Plays for Two is a unique anthology of twenty-eight terrific plays for two actors, by a mix of celebrated playwrights and cutting-edge new voices. I had the pleasure of speaking with playwright Anthony Clarvoe about his play The Art of Sacrifice, his writing process, and exciting new work.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
ANTHONY CLARVOE: Several events added up to an irresistible force: a school trip to CYRANO DE BERGERAC at ACT; being commissioned to write the 8th grade play (THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES; I got to play Sherlock Holmes, too); Hal Holbrook making MARK TWAIN TONIGHT a piece of living political and social commentary. I wanted to be part of that highly focused way of being in the world.
JL: Tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you write in the same place or in different places?
AC: I’m a serial obsessive, and the only way I can justify the book-buying is to turn the obsession into a play. So my place will tend to be covered in books and materials about whatever I’m working on. That tends to mean that wherever I have a desk, that’s not where I write. I’m a native Californian, so I do a lot of writing while driving. I don’t write in a linear way, so at some point I need to print everything, spread it out all over the floor, and walk around on it while I rearrange the pieces and write new ones. Also, coffee.
JL: Can you tell me about the play that’s being published in Plays for Two?
AC: THE ART OF SACRIFICE was commissioned by the terrific Tim Sanford at Playwrights Horizons. I was obsessed with chess at the time – my older son got curious about it, I decided to teach him better than I had learned it myself, and there we were. He grew out of it and I didn’t. A little dramatic exaggeration, and I wrote a play about the chess champion of the United States and his compulsively driven father. Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, and NY Theatre Workshop did wonderful readings. Charles Towers championed the play, producing and directing it at Merrimack Repertory.
JL: What excited you about being a part of this anthology?
AC: I’ve read and admired Eric and Nina’s anthologies for years. I grew up learning about plays by reading them in collections like these in the public library. There are some terrific writers in this book and I expect to learn a lot by reading it.
JL: What advice do you have for up-and-coming playwrights?
AC: See plays often and talk about them. Read plays deeply and take them to pieces. Act in plays by other people. Find people you want to connect with through theater.
JL: What next for you? Where can we follow your work?
AC: A couple of extraordinary theater ensembles have invited me to be a resident guest artist and write plays with them this year. With the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Pennsylvania, I’m working on a piece about the revolutionary 18th Century scientist and religious thinker Joseph Priestley. With Ragged Wing Ensemble, which is opening a new performance space in downtown Oakland, CA, I’m co-creating an event called REDWOLF. Broadway Play Publishing’s website is a great place to find my published work. Otherwise, the benefit of having an odd name is that I am easily Googled.
About the Playwright
Anthony Clarvoe has received the American Theatre Critics, Will Glickman, Bay Area Theatre Critics, LA Drama Critics, Elliot Norton, and Edgerton New American Play awards; fellowships from the Guggenheim, Irvine, Jerome, and McKnight Foundations, NEA, TCG/Pew Charitable Trusts, and Kennedy Center; commissions from South Coast Rep, Mark Taper Forum, and Playwrights Horizons; and the Berrilla Kerr Award for his contributions to American theater. Productions include Pick Up Ax (South Coast Rep, San Jose Rep), The Living (Denver Center), Let’s Play Two (South Coast Rep), Ambition Facing West (Trinity Rep, Theatreworks), Ctrl+Alt+Delete (San Jose Rep, George St. Playhouse), The Brothers Karamazov (Cincinnati Playhouse, Circle X), Show and Tell (Rep Theatre of St. Louis), and Our Practical Heaven (Aurora Theatre). His plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. Anthony is a regular instructor at the Playwrights Foundation, Stagebridge, and Playground.
About the Anthology
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!