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Jade Esteban Estrada in ‘The Ecstasy and the Agony of Steve Jobs’

June 7, 2013

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Jade Esteban Estrada knows how to fill the stage all by himself, but a few eyebrows were raised when it was announced earlier this year that he would take on renowned raconteur Mike Daisey’s solo show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

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Estrada is a comedian, singer, and gay entertainment icon. Daisey’s monologue — written for himself — tells the story of a technology early adopter whose faith in Apple and its charismatic founder is challenged when he discovers the wretched conditions Chinese workers endure to make our cherished i-devices.

What does playing for laughs have to do with social justice issues?

A lot, it seems. Esteban’s comedic timing puts the spotlight on the fan boy’s increasing double vision as he attempts to hold on to his devotion to the world of Mac. Steve Jobs is depicted as a baffling genius — a messianic, but despotic, leader who offered the world freedom from corporate regimentation, only to enslave trend-obsessed consumers to an endless series of sleek gadgets, and lock his own workers in a closed world of proprietary secrets.

The story telling is set in two scenes — the narrator’s childhood room where he looks back at youthful attempts at programming and tinkering with computer hardware, and a hotel room in Hong Kong, where he has traveled to see find contacts to get him into the Foxconn factory in Shenzen on the mainland, where overcrowding and horrendous conditions accompany the hand assembly of the iPod. An earlier version of the play, excerpted on Ira Glass’s show This American Life on NPR, was criticized for factual inaccuracies that Daisy at first tried to dismiss as allowable by artistic license. Daisey later rewrote the play, cutting the troubling sections, and added a story about a meeting with Steve Wozniak, the inventor and co-founder of Apple who still holds onto the dreams of transformation he and Jobs once shared. “It never was supposed to be this way,” he quotes Wozniak. No, it wasn’t.

Directed by Gregg Barrios, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs featuring Jade Esteban Estrada plays at Woodlawn Black Box through Sunday, June 9, and then will travel to Nightingale Theatre in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 28 and Harbor Playhouse, Corpus Christi, Texas, July 22.


The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, By Mike Daisey, Dir. Gregg Barrios, Feat. Jade Esteban Estrada, $25, Woodlawn Black Box,Woodlawn Theatre, 1920 Fredericksburg, (210) 267-8388, Through June 9.  Courtesy photos.

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  • Ethan Rail

    I saw this show last weekend. Amazing. The story is by turns funny and horrific and for me at least removes the hagiography that has surrounded Jobs and the cult of Apple. Estrada is excellent and the production uses the Apple devices and ads to comment on Daisey’s script. I’m taking my kids who are home from college to see this important work.

    Ethan Rail

  • Mitzi Ann Ruttan-Leatherland

    Jade Esteban Estrada is magnificent and captivating in his performance of this show. He is truly an incredible actor!


    One of the selfless spellbinding aspects of the trinity collage of the artistic craftsmanship seen on stage is the purely sensitive service to the WORD that Barrios, Estrada & Daisey albeit master and perfectly present in simplistic style and veneration for the space and story at hand; engrossing the mind with engaging entertainment and an awareness of a contemporary social moral fiasco.

  • Karen Ross Garrett

    I’ve noticed that the reviews I’ve read have had a tendency to dwell more in the story told with only brief, but entirely laudatory, commentary on the performance. I believe that this only confirms what I experienced–Jade’s performance is executed so seamlessly that the audience is drawn completely into the story, rather than being distracted by him as performer. This in and of itself speaks so highly of his mastery as an actor–so exceptionally well done!! I was already a fan of Jade, but this was above and beyond even my expectations!!!