JOE VARGA


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Joe is a highly accomplished professional scenic designer and professor based in Madison, Wisconsin where he is on the faculty of the University Of Wisconsin.  Though Varga was born in Germany of Hungarian parents, he grew up in Southern California in the Fullerton area.  He attended UCLA where he obtained a B.A. in art history and later studied at Temple University in Philadelphia where he earned his M.F.A. in scenic design. 

 

Varga worked for many years in New York City as a set designer, mostly in numerous off-Broadway productions.   He was offered a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin in the Department of Theatre and Drama where he has become a tenured professor.   Varga combines his teaching duties with travels nation-wide participating in and mounting productions for Local, Regional and National Theater Groups throughout the country.  In his resume, he lists over 40 such theatrical organizations with literally hundreds of productions.  You can scroll through this impressive list at his website mentioned below.

 

A noteworthy aspect of Varga’s work is his involvement with Community Theater. Community Performance is a specialized form of site-specific theatre created from the histories, collected stories and reminiscences of an indigenous community. Once collected, the stories are fashioned by professionals into a script that is performed by community members at a site selected for its ambience and resonance with local history. Typical sites have included cotton and textile warehouses, a former produce storage unit, landmark barns, urban community centers (former chapel and movie theatre), an uncompleted church, and even a series of “Main Street USA” storefronts. 

The main function of community performance, as originally articulated by director Richard Owen Geer in the early 1990’s, is to revive a community artistically and economically through the dramatization of local stories and events… and to provide a focus of pride in heritage that uplifts the lives of local citizens and visitors alike.

Community Performance, Inc. is an association of professional directors, writers, designers, composers, and choreographers under the leadership of Richard Owen Geer and Jules Corriere.

 

As an artistic associate with CPI, Varga has worked with various communities across the country to stage “folk plays” that bring to life the stories told in these original scripts. For more than a decade he has participated in CPI projects in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Chicago.

Varga and Cat Cohen met when they were both students at UCLA.  They were roommates in the UCLA dormitories  for a while, and through the years they have remained lifelong friends.

 

Varga is a member of United Scenic Artists, local 829 and the United States Institute For Theater Technology.  You can find out more about him his vast resume of productions at www.joevarga.com.  

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