Transcript – Episode 5 – The Interview by Mark Harvey Levine
Ava Love Hanna: [00:00:00] Welcome to stories found. Each week we feature funny, weird, and mostly true stories from writers, artists, and storytellers around the world. I’m your host, Ava Love Hanna, a writer and humorist from Austin, Texas. Joining me is my writing partner, audio engineer, and all around cool guy, Paul Hanna. You’re listening to Stories Found.
Our featured organization this week is whiskey theatre factory, a theater collective based in Orlando, Florida with the mission to produce meaningful theatrical productions that uplift develop and celebrate emerging and untapped voices. I adore the work being done by WTF, and I urge you to visit them at whiskeytheatrefactory.com to learn more.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode of stories found. [00:01:00] In this episode we will be chatting with one of my favorite playwrights, Mark Harvey Levine, and hearing his hilarious 10 minute play, The Interview. Mark has had over 1900 productions of his short plays everywhere from Bangalore to Bucharest. And from Lima to London. His plays have won numerous awards, been published in dozens of anthologies and been featured in events all around the world.
He’s even had plays adapted into both film and television programs. I’ve been fortunate enough to run into mark virtually several times over the past two years. And let me tell you, he is not only an incredible playwright and a very funny writer, but he’s also a super nice guy and I am beyond excited to introduce you to him today.
Hi Mark. Thanks for joining us today to chat about your hilarious play The Interview. Well, I guess you’re here to be interviewed about the interview.
Mark Harvey Levine: Exactly
Ava Love Hanna: First, I have to say that we love this script. You sent it [00:02:00] over. I read it and halfway through, I knew we were gonna record it. We both love it, the actors love it. In fact, recording the script was super challenging because we all had to try not to laugh at each other’s lines. So tell us a little bit about the play. Where did you get this idea?
Mark Harvey Levine: I’ve always loved office supplies. Um, I guess I was a weird kid. I used to like, as, as a kid, no, I used to love to go talk to the office supply store and, you know, get little fun, little pen and, um, you know, I, um, I also like zombies so I thought, you know, what if you had a fight zombies and all you had were office supplies?
Ava Love Hanna: Well, I have to say this script is filled with some amazing lines and incredible timing, and it’s sort of deceptive in that. It seems like a straight comedy, but there’s these lots of little layers that show up throughout the script. Like I’ve worked in a corporate office and you’ve really nailed the experience here is this play a statement about corporate office culture?
Mark Harvey Levine: yeah, a little bit. I mean, [00:03:00] you know, I’ve, I’ve gone on my share fair share of, uh, job interviews and, uh, you know, there’s just, they’re not fun. And , there’s these things that happen all the time. They always ask, you know, what are your, what are your greatest weaknesses? And you got a way to answer that question.
Ava Love Hanna: And it’s even harder when you’re trying to kill zombies at the same time. well, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a few festivals with you and your work now. And I’m always delighted when I see your name on the playwright list, which happens a lot. So tell us what some of your current projects are.
Mark Harvey Levine: Um, well, let’s see, I have, uh, played going up at the colonial Playhouse.
Ava Love Hanna: Okay.
Mark Harvey Levine: Uh, near Philadelphia. Um, So that’s fun. And then, uh, there’s this group called play zoomers mm-hmm we’re doing a play of mine called the kiss on zoom
Ava Love Hanna: mm-hmm
Mark Harvey Levine: um, and that was interesting because, you know, uh, almost all my plays have have kisses in ’em they’re mostly romantic [00:04:00] comedies. This is, this is, uh, one of my few plays that, that actually doesn’t have a kiss in it and not a romantic comedy.
Um, and you know, since the pandemic started kissing on stage is, is like a. Little difficult now. yeah. You’re, you’re sort of taking your life in your hands, a little added risk, your lips so, um, but they’re, they’re doing that on zoom. Unfortunately we found, uh, two actors that actually live together and are married, so they do not mind kissing.
Ava Love Hanna: Oh, perfect.
Mark Harvey Levine: And passing, whatever germs they have.
Ava Love Hanna: Yes. Okay. So one last, very important question. What’s your favorite office supply for a zombie fight?
Mark Harvey Levine: well, you know, and I had to include this cuz it is my favorite off supply is the staple remover.
Ava Love Hanna: I knew it.
Mark Harvey Levine: The dragon thingy that you, you squished together. it’s just, I mean, it’s such a, a, a weird little thing.
Like, you [00:05:00] know, we’re such a weird, specific job, but I, I find I I’ve used it so many times. Like how many times have you stapled something? Realize, oh, I didn’t want to staple that or. Or you, you know, I think there’s like some sort of conspiracy with the stapler manufacturers, because like, you know, half the time you staple something and the staple comes out weird, it’s like, uh, twisted and you want it to look neat.
So then now you have to remove that staple and put it in another staple. So I think it’s conspiracy, it’s either to sell more staple removers or more staplers or something. . But anyway, but I always love those little things cuz they’re just so sort of sweet and ridiculous,
Ava Love Hanna: sort of a perfect single use item.
Mark Harvey Levine: Yes, exactly. That’s all they do. They remove staples. That’s that’s all they can do.
Ava Love Hanna: And kill zombies,
Mark Harvey Levine: right. And take out zombies in very, very close fighting.
Ava Love Hanna: thanks so much for chatting with us today, Mark.
Mark Harvey Levine: Well, thank you.
Ava Love Hanna: So without further ado, we are proud to [00:06:00] present The Interview by Mark Harvey Levine. It’s being performed for you today by Liz Bernstein as Janice, Joe Llorens as Frank and Ava Love Hanna as Claire.
Claire: Hi, Janice. Frank Wafford is here for his 11 o’clock.
Janice: Send him in,
Frank: uh, hi. I’m I’m Frank. Thanks so much for taking the time to see me today.
Janice: Have a seat. Do you want some water or coffee or anything?
Frank: No. No, your assistant offered, but, oh, I, I brought a copy of my resume. If, if you don’t have one,
Janice: got it right here. So you want to work for Clapham Peckman and Raine and associates.
Frank: Yes. [00:07:00] Very much. I, I, I think I’ve got a lot to offer to the team.
Janice: Well, I see you’ve got some good skills with Excel, QuickBooks pro Sage a
Frank: I’ve been with Intuit for seven years. I know the text code inside and out until they change it again.
Janice: Of course. And how are you with the undead.
Frank: I know Capoeira, uh, Muay thai and, oh, I’m a grand master in hapkido.
Janice: Hmm. Weapons?
Frank: I prefer throwing stars and swords, but I’m, I’m experienced with most pistols rifles and semiautomatic machine guns. I’ve got a yarnell 850 slide action. Double barrell rifle. That’ll take out a medium size group of zombies and leave nothing but some spinning entrails .
Janice: Oh wonderful. Oh, I forgot. We use a six column red line accrual basis. Accounting method.
Frank: Not, not a problem. I’ve used that a bunch of times. [00:08:00]
Janice: Excuse me, Claire. Is that?
Claire: Yep. Zombie attack. They’re in banking services.
Janice: Ah, damnit. I told them to secure their area. Oh, well, This will be a great chance to see what you can do.
Frank: Uh, I can come back if this isn’t a good time
Janice: nonsense. We’d love to see you in action.
Frank: Well, I, I didn’t bring any of my weapons.
Janice: We like our accountants to be prepared. Mr. Wofford
Frank: because I don’t need them. Uh . I want you to see how well I can improvise in a crisis.
Claire: They’ve breached account receivables.
Janice: Well, they’ll be here any second. This really is a great opportunity.
Claire: They’ve got Stuart Havner
Janice: Stuart was always a slow mover. Well, it looks like we have [00:09:00] another opening.
Janice: Okay. So a zombie attack is imminent. All we have is what you see on my desk. What do you do?
Frank: Uh, okay. Let’s see. Letter opener for stabbing coffee mug for smashing. Um, do you have one of those little, uh, uh, staple remover thingies?
Janice: I, I, I think so. Hang on, here you go.
Frank: Staple remover for close fighting
Claire: they’re here. They’re
Janice: well, great. Now I need a new assistant too.
Frank: I might know someone.
Janice: Oh, wonderful. Have them email me their resume
Frank: will do.
Janice: So. Frank, what would you say are your greatest strengths?
Frank: Um, I’m a team player I follow through on my tasks and I, I I’ve got [00:10:00] a good right hook.
Janice: And your biggest weakness?
Frank: Oh, that question.
Janice: Yes. Everyone hates that one, but we have to ask
Frank: I never know what to say. Have a cup of coffee fiend. Ugh. I suppose my biggest weakness is, uh, complete lack of mercy when it comes to the undead.
Janice: Oh, good answer.
Frank: Because it sounds like a weakness, but it’s really a strength
Janice: yes. Well done. And, and where do you see yourself in five years
Janice: don’t we all
Frank: open this letter
Janice: so, do you have any questions?
Frank: Uh, I have a couple, uh, if you don’t mind
Janice: go right ahead.
Frank: see a staple remover can be your best friend in a situation like this. Uh, [00:11:00] I was wondering about the benefits.
Janice: Oh, we offer a comprehensive benefits package, a medical dental. There’s a 401k
Frank: it’s, it’s just a, my wife and I, we were hoping to start a family in, in the next year or so.
Janice: Oh yes, we have an excellent family leave policy. I think the fathers get two weeks. Plus you get 20 funerals a year. So helpful in this day and age,
Frank: uh, that’s really very kind vacation time.
Janice: You get one week and then once you’ve been here for two years, assuming you survive, you get two weeks.
Frank: Uh, that seems fair.
Janice: We’re surrounded back to back.
Frank: Time to white out the mistakes.
Janice: I’m stamping. You canceled.
Frank: See how you like paper cuts.
Janice: Let’s put a pin in this one.
Frank: Eat scotch tape.[00:12:00]
Janice: Oh, well done. We got all of, oh, damn. I think I’ve been bit
Janice: I don’t know either that, or I got myself with a stapler.
Frank: Uh, is it serious?
Janice: No, I don’t think so. It’s just a scratch. I’m just a little lightheaded. I think I just need to lie down for a second.
Frank: Uh, Ms. Weber, did Janice, are, are you okay? Should I? Hmm. You know, I’ll J I’m, I’m gonna show myself out and
Janice: sorry [00:13:00] wasn’t myself for a second. Uh, Feel much better now.
Frank: Uh, Hey, can I get you a glass of water or anything?
Janice: No, no just needed, uh, rest. Well, well, um, everything look in order.
Frank: Uh, that’s good.
Janice: How you feel about working with zombies?
Janice: you okay. Working with zombies, you not prejudice or anything?
Frank: No, no, no. Of course not. I mean, I I’ve worked with all sorts of people.
Janice: Good, good. Because we equal up, we equal up, [00:14:00] um, equal up. We hire everyone regardless of race, creed, color, or deadness.
Frank: That’s that? That’s great.
Janice: We got a lot of zombies working here. Claire, Claire, how many undead we got working here?
Claire: Oh, let’s see. We got five in legal, 12 in tax services is, uh, 13. Oh. Whole it department.
Janice: How would they tell the difference? okay. That going to be problem? [00:15:00]
Frank: No, not at all. No, I know, I know lots of zombies. Uh, the, the guy I play racketball with on Saturdays, his arm keeps falling.
Janice: And you have no problem with this.
Frank: No, no, I, I prefer to work with zombies actually. I mean, you, people are, are just,
Janice: but you people, you, people are that sound a little racist.
Frank: No, I did not. Oh, I did not mean it that way. I, I assure you,
Janice: do you think all zombies alike, we all shuffle along slowly, arms out like this.
Frank: No, no, no, of course not just except in the movies,
Janice: this not movies, this real life. Oh, well, real death. Okay. Well, [00:16:00] I think I seen enough.
Frank: Thank you for taking the time to see me today. I, I really think I could bring a lot to the table.
Janice: The, uh, lunch table.
Frank: good. One good one.
Janice: look, I like you, you have a special something. Something we need. I’m going to go ahead and, uh, make offer. We like to move quickly here at Clapham something and something. Uh, Claire, Claire, we are going to bring Mr. WAFF here into company.
Claire: [00:17:00] That good. Good.
Janice: After all, we’re looking for a man with Braaaaains
Frank: I’ll ,I’ll need to discuss the offer with my wife. Of course
Janice: don’t be silly. Welcome to company.
Frank: I, I can get back to you later today.
Claire: Janice your 1130 here.
Janice: Tell him I at lunch.
[sound of Frank screaming]
Ava Love Hanna: You’ve just heard The Interview by [00:18:00] Mark Harvey Levine. If you’d like to read more of Mark’s work, make sure to look for him on NPX the new play exchange. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We’ll have a blog post with more information about mark, as well as links to his social media pages and some of his other work.
You’ll also find bios, headshots and social media links for our amazing actors, Liz Bernstein and Joe Llorens you can find all of that on our website, StoriesFound.com
This episode has been graciously sponsored by Team Jemini designs. The perfect place to find bold, fun, pop culture, themed items. I’m not exaggerating. When I say that most of the t-shirts in my own closet were designed by Tasha. Visit her at teamjeminidesigns.com
Thanks for listening to Stories Found we’ve been your hosts, Ava love Hanna and Paul Hanna. Get more info about this week’s episode, subscribe [00:19:00] to our newsletter, or submit your own story and be a featured storyteller in a future episode. You can do all that and more on our website. Storiesfound.com
Stories Found was recorded at ELA studios deep in the heart of Austin, Texas.