at a Foxconn factory, in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>