Monopoly! Man

Mike Daisey threads games, rivalries and giant corporations into his monologue.

In a list of the great rivalries in the history of mankind, the enmity between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison would have to rate somewhere near the top. Tesla (a native of Croatia) began his life in the United States as Thomas Edison’s assistant until Tesla took seriously a statement of Edison’s that the latter brushed off as a joke. An embittered Tesla parted company with his employer. Later in life, Edison waged a “war of currents,” pitting his direct-current method of transmitting electricity against an alternating-current method that Tesla had conceptualized. During Edison and Tesla’s lifetime, a Quaker woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Maggie Phillips used a board game to explain Henry George’s single-tax theory. She called it “The Landlord’s Game”; we know it today as Monopoly. It’s the most successful board game in U.S. history.

A couple of generations after that, Sam Walton founded the superstore chain everyone loves to hate: Walmart. While Walton’s action of building his chain of stores up from nothing is as American as apple pie, the giant corporation’s habit of undercutting prices in order to drive small retailers out of business isn’t good for anyone in the community — except Walmart, of course.

And what do Walmart, Monopoly and the Tesla-Edison rivalry all have in common? They are each a key ingredient in acclaimed storyteller Mike Daisey’s Monopoly!,a monologue about, well, monopolies. Daisey will perform Monopoly! tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater in University Hall on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway; the show runs through Sunday, March 29. Visit www.theatreworkscs.org or call 1-719-255-3232.
March 25-28, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 29, 4 p.m., 2009

 
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