by Jen Graves
on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 6:37 PM
Mike Daisey: about to go on.
(This is a sometime feature in which we'll talk to artists in the final hours before they go onstage, to see what's on their minds, what their rituals are, what kind of shape they're in. This time, our subject is Mike Daisey, whose full-length monologue The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs—a two-hour marathon, without intermission—opens tonight at Seattle Rep.)
Sent at 6:14 pm via email:
I am in my dressing room at the Rep. I have just taken a very long walk around Seattle Center in the rain—I'm cold and wet, but I'm not noticing it in the tumult of this evening. I've been revising my notes, locking down a number of major changes I made over the last two previews, walking through my flight plan for the evening, checking my notes again. As soon as I finish this email I will make my final preparations and then go sit on the stage in the dark for a time, which I like to do when I can before important nights, because it helps me orient to the room's tone and timbre.
I have many rituals, hundreds of them. I have found the only way to leash them and make them useful is to obey them and then break them religiously, overturning old rituals for new ones with every run, or even more often when possible. This helps them be the focusing tool they are intended to be, and keep them from becoming a neurotic leash. But one of the things that makes a ritual work is that I don't tell anyone what it is, so you'll have to use your imagination—though don't imagine too much, because like most acts of peering inside a creative form, it is singularly uninteresting to the outside world, even though I become deeply invested in them.
I also become very obsessed with time. I will be onstage in 82 minutes.