Welcome to our interview series with the current rockin MFA playwrights, leading up to Seabury Quinn! This year the interview series will be a little different since different pairs of writers interviewed eachother! These pairs of writers were chosen by the head of the program to be “writing partners” and give each other feedback on each others plays throughout the spring semester.
This interview is questions for Katherine by third year playwright Catherine Weingarten. Katherine Varga is a first year playwright and wrote the super fun play “I ❤ Girls” which will be presented Friday, April 21st at 2:00pm!! Also watch out for all of the other interviews with our other writers!
Catherine Weingarten: In your work you are drawn to writing about characters communicating through the internet and through social media. Although interestingly enough you are not on Facebook or most platforms. So first of all what draws you to those subjects? And second of all, why do you reject those platforms yourself? :p
Katherine Varga: When people wrote about smartphones / the Internet / video chatting before my lifetime, they were most likely writing science fiction. As a millennial, these technologies have always been a part of how I interact with the world. So when I think about communicating, I take for granted the ability to get to know someone who is not in the room with you. As an introvert I love the fact that these technologies give you the chance to be social while being alone. But with these opportunities come restrictions, masking, and isolation. I’m interested in how our devices shape how we see each other and how we see ourselves.
I did have a Facebook for many years, and I’m still close friends with many people I originally met through Facebook. My decision to deactivate my account was a result of the realization that I was using Facebook as a destructive procrastination method: I would spend hours mindlessly scrolling through the newsfeed or old pictures and then feel like I never had time to do the things I wanted to do. So I deactivated my account. I’m sure I’m missing out on lots of great networking and Internet content, but most of the time I don’t think about Facebook. I like that if I have something to share, I tell people personally and engage in a conversation with them, rather than just posting it to my wall. And I like that I have a bit of distance from social media, so I can give more of an observer’s perspective when I write about it.
I don’t reject all social media; I’ve gotten really into SnapChat(@Kvargz) so if anyone wants to see too many pictures of Nugget the cat, add me!
Catherine: “I ❤ Girls” has such intriguing subject matter! Can you talk about what inspired you to write “I ❤ Girls”?
Katherine: In high school I loved watching Youtube celebrities like VlogBrothers and CommunityChannel and was fascinated by the online communities that formed around them, as well as the fact that people could reach millions of people just by making videos in their basement. I don’t have the personality for vlogging (like many people, I hate hearing the sound of my voice) so I wanted to write a play that would give myself (and the audience) the chance to live vicariously through a Youtube celebrity.
Catherine: You are a first year playwright! Can you talk about the process of being part of Ohio U’s full length play workshop class for the first time and hearing your play out loud and getting feedback from your classmates? How did it help inform your process as a writer?
Katherine: Yes I am! I love that our workshops consist of a staged reading of the play. I’ve been in workshops where everyone reads the play on their own and then come together to discuss it, but collaborating with actors and hearing the piece aloud is a lot more useful. I can be a perfectionist, so having the two workshops this semester forced me to complete two full drafts on a deadline and share them before I thought they were ready. Everyone in the program gives really insightful feedback, which made my revision process more focused.
Catherine : Katherine, you deserve a vacae cause you work hard!! IF you could go to Disney World with any character in your play, who would it be and why?
Katherine: Definitely Sam[the main character’s cool lesbian friend]! She would insist on trying all the intense thrill-seeking rides but wouldn’t make fun of me if I wanted to ride something like Dumbo. And while we waited in lines for attractions, she would want to engage in conversation about all the racism/misogyny/homophobia embedded in Disney movies and media. Roller coasters and cultural criticism; what more could a girl want?
Catherine: What kind of art excites you? Are there certain stories you’re always drawn to as a viewer?
Katherine: I try to write about the things that excite me: young people finding themselves, new ways of communication, the power of friendship and community. I’m also a total nerd so I love narratives that are influenced by or in dialogue with scientific fields, literary works, philosophical ideas, etc.
Catherine : Your main character does some pretty embarrassing stuff in your play which is very fun to watch as a viewer: What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Katherine: One time a friend and I were in Stratford-upon-Avon and saw a dashing Royal Shakespeare Company actor on the streets. We immediately turned into 13 year olds seeing Justin Bieber—giggling and gesturing to each other and pointing and then running away when he saw us. We got to the end of the street and then my friend was like, “We’re probably not going to come across an RSC actor in America. We should at least go say hi.” So we turned back around and walked up to him as if he hadn’t just seen us freaking out over him and very calmly were like, “Hey, weren’t you in Henry IV Part 1 last night?” He had the generosity to ignore the fact that we had completely embarrassed ourselves a few minute before and talked to us like adults and not fan-crazed adolescents.
Catherine : If you could be youtube famous for anything, what would it be and why?
Katherine: I would love to be Youtube famous for teaching people a fast and easy way to make truly excellent bagels in their own kitchens. But alas, that is a skill I lack.
Now that you like Katherine way too much and want to hang with her every day, go see her play!
(Free admission, no reservation needed)
Written by Katherine Varga
2:00 pm, Friday April 21st, Elizabeth Baker Theater, Kantner Hall
Jessi never intended for her “coming out” audition video to go viral–she just wanted it to help her get the starring role in the school play. But her video has caused her Youtube channel subscriptions to go through the roof. There’s nothing wrong with giving her fans what they want, right? After all, everyone makes things up on the Internet.
More about Katherine
Katherine Varga is a freelance writer and playwright originally from New Britain, CT. She recently received her B.A. English from the University of Rochester, where she was awarded a Take Five scholarship to study urbanization and the arts. Her plays have been developed at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York and Curious Theatre in Denver, Colorado, and read at the 2015 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.