In my recent trip to Venezuela, I conducted many interviews with people who work in telenovelas in both networks, RCTV and Venevisión. I also had the opportunity to visit the set of telenovela Torrente. I'm still digesting and analyzing my field notes and interview transcripts. In this blog entry, I comment on a contrast I found that is particularly enlightening. The contrast is between two telenovelas made in Venevisión: Torrente, currently on the air, and Vieja Yo?, which is already in its production phase and scheduled for broadcast very soon.
In the set of Torrente I found a group of, (mostly young), actors and director Claudio Callao. They're working as best as they possibly can with a script that is generally predictable, occasionally contradictory and characterized by an exaggerated melodramatic tone. Network Venevisión, determined to produce telenovelas that sell well in the international market, offers us in Torrente a catalog of storylines we have seen so many times, we've memorized them. The production values, however, are much better than the script. I admired director Callao as I watched his struggle to produce a mise-en-scene with the realism and impact the script sorely lacks. I was also impressed with some of the actors who have been working their characters with dedication, taking them beyond the unclear outline barely depicted in the 40 pages that constitute each episode. I can't avoid asking myself: What is Torrente's thesis? Does it have a thesis? What do the writers want to say?