TATESJ: All the Steves

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (TATESJ) features a lot of Steves, as Jason Compton explains when he should be rehearsing…

Of course I play Steve Jobs. And Steve Wozniak. And a power-mad Apple employee who is probably named Steve. And a couple of Apple board members who if you like can be named Steve. I play all the Steves.

You see, in my rush to clarify things and manage expectations, I have accidentally buried the lead on The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. When people say, “Oh, so you’re playing Steve Jobs?” I have foolishly been over-explaining that I mostly play the character of Mike, who is a lot like but not exactly the same as Mike Daisey, who wrote the piece, etc. etc.

That is the wrong answer. I should have seen that sooner. The right answer is “Hell yes, I play Steve Jobs!” I went back and counted and there are actually 30 distinct characters who have at least one spoken line in TATESJ. And playing Steve Jobs is fun, but he’s not even my favorite to play. It’s not Cathy the tiny Chinese translator, either, although I think she’s director Jake Penner’s favorite.

No, my favorite is John Sculley. He only has a few lines, but as written in the monologue, Sculley is the opposite of Steve Jobs in every significant and substantial way. And so when I get to play them off one another, and when I get to play CEO Sculley walking the halls of the Jobsless Apple, I get to take everything down. Way, way down. It’s a fun moment of infectious calm in what is otherwise a very fast-paced 90 minute show.

As soon as I read Sculley, I knew how I had to play him. And although the cult of Jobs makes it easy to disdain guys like Sculley, he and others like him have always had an important role to play in companies that need to grow and mature beyond a single ego. It’s fun to play characters, however briefly, who are misunderstood and under-appreciated.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, produced by Left of Left Center and directed by Jake Penner, opens August 31 at the Bartell Theatre.