“A Harmful Bit of Fun” – Interview with Richard Harte on One Little Goat’s Ubu Mayor
Interview by Madryn McCabe
MMC: Could you tell me a little bit about the show?
Richard Harte: UBU Mayor is a collision between Alfred Jarry’s outrageous 1896 masterpiece, Ubu Roi, and the dizzying world of Toronto’s mayoral politics. So instead of the king from Jarry’s play, we have a mayor (Ubu) whose wife (Huhu) is having an affair with his older brother (Dudu). Ubu wants Huhu to love him again; Ubu wants what’s best for the city; but both his love and political ideals are foiled by brother Dudu’s machinations.
MMC: What inspired the merging of the Ubu Roi story and the Ford brothers?
RH: I think Jarry’s original play, which scandalized audiences in 1896, is a natural fit with the antics of the Ford brothers, which have of course scandalized Toronto and beyond. The One Little Goat twitter account has been putting up quotations from the original Ubu Roi and the Ford brothers, and it’s hilarious (or alarming) how similar their language resembles each other.
MMC: What makes this a “play with music” instead of a “musical”?
RH: I think I have this right – Adam Seelig, playwright and director of One Little Goat, intended on writing strictly a play, but soon found himself at his piano writing a song about bacon. So there was an organic transformation from a play, to a play with songs in it. I don’t think he intended to write a musical at all! That being said, i think the musical elements have come together extremely well, both serving the story of UBU Mayor, and also because we have an ace band, led by Tyler Emond on bass, Jeff Halischuk on drums, and our director Adam on piano.
MMC: What were the challenges in putting this show together?
RH: From my perspective, the challenges lay in discovering how a brand new play works, hearing it for the first time, trying out new songs, having the voices of three different performers blend together, and remembering how to bring a story to life. Believe me, all of these challenges are challenging, but they’re also extremely fun. Not a day went by in the rehearsal hall that wasn’t filled with laughter. My comrades in this play are Michael Dufays, who plays the mayor’s brother, and Astrid Van Wieren, the mayor’s wife, and they are simply wonderful company, inventive, playful, and generous. I gush, I know.
MMC: I hear there’s bacon in the show, actually cooked onstage. Can you tell me more about it, or will that give away a major surprise?
RH: Initially the plan was to cook bacon during the course of the play. We discovered it wasn’t feasible, so it is instead accomplished with a little theatre magic (or rather, with the magic of pre-made bacon).
MMC: Is there anything else you’d like your audience to know?
RH: I think they’ll have a great time! 9 shows only! Call 416 915 0201 – no service fees!
MMC: Sum up the show in five words or less!
RH: I’m going to cheat here – the playwright has given me this one right in the title: A harmful bit of fun.
**One Little Goat is running a promo called “Gravy Train” Sundays!**
“Gravy Train” Sundays: $15.00 tickets to UBU MAYOR on Sun Sept 14 & 21.
Book tickets by phone (416) 915-0201 (no service fees), online, or in person (also no service fees).
Connect with One Little Goat: @1LGoat
Connect with ITGR writer Madryn McCabe: @FuriousMAD