What causes are worth our energy (and how does truth fit into this question)?

After watching Bucknell’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I contemplate the purpose of theatre. Does theatre exist to bring us closer to ultimate truths? For one reason or another, watching this play, rather than listening to Mike Daisy perform it, changed its meaning. It seems as if, when someone else performs the play (other than Mike Daisy), I question the validity of it because it is not first hand, and therefore I am less upset when the validity of the stories is questioned. Though Mike Daisy, when he speaks of experiences he had, seems to silence questions listeners would have otherwise.

Viewing this theatrical performance caused me to questions the role of truth in plays and performances. All performances serve to elicit meaning from the audience. Often the theatrical element can cause the audience to feel emotional about a topic, and therefore theatre often functions as a “call to action.” How genuine is this “truth” that we experience through our emotional response to theatre?

Another question this play brought up was the attention we give to certain causes. There are so many problems in the world, so how do we decide which to give our attention to? Media publicity leads us to certain problems. Which issues go unnoticed? Sometimes it seems as if there are so many problems in the world; I question where my energy should be placed.


7 comments on “What causes are worth our energy (and how does truth fit into this question)?

  1. I think you raised a lot of interesting points. I agree that the play was not as powerful as the Daisey speech and changed the way I felt about the story. I think the Daisey piece really made people think and look into the situation in China, but this piece made me question if it was true or even worth googling.

    I also completely agree that the media has a lot of control over what causes receive attention. I think it’s important for people to realize that not everything we hear on the news is the biggest or most important thing going on in the world. Producers have a lot of power in deciding what information the public is exposed to and how long a story runs.

    • So, we need a theory of the media too. I mean, those producers will say they are giving customers “what they want”? Is that sufficient to you?

      It would suggest that the audience needs to stop being interested in trivial or shallow issues (Miley Cyrus?) so that the producers and other gatekeepers of content make what the audience (the market) wants.

      • Unfortunately, it seems like this trend of caring about trivial and shallow issues only seems to be getting worse in our society and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

  2. What we need is a theory of social problems. In other words, how do certain problems become elevated and legitimated as “worthwhile.”

    Kids and cuties seems one rule of thumb. I always feel badly for people here in this area who work on Prisoner’s rights, like the Prison Project. That has got to be a hard sell to donors and volunteers.

    I think one reason this issue emerged when it did, and one of the reasons Daisey’s play is believable, is because it echos with our common conceptions of our industrial history and the ills we learn about it.

  3. I especially liked your question about what purpose does theatre play in truth. I believe that theatre gives us the ability to tell stories that teach us lessons…that make us think…or make us question. The fact that Mike Daisey’s play is being recreated and recited by other actors proves that he achieved his goal to make people think about our corporations these days. These actors wouldn’t spend all the time and energy that it takes to put on a sound production if they didn’t wish to make their audience learn, think, or question about China and freedom in the digital world. Even though some truths were stretched in the play, if you strip those away, the play still makes you question about the iPhone that sits in your pocket.

    I just don’t want people to get carried away with the details and overlook the basic message that Daisey is trying to communicate; that we should collectively question the freedoms we have on our personal devices that we paid good money for, as well as question the working conditions that produced the device. Furthermore, theatrical performances stretch truths all the time, such as a magical wizard in the land of OZ, or a mystical magic flute. What is important to understand is that Daisey’s play is being performed by others! So, obviously there are others who wish to ask the same questions as Daisey, proving that theatre is in fact still alive and well as a vehicle for making you learn, think, and question the world we live in.

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