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 Mark Harvey Levine about his play, The Kiss, his advice on writing, and upcoming work.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
MARK HARVEY LEVINE: I’ve been involved in theatre for a long time -- I started acting when I was 10 or 11. But it was reading the collection “All In The Timing” by David Ives (who also is included in “Plays For Two”) that inspired me to start writing ten minute plays. His plays showed me the endless possibilities that the form allowed.
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?
MHL: I don’t really have a writing ritual. Unless you count staring at the blank screen and panicking. And waiting until the last minute -- that’s another important part. Plus lots of coffee. I do like to listen to music while I write. If I look up and realize I have no idea what the last ten songs were, I know I’m onto something. Most of my plays come from a “What If” scenario, really. When I find myself asking “What if (blank) were true?”, then I usually get a good idea for a play.
JL: Can you tell me about the play that’s being published in Plays for Two?
MHL: “The Kiss” is a little bit of a departure for me. Most of my plays have a supernatural element to them, but this one is completely naturalistic. I wanted to write a non-romantic romantic comedy. A romantic comedy where the two characters don’t end up together. Normally I write regular romantic comedies but I was going for something a little bittersweet this time.
JL: What excited you about being a part of this anthology?
MHL: I love being in these Vintage Anthologies. Eric Lane and Nina Shengold are so nice to work with. They’re incredibly supportive. And it’s an honor to be included with David Ives and so many other great playwrights. Plus these books tend to get around a lot, so they bring in more productions, which never hurts!
JL: What advice do you have for up-and-coming playwrights?
MHL: First of all, write write write! And then find yourself a good writing group. Preferably one where they’ll read your plays out loud and you can hear them. There’s nothing more instructive than hearing your work read aloud. I’d also advise new playwrights to join a local theatre company. Work the lights, paint sets -- learn everything that goes into putting up a production. And by being part of the local theatre community, you’ll meet actors and directors who can help you get your plays produced. Along with writing, I encourage new playwrights to submit like crazy! Get your work out there!
JL: What next for you? Where can we follow your work?
MHL: I’m working on trying to get more international productions. This month alone I’ve had productions in Bucharest, Romania and Bangalore, India. And I’m also trying to get more productions of full evenings of my work, like “Didn’t See That Coming”. I’m also teaching a workshop called “How To Write The Ten Minute Play -- And Get It Produced”. I’ve taught it in Los Angeles, Seattle and North Carolina, and I’ll be doing it in Tacoma later this month. You can keep up with me on my website: markharveylevine.com or my Facebook Page.
About the Playwright
Mark Harvey Levine has had over 1000 productions of his short plays all over the world from New York to Seoul to London to New Delhi. Evenings of his work have also played in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo (in Portuguese!), Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Indianapolis and elsewhere. His work has been translated into Portuguese, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, Romanian and American Sign Language. He has also appeared in the Vintage Anthologies “Laugh Lines” (with his play “Surprise”) and “Shorter, Faster, Funnier” (with “The Rental”). His work has been seen at such theatres as the Actors Theatre Of Louisville, City Theatre of Miami and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In 2005, the Pausa Companhia of Brazil translated six of Mark's plays into Portuguese and created the evening "Aperitivos". The production played in São Paulo in 2006, and went on a National tour of Brazil from 2007-2010. Some performances were near the Amazon Rainforest in villages with people that had never seen a play before! Mark is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University's School of Drama. He currently lives in Pasadena with his lovely wife and son. More info at www.markharveylevine.com.
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!