2016, Archives, September 2016, The MFA Years

Daria Miyeko Marinelli Introduction (UT Austin ’19)

The Basics

Name: Daria Miyeko Marinelli

Age: 28

Hometown: Hartsdale, NY

Day Job: Figure Skating Instructor

Program: University of Texas in Austin

Degree: MFA in Playwriting

Size of Program: 4 (2 in Theatre and Dance, 2 w Michener Center for Writers)

Financial Situation: Combo of Loans, Fellowship, TAing, Teaching Skating


Also Applied To (Size): Yale (3), Brown (2), Juilliard (4-5), Hunter (5), Brooklyn (5)

Rounds Applied: 2

First Year: 1 School, Brown

Second Year: 6, See Above

On Writing

The Cocktail Party Pitch: I write immersive theatre and work that seeks to redefine the theatre going-experience.

What That Actually Means: I like writing work where you’re not just sitting and watching. Maybe you’re wandering around, maybe you’re eating something. I like writing work that’s experiential (whatever that means) and weird. I like work that surprises you.

Other Things You’ll Find in My Work: Strong female protagonists, because, yes. Wild broken things. Poetic stage directions. The agony of choice and the suffering of love.

Literary Heroes: Tess Slesinger, Arundhati Roy, Ebony Stewart, Faulkner, Salinger, Junot Diaz, Cormac McCarthy, Jose Rivera

First Play: An “experimental novel” that was just dialogue that took place around a kitchen table with a bare bulb light bulb shortly after seeing Fight Club at the tender age of 13. I thought I was writing fiction, but that, that is actually a play.

What Won Me Over to Writing Plays: I was always acting, doing theatre as a kid. I was also always writing: bad poetry, long-winded fiction, fantasy in my head staring out the window of the schoolbus. I went into college thinking I would act and major in Theatre and History. I hated history class and kept getting into writing workshops. Eventually my major flipped from Theatre and History to Theatre and “Literary Arts” (aka for Creative Writing). And I kept writing, and realized that in lieu of begging to act via auditions, I wanted to be writing, and at the very least, always have the artifact of my work. Also, it felt good writing plays.

Writing Practice Now: When the deadline and the terror hit. I’m trying to develop a daily writing practice. At the moment it’s a daily, what’s the most important big thing I can do today practice. Sometimes that’s writing, most days it’s not. We’re working on it.

On Grad School

How UT Won Me: I’d been recommended to check out UT by my recommender, who was an alumna of the program. She mentioned that Kirk Lynn (faculty and head of Dept) “wrote some plays that were in my wheelhouse.” The full ride offered by the Michener Center for Writers helped encourage the investigation, and the flight down for a final round interview, along with meeting the students in years ahead completely won me over. It felt like home.  Also, they accepted me.

Most Helpful Advice Received About Applying

“Don’t go into debt and only go to the best schools. Also, try to go to hone your voice instead of spending that time finding it.”

“You never need to go, but you only get to go once. Better to go to your first choice your second round, than your third choice your first. Also, what you need might change. That’s okay.”

“If you get in. Still write like you didn’t that time in between. Show up with your backpack full.”

Completely Uneducated Advice I’d Give About Applying

  • Do all the small app stuff months in advance, and then do the real work.
  • Take care with your FASFA.
  • Have other eyes on your apps.
  • Draft and redraft and redraft. Submit early and stay calm.
  • Dream big, but budget for all those application fees.
  • If you want to do it, do it.
  • You don’t need to wear a blazer to your interview. But do look nice.
  • It might be worth the loans.
  • It’s a numbers game.
  • It might take more than one year. That’s okay.
  • Work for it. Write hard. Write desperately. Write faithfully.
  • Make the year count. Accepted or not, make it count.


Writing goal: 7 Hours/Week

Life habits: Track Time, Drink More Water

Listening: Kygo | Snacking: Queso Fresco + Honey | Reading: Plays: A Journal of Plays | App Crush: ATracker | Austin <3: Ebony Stewart (Check Her Out- She’s Amazing.)

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