My telenovelas class is having some special experiences these days. This week we also had a phone conversation with writer Leonardo Padrón, author of the following telenovelas:
Ciudad Bendita (2006-2007)
Cosita Rica (2003-2004)
Amantes de Luna Llena (2000-2001)
El País de las Mujeres (1998-1999)
Contra Viento y Marea (1997)
Amores de Fin de Siglo (1995)
His work goes beyond telenovelas. He's a well-regarded poet:
El Amor Tóxico (2005)
La Orilla Encendida (1983)
And film writer:
Miranda (2006), dirigida por Diego Rísquez
Manuela Saenz (2000), dirigida por Diego Rísquez
La Primera Vez (1997), dirigida por Luis Alberto Lamata
In the last two years, Leonardo Padrón has also worked on radio with Los Imposibles, a show organized by seasons in which he interviews 20 personalities that are "impossible to ignore."
I must mention that Los Imposibles 1 and Los Imposibles 2, turned into books, are now editorial successes.
These recognized writer had a very interesting conversation with my students. Among the topics we discussed were:
- The way he has explored the feminine through characters that break the traditional telenovela stereotype of the submissive and suffering woman who waits for, or needs, a Prince Charming who will rescue her from poverty, or from a loveless or senseless life. In contrast, Leonardo Padrón creates female characters that are warriors, with a will of their own, and who have agency over their destiny. (For example, Miranda in El País de las Mujeres).
- How he constructed Olegario in Cosita Rica, a character allegorical to President Hugo Chávez. He shared with us his intention that this character would elicit reflection in the audience. We also discussed how the Venezuelan audience read this character, and how the "villain" was in their eyes the most charismatic character of this telenovela.
- His reasons to choose Roque Valero as the male protagonist of Ciudad Bendita, and the calculated risk he took by having a protagonist that broke the stereotype of the traditional "galán" and a love story that transgressed the established telenovela codes.
- His interpretation of how the U.S. Latino market is changing the telenovela genre. And his concern that this market, dominated by Mexican immigrants from the popular classes who are used to traditional telenovelas, is beginning to determine the way telenovelas are written and produced in countries like Colombia and Venezuela. (I share this concern as I've expressed before in this blog: 1, 2).
At the end of our conversation, Leonardo Padrón congratulated my students for the level of the questions they asked. My students and I thanked him for the honesty of his answers, and for visiting our classroom. Our telenovelas class would be incomplete without the voice and presence of this recognized author.