Mike Daisey

The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

November 5 - 22
Waldron Firebay

H-T Preview

 

Actors tackle 1-man plays for Cardinal Stage

By Marcela Creps 
November 1, 2015

“Germinario, Knell Intrigued by Complex Topics, Characters”

Cardinal Stage Company will be presenting two plays in the coming weeks taking on interesting topics of excess and the true price of technology.

For actors Remy Germinario and David Knell, these one-man plays exciting opportunities to give life to some interesting characters.

Germinario has only been in Bloomington for about one week, and he is still discovering the “heart and humor and pizzazz” of “Buyer and Cellar.” Opening Nov. 12, the play is the story of an out-of-work actor who gets a job working for Barbra Streisand. The play is inspired by a coffee table book written by Streisand that shows her basement mall.

Germinario had seen the original off-Broadway production of the show in New York City, starring Michael Urie of “Ugly Betty” fame.
“I remember when I saw the show thinking, ‘Oh, I want to do this,’” Germinario said.

Knell stars in “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”

“This is like an amazingly good choice for me,” Knell said.
While Knell wasn’t familiar with the play, he has a background in Apple. During his career, he’s had two jobs connected to the technology giant — working for a vendor and working in an Apple store.

“The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” opens Thursday. The play, by Mike Daisey, looks into Apple’s products and the Chinese factories that produce them. Knell is the narrator of the show.
Knell was excited about the production and the decision recently made to stage the original version of the play.

“I think that the first piece does it better than the second version does,” Knell said.

The original version went through a bit of controversy after Daisey appeared on the radio program, “This American Life.” Three months later, the radio program retracted the original piece because of disputes about Daisey’s stories of visiting the Chinese factories.

Knell said a couple of scenes from the original play were challenged because they weren’t accurate. Knell said Daisey interviewed different people, so some of the stories are amalgamations of those various interviews.

“In journalism, you can’t do that. But when it’s storytelling, we do that all the time in storytelling,” he said.

The play’s power comes from getting audience members to think about their electronic devices and where they’re manufactured and who toils in a factory to make them. Knell said the play tells three stories. It focuses on a trip to China to interview people in the factories. It tells the history of Apple and it gives the narrator’s own history with technology.

Adding the human factor to the story is what can challenge audience members. Knell said most of us just want our cool phones and don’t want to think about where they are manufactured and what conditions those workers are under.

“I’ll just imagine it’s oompa loompas and robots,” he said of people’s mindsets when it comes to such topics.

Germinario’s role in “Buyer and Cellar” is a little more challenging.
Not only does he play Alex, but he must also take on other roles including Streisand, her husband James Brolin, the housekeeper and his own boyfriend.

The role of Alex is relatively easy for Germinario since both are actors.

“As an actor, I can totally relate to the struggles he’s going through,” he said. “You can feel useless and depressed about it.”
By basing that role on himself, Germinario said it gives him room to get into the other characters. He’s clear that he’s not trying to do an impression of Streisand. He’s studied her through movies, videos and more.

“She gives you so much to play with and kind of makes her realization a lot better. It’s a joy. I think fans of Barbra Streisand, while they’re not going to get the perfect drag queen impression, they’re going to totally relate to Barbra’s eccentricities,” he said.

While Knell has some experience working for Apple, he admits he’s not one of those technology fanatics who need the latest and greatest versions. He was working at the Apple store when the first iPhones were released. On that day, Steve Wozniak, cof-ounder of Apple, sent an email to most employees letting them know they would be getting a free iPhone.

“I used it for year. I only recently got an iPhone 5,” Knell said.

Once while Knell was doing a side job in video production, he had a chance to meet Wozniak and got the Apple giant to sign the phone. Knell used an adhesive protective shield to preserve the signature, but when it started to fray, he removed the shield — and the signature.

But Knell said his wife reached out to Wozniak, told him what happened and asked him to sign it again, which he did.

“So he’s signed my phone twice. This time, Julie (his wife), put nail polish or something over it so it wouldn’t just wipe off this time,” he said.

Doing a one-man show has its challenges for both actors.

Germinario plays more than one role.

“It is certainly a very fun challenge,” he said. “Not only learning so many lines but also making them engaging and also developing characters, switching back and forth and having literal conversations with myself. It’s a lot to handle.”

For Knell, it’s a lot of lines to learn.

“I had to memorize 70 pages of words, and I’ve never done that before. I’m not as young as I used to be, and I’ve got seven days before we open,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

So if you see Knell walking around and muttering to himself, he’s most likely just running his lines.

Germinario, who lives in New York City, said he enjoys being in Bloomington and having an opportunity to work on such an interesting play. He considers it a “paid vacation” and is learning more about the various things Bloomington has to offer.

“Oh, my God, I am obsessed with it,” he said of Bloomington. “It’s small, but it’s also vibrant and lively and hip and full of so much culture.”

If you go
WHO: Cardinal Stage Company
WHAT: “The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” by Mike Daisey; “Buyer and Cellar” by Jonathan Tolins.
WHERE: Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay, 122 S. Walnut St., Bloomington.
WHEN: “Agony”: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and Nov. 19; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Nov. 8; 5 p.m., Nov. 14, 21; 4 p.m., Nov. 15, 22.
WHEN: “Buyer”: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 12-13, 15, 18, 20, 22; 1 p.m., Nov. 14-15, 21-22; 8:30 p.m., Nov. 14, 21.
TICKETS: $11.95-$26.95 for each show. Available online at cardinalstage.org or in person at 900 S. Walnut St., 812-336-9300.