Mariana Carreño King

Name: Mariana Carreño King

Photo credit: Michael Palma

Hometown: It’s complicated. But Mexico City (D.F. to be precise), with NY coming very close

Current Town: New York City

Affiliations: SUNY Purchase

Q: How do you self-identify?

A: Mexicana

Q: Tell me about The Red Gene.

A: The Red Gene. It was my thesis play at USC last May. I started writing it when the last presidential election results started coming in and the world seemed upside down. It’s about a woman who is locked up in her basement as punishment for failing her conversion therapy. The government is about to demolish her house and a nun gets accidentally locked up with her. I’ve had the opportunity to develop it also with the amazing help, insights and feedback of LAByrinth Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare’s Black (Brown) Swan, and of course, the faculty and my cohort at USC.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A: I’m calling it Truckers for now, but it will probably change. Because the world is upside down, last year, too, in Mexico, when some morgues ran out of space, they loaded bodies into refrigerated trucks and ordered the drivers to drive around. So based on that premise, Truckers is about a couple of drivers and their trucks stuck at a rest stop near the border with the US. I’m not sure where I’m going with this…

Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?

A: Getting my first play workshopped with professional actors (INTAR, where I still feel at home), failing miserably at a reading, realizing the moment when something works (and when it doesn’t).

Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?

A: Mentors: Migdalia Cruz, Eduardo Machado, Ruth Maleczech, Luis Alfaro, Daniel Jáquez, José Luis Valenzuela and Evelina Fernandez, the faculty at USC and many cohorts from school and other writers groups… I’m sure there are many more! Heroes that I would have loved to have studied with: Maria Irene Fornés, Sarah Kane, Edward Albee, Shakespeare… I could keep going…

Q: What advice do you have for Latinx playwrights at the beginning of their career?

A: Read everything. See everything. Ask a lot of questions. Listen.

Q: What else should we know about you?

A: This is my first year teaching full time at SUNY Purchase and I’m very excited. Also, I get to be back in NY after three years in LA. Also! I just got a play published in a great anthology of Latinx plays, Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater. All the plays were part of the first Encuentro in 2014 at the LATC and I am super proud of the work. Talk about another defining moment!

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