Frequently hearing and seeing an inaccurate description of Mexican telenovelas led dramatist Karen Zacarías to create Destiny of Desire. Based on her experience, this theatrical production illustrates what this sociocultural phenomenon has been over time.

As a Mexican living in the United States, Zacarías noticed a tendency among writers to dismissively associate works by Latino or Mexican authors with telenovela-like qualities. Zacarías responded, ''But that's not a telenovela! That's a drama! That's something else!''

Determined to set the record straight, she immersed herself in extensive research on telenovelas, aiming to create a work that would give the genre the respect it deserved.

To avoid comparing other types of work, I said, ''I'm going to write the best telenovela that can be written for the stage. I conducted a thorough study of telenovelas to determine what works, why melodrama appeals to us, and what styles they use. Destiny of Desire is a tribute, but it's also a study of the phenomenon of telenovelas as a component of our Latino culture.''

New Forms, Same Essence

While the way we consume telenovelas has evolved over time, Zacarías believes that their essence remains unchanged. 

''Simply go back to watching Korean dramas' or Betty La Fea's reintroduction as Ugly Betty. They continue to draw viewers because they possess a feature that American television shows lack: a beginning, middle, and end. Viewers can follow the characters' plotlines, whereas in American ''soap operas,'' families typically last 30 years. Therefore, if a viewer skips two years and returns, the story will still be ongoing,'' she said.

Karen stated that she formerly had the experience of watching telenovelas in a family setting and recognizes that this has changed. Still, the power that the genre retains among the television audience is undeniable.

A Committed Cast

The season of Destiny of Desire continues at The Old Globe in San Diego until the 25th of June, giving Karen the satisfaction of witnessing the cast's tremendous commitment to their characters and the audience's willingness to engage in conversation about the situations they face.

Zacarías referred to this experience as an educational exercise since bringing a telenovela to a theatrical stage is challenging.

''In some ways, the actors are completely committed to the emotions of their characters, suffering alongside them and living their drama; and while the audience is shaking because these are incredibly out-of-the-ordinary situations, everything that happens in a telenovela here happens in two hours, the play captivates them just like a telenovela because the story is a recount of what happens to these two girls in a night,'' she says.

Seeking Dialogue Between Latinos

Music serves as a soundtrack in Destiny Of Desire; we use popular Mexican songs like ''Fallaste Corazón.'' ''It's a huge tribute to the folktales and a celebration of Mexican heritage in San Diego.''

''Telenovelas were always met with criticism, so with this work, I sought to, in addition to paying tribute, examine gender roles and stereotypes and show that women are now gaining power and directing their own lives. Everything you see on the stage is subversive, and there are messages in the play.''

''I wanted to start a conversation with the audience about what it means to be Latino in this country and how we can use these stories to change the narrative and our destiny,'' Karen Zacarías said.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *