performing 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com, Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, opens Fri 8 pm, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Thurs 12 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Feb 6, $15-55
When he debuted his one-man show 21 Dog Years in the back room of an Internet Café in downtown Seattle, Mike Daisey had no idea the heights it would take him. Now--a six-month Off-Broadway run, a popular memoir, a show in development for HBO, two appearances on Letterman, and four years later--he does. Turns out people dig that office comedy, and Daisey's account of his two years spent in cubicle drudgery at Amazon.com is as pointed and hilarious as office comedy gets.
Why does 21 Dog Years appeal to people so much?
The show is about what people choose to do with their lives. I'm always intrigued that there is so little art about that decision process, especially theater. I complain constantly about how little theater there is that has anything to with anything important to anyone.
How can theater become more "important"?
Theater can bear witness. I work hard with Jean-Michele (Daisey's director and wife) to tell a story to the audience. I'm trained in theater and my shows are sculpted and shaped, but at the same time, there's no setting. We're here. We all came here: "You guys work at offices, many of you. I've worked at an office. Why don't we talk about this important thing that all of us do?"
I think modern audiences connect very strongly with a great solo performance.
It's interesting because there's a strong bias against solo performance in the American theater system. One theater told us, "Listen, we're going to lower your ticket prices," and we were like, "Why?" And they were like, "Well, it's value for money. Our subscribers will be upset that there's only one actor." Do they think their audiences are stupid? That they'll watch a show and say, "That was a very satisfying show because there were so many actors in it! I really feel like I got a full night's entertainment with that one!"