Stars and Stags: A chat with playwright, Tommy LeVrier

Interview by Jen Bush

Tommy LeVrier penned the powerful new play about to premier called Carson & Huston.  This piece based on a true account tells the story of a meeting between writer Carson McCullers and director John Huston. This play runs in rep with At Least he didn’t Die with Antlers on his head! at theatre for the New City in September.

Hailing from Texas where he received a Master’s in playwrighting and directing, Mr. LeVrier had the honor and distinction of having two of his plays produced by Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson.  You might recognize their names as two of the greatest playwrights that ever lived.  Mr. LeVrier is a Lone Star Award winner for excellence in journalism.  His plays have been produced all over the country.

We are very fortunate to hear directly from this talented artist how the journey for this play began.  “When I was 16, a friend of mine loaned me a book called The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. It has remained my favorite book and play of all time. I am amazed that more people do not know about Carson McCullers as I consider her to be the best writer that America has produced. Member of the Wedding I consider to be both the best American novel AND play.”

“I heard about the meeting between Carson and John Huston probably in one of the biographies of both artists. This meeting inspired me to write the play. I started with a ten-minute play and then made it into a one act. Eventually I added a second act.”

 Mr. LeVrier’s creative process occurs in layers.  Each layer is dependent upon the success of the previous layer eventually culminating in a two-act play.  “This is my process of writing. I find a good idea and I write a short ten-minute play. See how it holds up, and if it does, write a short one act. If it holds up, I turn it into a two-act play. That is my process.”

There are certain things that Mr. LeVrier hopes that the audience will take away from seeing this play including an appreciation for Ms. McCullers.  “I hope the result of this play is that people will show an interest in Carson McCullers. I also hope that people will see that her relationship with Daisy shows the two were way ahead of their time in terms of racial relations. I think Carson’s determination to succeed despite her lifelong invalid status will inspire others.”

Artists as well as theatre goers are weighing in on what theatre should be like post-COVID.  ‘I hope post-COVID will result in more freedom in theater and less of the intolerance we are seeing today.

Mr. LeVrier’s works have been met with success all over the country.  “My plays have been produced in New York (American Theatre of Actors), Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, and Austin. Two of my plays, Phoebe and Rapture Among the Oysters, were produced by Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson. I have also published three books with another South Peeveetoe, Texas along the way.”

This compelling description of Mr. LeVrier’s plays should have people curious enough to get in line for tickets.  “My plays have been described as, “Horton Foote meets Sam Shepard and slams into Tennessee Williams.” Edward Albee described my work as, “provocative, often deeply disturbing, but leavened with a life-saving if dark sense of humor.”

Next up, Mr. LeVrier would like to see his current plays performed in front of bigger audiences.  “What is next for me is to see Carson done on a bigger stage. This is our second production of At Least He Didn’t Die with Antlers on his Head! I plan to see more productions of this play with the same cast.”  Here’s hoping his productions go as long as a country mile!

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