By Aden Craig Ralph, LCA sophomore
Trina Gratton always liked Spanish soap operas – called telenovelas – and watched them with her mother and grandmother.
“They’re addicting – all the drama, the characters and their backgrounds,” Trina said.
So when at the end of Spanish 2 at the teacher showed “Betty La Fea,” it occurred to Trina that she could propose filming a mini telenovela – all in Spanish – with her classmates to get some extra points.
The 9-minute product was “Las Llamaradas de Nuestras Pasiones” – a toxic and hilarious mixture of love, betrayal and murder acted by Lighthouse Christian Academy students.
If the scripting, acting and editing looks hastily contrived and arranged, that’s because the students didn’t have much time at the end of the semester to get it together. It’s hard to determine whether the students are spoofing the genre or themselves, which adds to the charming drollery of the unpolished short.
Trina is the brains – and the beauty – behind the production. Not only did she pour into the program her zest for soaps. She also poured in her passion for film-making and her natural spunkiness. The fun-loving jokesters and pranksters of Spanish 2 drained their own zaniness into the project.
“I love the crazy stuff, crazy ideas,” said Will Clancy, a senior who played Alejandro, the main love interest. “A regular assignment would have been too easy to get extra credit. I wanted to spike things up.”
Alejandro died at the end. “I’m a little sad to have died, but it was satisfying and fulfilling,” he quipped.
Because of a couple of no-shows on filming day, Trina actually played two parts and a teacher was recruited last minute to fill in for a student’s roll.
Betty La Fea, the most popular Spanish soap opera of all time, is a Cinderella story of a smart girl who’s despised because she’s ugly. As the show progresses, she learns how to enhance her dress, makeup and customs to become rather suddenly a hottie. This generates a hitherto unaccustomed male attention, which she spurns.
The show, originally from Columbia, went viral and was re-filmed in English for American audiences.
Mike Ashcraft, the Spanish teacher who brings 16 years in Guatemala as a missionary to language teaching, showed parts of the first episode of Betty La Fea, stopping the video every other line and quizzing student on what they heard and what it meant.
While Mr. Ashcraft drilled vocab, grammar and morphology, Trina was lost day-dreaming about making her own T.V. drama.
Trina played Esperanza and Isabela, evil twin sisters. One ruined relationships but seducing boyfriends in front of their girlfriends. The other coveted and plotted to swindle the inheritance of another character.
The assignment is a burst of creativity from the lively students at our Christian school in Los Angeles.