The only applause line during a 75-minute public forum with Mike Daisey on Tuesday evening at Woolly Mammoth came when the theater’s artistic director, Howard Shalwitz, said, “We shouldn’t be apologizing for the art that Mike Daisey is capable of.”
Even then, the clapping was scattered.
Otherwise, the civil crowd filling about two-thirds of the hall didn’t give much away. The contretemps, as attendees surely knew, has been flogged hard for 12 days in print, online, in news releases and in public appearances. And Daisey himself seemed the worse for wear — muted, and visibly troubled by the toughest questions.
Shalwitz and theater managing director Jeffrey Herrmann set a contrite tone with prepared statements about the furor and Woolly’s decision to stand by the scheduled return engagement of “Steve Jobs” to its birthplace theater this summer. The purpose of the forum “is to hear from you,” Shalwitz told the audience. Then Daisey appeared, greeted by polite applause. Sounding abashed, he apologized without notes for roughly a minute. “I’m sorry . . . I failed you,” he said. The apology, although not quite as uncomfortable as the cross-examinations that exposed Daisey on the March 16 radio episode of “This American Life,” was met with silence.