The Mad Cat Theatre, known for its original plays, is showing the play, The Hamlet Dog and Pony Show now until August 12. Paul Tei, is the founder of Mad Cat Theatre, the playwright and director. Tei co-wrote the play with Jessica Farr, who while sharing her talent with him, exhibits an extraordinary perception of comedy. The pair reveal some of their inner thoughts and knack for comedy in this interview:
RS: Since when have you been attracted to the stage?
JF: Been awhile. Just kind of happened really, then it all clicked. I wanted to be a brain surgeon first, which given the territory, isn’t all that different from working in theatre.
PT: At the age of 18 I decided I wanted to be an actor. Prior to that, I only ever wanted to be in a band, which I was for a few years.
RS: The Pony Show is a deconstruction on Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet. Do you like Shakespeare?
JF: He's Shakespeare. I don't think I feel any way about him except he should be questioned. Not blindly revered. But that is not to say that I don't relish in his language. He was crafty. The play however is more linked to Heiner Muller's take on Hamlet (Hamlet machine) and the concept of deconstruction. That's where this all began.
PT: I love Hamlet....The Shakespeare plays I like, I like them very much however, I wouldn't consider myself a Shakespeare fan, at all.
RS: How do you come upon these ideas? Are they usually spontaneous or do they develop within a time period?
JF: Usually a spontaneous thought takes a couple months to develop. That is to say I've written a play in one harried, miserable night before. It depends on when the story strikes you and the context behind the content, certainly.
PT: Both. Sometimes I'll have an idea that will germinate very quickly like this show. Sometimes it takes years. I think this one happened rather quickly because Jessie and I had a deadline, and because we were collaborating.
RS: Do you enjoy what you do?
JF: You have to. And I do, with great stress and vigor. Some might say on the outside it doesn't look like fun but, I'm having a grand old time in my struggle.
P: Yes, very much. I would never do a show with Mad Cat that I didn't believe in 100% while I'm doing it.
RS: You are known to be very funny. In my opinion, humor is the most difficult to write. Do you see humor in everything?
JF: I suppose this was directed at Paul. Nothing is funnier than unhappiness. Beckett said that. I think Shakespeare might've felt that to a degree as well. Heiner, I mean, was German, he must understand rising above defeat.
PT: I try to see the humor in everything; usually I get there at some point. There are times when I am very depressed and I become consumed with images of death. A great sense of Nihilism will overcome for a spell, and then I move through it. I enjoy laughing a great deal and I put a lot of stock in comedy, humor, and funny people. Jessica is quite good at getting me to laugh.
RS: Is it easier writing with another writer?
JF: Never. But somehow this worked! We get along swimmingly as it is, so writing was just another aspect of that. You just have to learn to stay objective and not take any criticism too personally.
PT: Um...not always no. You have different opinions, points of view and ultimately there will be some compromise. It does however allow you and the person you are working with, in this case Jessie, to come to a stronger idea when you can analyze an idea together.
RS: Is there any prop you consider indispensable?
JF: No. I'd use just bodies, shadows and shape, if I could.
PT: I have no idea what you mean. So I will take a gander and say in my personal life it would be my lap top, and on stage I think one should always have something in their pockets.
RS: What are your projects within the next few years?
JF: That's a big question. I'm re-working a Catwoman piece from two years ago, currently. The future seems to be the Isabella Blow story so we'll see where that goes.
PT: Jessie and I are going to do a play on Isabella Blow. I want to do a psycho-sexual deconstruction of The Odd Couple. I also would love to do a musical adaptation of H.R. PuffnStuff.
RS: Could you share your website for our readers.
Tickets may be purchased from the website or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111
This production was made possible by the Miami Light Project, WLRN, the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affair Council of the Miami-Dade County Mayor, and the Board of the Miami-Dade County Commissioners.