THE INTERNET – DAY. AN INTERROGATION.
The INTERNET fires ten questions to a six-foot tall Scandinavian girl, KATHARINE HENNER. While Katharine speaks, she also maintains an impressive handstand.
INTERNET: WHO ARE YOU???
KATHARINE: I am Katharine Henner. I am a writer.
INTERNET: WHAT DO YOU WANT???
KATHARINE: I want to write for television.
We get to write more stories with one television premise than any other medium. I want to continue to collaborate with other writers for months and even years, finding infinite stories within a specific world we have created. Iʼm a storyteller. I try to locate the best place to start and find the structure in which they can be appreciated.
When I was little and it was summer in Ohio, my little sister and I would cook hot dogs, watch THE PRICE IS RIGHT, and go to the pool every day. The pool was a 20-minute walk. To entertain us, Iʼd study the houses we passed and weave an intricate but completely untrue story about the people that lived there. When we arrived to the pool, Iʼd yell, Haha just kidding, you asshole! and dunk her head under the water.
I may be a good writer, but I am a terrible older sister.
INTERNET: WHAT HAVE YOU WRITTEN???
KATHARINE: I write dramas that juggle a large ensemble of characters and push the comedy within them.
Iʼll share my recent favorites.
NIGHTS IN ULTRAVIOLET is a 10-episode web series I co-wrote and directed with Matt Cook of the Cheap Thriller. You can watch it HERE. We filmed this project with a small crew over nine months with over 30 locations and about 100 actors.
There are so many great comedic shorts on your web, but we wanted to create a serialized comedic soap opera that lets people follow their favorite characters on a journey. We reward them with callbacks and jokes that play out over time. The cast and the crew made our initial idea bigger and better. Here’s a photo of Matt and I, the creators:
A GODDAMN WESTERN is a short novella film that I wrote and directed with the Goddamn Cobras. Imagine getting the opportunity to shoot in sunny California, sleeping in tents outside and waking up every day to live in a different location! I stopped having dreams, because I was living one.
This film is currently in postproduction because we are building out a new platform of storytelling in which to share this film. You can watch a mashup of our early rehearsals we shot in Brooklyn.
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT is a play about the circus that I first wrote and read in London, under the direction of BAFTA-award winning director, Kfir Yefet. I kept it in my pocket when I returned to New York. I laughed to myself about it, but I had no idea what to do with it. Then I met Bob Teague. We were paired together during a 24-hour play festival and I wrote him a horror play THE UBI that was half-written in Esperanto. It made perfect sense to me, because when I am awake at crazy hours…the first thing I think about is teaching myself a new language. It worked! His ex-wife was coincidentally a native Esperanto speaker, so he took that play and advanced it to the finals. How does this happen??
We staged our circus For Your Amusement together, and under his guidance, I wrote a longer version. It deals with normal workplace grievances in a dark, surreal, sense.
DICK BELL BALLS OUT is play I wrote for Ex-Libris Theatre Company. I worked with one of my favorite directors, Nick Leavens. The first time I met him, he filled in for a director of mine that dropped out at the last minute and took my play SPEAKING IN STOMACHS and our actors under his wing. His confidence in us drove the project. For Dick Bell Balls Out, we had the sanctuary of a church. What happened in my writing and what you come to find out was that this place was a gladiator-style type of religious service where patrons beat the shit out of each other to decide who got to be God for the week. Black eyes for everyone!
Thereʼs so many hard-working people Iʼve met that inspire me to write more and better. Everyone is so focused and disciplined, but the best part is when we are able to make time to play and experiment. The best ideas can happen.
INTERNET: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW???
KATHARINE: Writing original pilots! I would love to share them with you.
INTERNET: WHERE DID YOU COME FROM???
KATHARINE: Cincinnati Ohio. The midwest. Thatʼs why Iʼm so tall. I drank a gallon of milk a day and worked as a carnie at the local amusement park where I was accepted.
I also went to an all girlsʼ private high school in Ohio and wore a uniform until I was seventeen. I obviously freaked out when I went to college at Arizona State University on a full scholarship for theatre, asking anyone and everyone, “Ahhhhh when do you repeat your clothing?” It was a very hard transition.
I traveled to London to receive a masters degree in playwriting, screenwriting, and television writing at the Central School of Speech and Drama. This was the turning point of my life.
INTERNET: WHO HAS INFLUENCED YOU???
KATHARINE: You, darling. Itʼs obscenely fascinating to read your wikipedia article about Freddie Mercury or the memory of loci on a cold winter night. Then I quickly spiral into watching fan videos on YouTube about the FULL HOUSE love affair with Michelle Tanner and Uncle Jesse. Or listening to Katharine Hepburn (my namesake!) read a letter to Spencer Tracy eighteen years after his death. You make me cry, Internet. You eventually make me cry.
There is a lot of great writing on your web. Have you seen shows like CAFE BLOODBATH or BROAD CITY or I HATE BEING SINGLE or ACTING REEL MASTER DATABASE? These are great people Iʼve worked with in the past year whose comedy raises the bar.
I also have a soft spot for the Brits. ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS is the best show I have ever seen. I can’t wait to watch the second season of DOWNTON ABBEY. The writers of SKINS dug deeper than most of our awkward America teen dramas were ever allowed to go.
I also read a lot of books and plays. I ride the subway a lot in New York and I donʼt want people to know that I am staring at them.
INTERNET: SAY SOMETHING FUNNY.
INTERNET: DO YOU DO ANYTHING BESIDES WRITE???
KATHARINE: I rarely perform, but when I do, I usually get the hilarious weirdo parts like a robot hamster girlfriend or a tap-dancing logger. This past November, I had the opportunity to perform in ACRES OF CLAMS, a new musical by Arm & El Beau about the history of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. We played to a sold-out audience at Ars Nova. Here’s a photo of me portraying Mount Saint Helens in the rock ballet of teacher Mary Kay Latourneau’s forbidden love with her 12-year old student, Villy Fualaau.
I work a day job at a Swiss perfumery, where I mix colognes, lotions, butters, deodorant, and even edible body glitter. I could talk to you for three hours about the history of fragrances and the origins of different raw materials. They are a mysterious industry that most people know very little about. I also freelance for their creative studio.
I also make time to teach myself both useful and less immediately useful skills. You never know when you will be held at gunpoint and forced to hula hoop in a gorilla suit.
Just kidding, you asshole! I was not forced.
INTERNET: WHY DO YOU KEEP GOING ON ABOUT COLLABORATION???
KATHARINE: Collaboration is the best and hardest part of any project. With each collaboration, your network grows. You have access to more talent and more resources. Your own skills improve as a result.
After I create something, I will not being standing alone and patting myself on the back. Instead, I will be celebrating with every person that took my tiny writer idea and made it bigger and brighter. We made this together.
(At this point, Katharine Henner probably falls down from her handstand. But in a graceful way.)
INTERNET: I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU. I WILL NOW EAT YOUR BRAIN.
KATHARINE: I figured something like this would happen. You seem pretty cool, Internet. Why donʼt we start by being friends?
For a good time, call firstname.lastname@example.org.