By: Leilana Majri
Professor Mariana Carreño King is a new assistant professor of playwriting. She is currently teaching Playwriting I and Playwriting III for the Fall 2019 semester.
At age 18, Professor King moved to New York City from Mexico City, Mexico to pursue acting.
Jokingly, King remarked, “Don’t move to another country when you don’t know anybody and you don’t speak the language. It’s just not a good plan!”
Despite a difficult transition, the move proved to be fruitful for her as she began to get opportunities acting and dancing. Eventually, she was admitted to an acting school called HB Studio where she studied for two years. Later on, King went on to get her BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Goddard College.
In her 20s, while studying and working as an extra for commercials, King wrote her first play. Her play got produced, and that is when she realized she had potential to continue playwriting.
King also spent time teaching at New York University (NYU) and Queens College. There, she discovered her love for teaching. This is also when she became interested in getting her masters degree.
She moved to Los Angeles and received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Southern California (USC).
“I had a full ride; I had an international artists fellowship. And then my last semester there, which was this year, I started applying for teaching jobs. And, here I am,” said King.
King is excited to share her knowledge with the Purchase community. In order to find the best ways to teach material to her students, she often reflects on her time in school in order to better relate to students and to make her lessons interesting.
“I basically thought about why I was not happy in an academic environment. And what would I do to retain me in the class. I was such a problem kid, I think of ways that I could have helped myself when I was younger,” King recounted.
When teaching her classes, Professor King tries to guide her students through the process of playwriting, rather than presenting the material in a more traditional lecture format.
“More than teaching I think of mentoring, especially in the arts,” King said. “It [playwriting] is more about putting it into practice instead of thinking about the theory of it.”
When she is not teaching or doing readings of her plays, she takes time to read and do crosswords.
“I love crosswords, it’s like my nerdy hobby,” King said. “I started doing crosswords when I started learning English, and then I got hooked!”
Each person has a slightly different approach to playwriting, but King mentions how being curious and eager to find inspiration throughout everyday life has been a great way to find subject matter for her plays.
“I’m a news junkie. So usually I read something in the news and I’m like, ‘Whoa, what is this about?’ and I start from that,” King said.
She also encourages students to find a story that is important to them and that evokes their emotions.
King notes, “Good writing is always personal. It has to be something that matters to you.”