WHO DOES A CHARACTER BELONG TO?

Nov 26, 2008


Each of the case studies I've investigated is guided by a set of research questions specific to that telenovela and its context. There are also recurrent questions that pop up in every study. As I go through each telenovela, interview, analysis and observation, I get closer to the answer, but these recurrent questions are so complex and nuanced that I never find THE final answer.

One of these questions is: Who does a character belong to?

a. To the writer who conceived it
b. To the writer who writes it day in and day out
c. To the actor who personifies it
d. To the audience
e. To all of the above

I've learned that all these options are correct at one point or another in the lifetime of a character, from its conception in a writer's mind to the appearance of The End on the television screen. At first, the character belongs exclusively to the writer. Then a co-production stage begins between the writer and the actor. At the beginning of this stage, the actor interprets the script much in the same way as a musician interprets a score. But, soon the nature of this co-production changes and the character becomes a sweater knitted in tandem by the writer and the actor, each of them holding one of the knitting needles.

There are other elements that contribute to the construction of the character: direction, wardrobe, makeup and music, among others. When the telenovela is finally broadcast, the audience's reading often modifies both the writing and acting involved in the character. In the end, if the character works correctly, it belongs to all. At the same time, we can also say that it belongs to no one because it has acquired a life of its own.

What do you think? Who does a character belong to?

TO OVERCOME AND LIVE

Nov 20, 2008


Studying telenovelas has allowed me not only to study how these melodramas are produced, but also to get to know well those who work "making" them. I've received a lot from everyone who works behind and in front of the cameras. They have opened their homes, dressing rooms, TV studios and offices to me, so that I could understand how a telenovela is made, a character is constructed, and the way these serials take over the lives of those who work in them. 


Behind the glitter that covers everything on the television screen are real human beings who work their magic so that we believe the stories and characters they're telling us. But, there are occasions in which their real lives teach us important lessons. 

Early in 2007, actor Daniela Bascopé was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 24. After months of treatment, Daniela recovered and is back on television as Natalia in telenovela La Vida Entera. And this week, Daniela presented her book Vencer y Vivir (To Overcome and Live), in which she shares her experience with her illness. 

In La Vida Entera we can also see Lourdes Valera, who has taped her character Rosa Coronel as she underwent treatment for cancer.

Here's a video of the morning show Portadas in which telenovela La Vida Entera was promoted. In addition to being an example of how a telenovela is promoted in Venezuela, you will be able to watch Daniela and Lourdes as they explain the characters they play and give us their message of courage. (The video is sort of stretched, I don't know why. At the end of the Portadas' sequence, there is an example of a promotional of La Vida Entera).







Last week I attended the premiere for the press of my new object of study: telenovela LA VIDA ENTERA. This isn't my first time in these events that, along with the promotional spots, constitute the publicity engine for the new telenovela. 

To be sure, this is a public relations event. The centerpiece is watching the first episode before it airs. In the event, information about the new telenovela is disseminated via a press kit. LA VIDA ENTERA's press kit consisted of a glossy brochure in magazine format and a CD-ROM with photos and interviews with cast members. Additionally, the premiere allows reporters to interview writers and actors. The main outcome of this event is media coverage of the telenovela which creates expectation in the audience.
 
For a scholar, this is a fascinating event to observe. I enjoy watching the telenovela's first episode before it actually airs. Most importantly, I'm able to observe first hand the reactions of the entertainment press and actors. Later, it's truly interesting to read news stories and gossip columns about the premiere. These media stories vary immensely in quality and accuracy. (For instance, the next day a television  gossip show commented how beautiful was the "fuchsia" evening gown that actor Marlene De Andrade was wearing...when she actually wore a black dress!). 

Here's a video I prepared with images from the event. The quality is low. It was hard for me to record from where I was sitting and the resolution isn't too good. But, it will give you a taste of the event and the characters of  LA VIDA ENTERA.