Scary faces happy faces
When Aleysha visits her grandmother Maria in the hospital, Maria asks Aleysha not to make scary faces at her. But Aleysha can’t help it.
Danny Tejera is a writer and actor from Madrid, Spain. He has been a MacDowell fellow and a resident at Tofte Lake Center, and is currently under commission from Second Stage Theater. His play TOROS was performed in Second Stage’s 2022 Judith Champion New Voices Series. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University and got a Playwriting M.F.A. at Hunter College and UT-Austin, where he was mentored by Annie Baker and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. He’s represented by Amelia Shugrue at 2AM.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
All through college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I thought maybe I’d be a pianist, but I liked too many other things to stay locked up in a practice room all day. My senior year, I had to write a thesis for my American Studies major, and there was an option to write a “creative” thesis—a play or a short story—as long as I supplemented the writing with a long list of things I’d read as “research”. I read Annie Baker and Kenneth Lonergan and Beckett and Chekhov for the first time, and got hooked.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
My play actually came out of a mini bake-off that playwright-friend Renae Jarrett and I organized for some friends in December. Many of us had just finished grad school during the pandemic and moved back to NY, and were hungry for theater community. When we saw that the OOB Festival deadline was coming up, we used it as an excuse to make a list of ingredients, crank something out, and hear each other’s work aloud again. I didn’t even consider that mine might make it into the festival.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Playwriting is something to do.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Plays: BJJ, Baker, Young Jean Lee, Maxwell, Shawn, Fornes, Shepard, Churchill, Chekhov, Beckett.
Prose: George Saunders, Zadie Smith, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf.
Film: Ozu, Kiarostami, Olmi, Buñuel, Varda, Ackerman, Truffaut, Rohmer, William Greaves, Elaine May, Spike Lee, Mike Leigh, Baumbach/Gerwig, Janicza Bravo, Mia Hansen-Love, Caveh Zahedi.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
People don’t usually think I’m foreign. I somehow wound up with a California accent even though I grew up in Spain. It can actually be frustrating because I’m super inarticulate, but because I sound fully American, people just think I’m stupid. (Or maybe it’s a lucky excuse I have: “Sorry I make no sense! I’m foreign!”). But I do think I make the most out of my outsider relationship to language. I think it’s why I write plays and not prose. Characters in a play can sound stupid and it’s okay.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m currently finishing a draft of my play Electra Martínez, an autofictional adaptation of Electra that I started in grad school and recently worked on at MacDowell. After that, I’m going to work on a screenplay inspired by Rohmer’s Le Rayon Vert, and will start research for my 2st commission.