2016: Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare's legacy!



Romeo. Hamlet. Macbeth. Lear. Over four consecutive nights at the Bruns, renowned storyteller Mike Daisey wrestles with these tragic heroes and unravels what Shakespeare means to theater today—in a special show created just for Cal Shakes.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, Daisey will delve into how the cultural religion of Shakespeare changes and shapes our theaters. Each evening is unique and can be viewed independently, for a total of four World Premieres; but all four together form an epic oral accounting of triumph and folly told with Daisey's dark and hilarious intensity.

Single tickets are now on sale—or get a Great Tragedies Flex Pass and see the whole four-part epic on your evenings of choice.

To purchase a Great Tragedies Flex Pass online, go to our ticketing page and click “FLEXPASS/GIFT CERTIFICATES” at the top of the page. After purchasing, please call the Box Office (510.548.9666) to select show dates.

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Mike Daisey has been called “the master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by The New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues which weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories that cut to the bone, exposing secret histories and unexpected connections. His controversial work, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, was recognized as one of the year’s best theater pieces by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, San Jose Mercury News, and The San Francisco Bay Guardian.

As a playwright, his transcript of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was downloaded over 100,000 times in the first week it was made available. Under a revolutionary open license it has seen more than fifty productions around the world and been translated into six languages. The first Chinese production opened last year in Beijing, and will tour to Hong Kong and Shenzhen this year.

Since his first monologue in 1997, Daisey has created over twenty monologues, including the critically-acclaimed The Last Cargo Cult, the controversial How Theater Failed America, the twenty-four-hour feat All the Hours in the Day, the unrepeatable series All Stories Are Fiction, the four-part epic Great Men of Genius, and the international sensation 21 Dog Years. Other titles include If You See Something Say Something, Barring the Unforeseen, Invincible Summer, Monopoly!, Tongues Will Wag, I Miss the Cold War, and Teching in India.

He has performed in venues on five continents, ranging from Off-Broadway at the Public Theater to remote islands in the South Pacific, from the Sydney Opera House to an abandoned theater in post-Communist Tajikistan. He’s been a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, the Late Show with David Letterman, a longtime host and storyteller for The Moth, as well as a commentator and contributor to The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The Daily Beast, WIRED, Vanity Fair, Slate, Salon, NPR and the BBC. In a brief, meteoric career with This American Life, his two shows are the most listened to and downloaded episodes of that program’s eighteen year history. He is currently at work on his second book, an anthology of his monologues, and he stars in the Lawrence Krauser feature Horrible Child. He has been nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award, two Drama League Awards, and is the recipient of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award, five Seattle Times Footlight Awards, the Sloan Foundation’s Galileo Prize, and a MacDowell Fellowship.

Jean-Michele Gregory works as a director, editor, and dramaturg, focusing on extemporaneous theatrical works that live in the moment they are told. Working primarily with solo artists, for sixteen years she has been Mike Daisey’s chief co-conspirator, staging his monologues at venues across the globe including the Public Theater, the Sydney Opera House, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, the Spoleto Festival, T:BA Festival, Under the Radar Festival, and many more. Notable works with Daisey include The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, How Theater Failed America, Great Men of Genius, The Last Cargo Cult, American Utopias, and most recently, All the Faces of the Moon, a 29-part epic story told over one lunar cycle in collaboration with painter Larissa Tokmakova as part of the Public Theater’s 2013 season.

Other notable collaborators include New York storyteller Martin Dockery, whose shows she’s directed in New York and San Francisco (Wanderlust, The Surprise), and author and performer Suzanne Morrison with productions in London, New York, Seattle, Atlanta, and Maui (Yoga Bitch, Optimism).

Her productions have received the Bay Area Critics Circle Award (Great Men of Genius), nominations from the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle (If You See Something Say Something), and six Seattle Times Footlight Awards (21 Dog Years, The Ugly American, Monopoly!, The Last Cargo Cult, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and Fucking Fucking Fucking Ayn Rand).

She has taught the art of first person narrative at Colby College and told her own stories onstage with The Moth, The Liar Show, and Speakeasy. Her writing has appeared in Brevity and in profiles for The New York Sun and Barnard magazine. She is currently at work on a memoir about her family’s exodus from Poland and what it means to forgive.

Mike Daisey is exclusively represented by Opus 3 Artists.


Mike Daisey Cal Shakes

Mike Daisey Cal Shakes

Mike Daisey Cal Shakes

Mike Daisey Cal Shakes

Original photos of Mike Daisey by Ursa Waz.


Mike Daisey in Conversation with Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone.


California Shakespeare Theater presents the world premiere of The Great Tragedies: Mike Daisey Takes on Shakespeare for eight performances only, October 2-12.

The Great Tragedies Program Cal Shakes “This is Daisey returning to the roots of Western theater and to his own as a once-aspiring Shakespearean actor… the master storyteller asserts his ownership of the space.”
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle.

“Leave it to California Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone to get America’s current master storyteller to grapple with the Bard. In a tragic vein, no less”
—“Cal Shakes gets Mike Daisey to Take on Shakespeare”, San Francisco Chronicle.

Daisey has always been one to delight in pushing hot buttons… [his] drive to produce provocative theater has not diminished. And his admirers wouldn't want it any other way.”
Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News

“[Daisey] is a wonderful talker; a wonderful shaper of thoughts…He made the theater come alive.”
Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle.

Daisey strikes such a near-perfect balance between marvelous humor, unflinching self-examination and broad philosophical statements that he makes it easy to get behind.”
Sam Hurwitt, KQED

“[Daisey] has a probing mind, a deep knowledge of theater and a talent for spinning tales that go in unexpected directions.”
Laura Collins-Hughes, New York Times .



While The Great Tragedies do not contain any staged violence or nudity, Mr. Daisey’s monologues often touch on adult themes and may incorporate harsh language. Every parent and every child is different; we encourage parents to explore previous Daisey shows to understand whether The Great Tragedies is appropriate for their child.


While The Great Tragedies do not contain any staged violence or nudity, Mr. Daisey’s monologues often touch on adult themes and may incorporate harsh language. Every parent and every child is different; we encourage parents to explore previous Daisey shows to understand whether The Great Tragedies is appropriate for their child.