Dreamer Seeks South American Soap Opera Stardom in ¡El Conquistador! at NYTW

News   Dreamer Seeks South American Soap Opera Stardom in ¡El Conquistador! at NYTW New York Theatre Workshop's 2006-07 season begins Sept. 20 with the New York City premiere of ¡El Conquistador!, the unique theatre experience created by Thaddeus Phillips and Tatiana Mallarino in collaboration with Victor Mallarino.
Thaddeus Phillips in
Thaddeus Phillips in

Mixing live action with video, ¡El Conquistador!, directed by Tatiana Mallarino, will be presented in Spanish with simultaneous English title projections. It's billed as "simultaneously a foreign film, theatre play, epic history and telenovela" that was created on location in Bogotá, Colombia, and has traveled the world.

It centers on Polonio (played by Thaddeus Phillips), a peasant who flees his war-torn village to become a soap opera star.

"What he finds instead," according to NYTW, "is a job as the doorman of a fancy high-rise apartment building populated by crazy and exotic residents who are portrayed by some of Latin America's best TV stars (who appear via video)."

The cast of ¡El Conquistador! is Thaddeus Phillips (Polonio) and, appearing via video, Cristina Campuzano, Luis Fernando Hoyos, Helena Mallarino, Tatiana Mallarino, Victor Mallarino and Antonio Sanint.

Scenic design is by Thaddeus Phillips; lighting design by Jeff Sugg; sound design by Jamie McElhinney; video design by Austin Switser; and the production stage manager is Rachel Zack. The vivid picture of contemporary Latin America premiered at the 2005 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, and makes its New York debut after performances at The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Nooderzon Festival (Holland), The 4+4 Days Festival (Prague), The National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque), The Mladi Levi Festival (Ljubliana, Slovenia) and the Traverse Theatre as part of the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Opening at New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th Street between Second Avenue and Bowery, will be 7 PM Oct. 3, following previews.

James Nicola, NYTW's artistic director, said in a statement, "Thaddeus Phillips is a gifted young artist who seamlessly combines theatre with video and the exploding art form of the telenovela. His work perfectly fits NYTW's mission to expand theatrical forms. New York Theatre Workshop has been working with Thaddeus for several years on developing ¡El Conquistador! and the production will be seen just as television audiences can see several new series based on the telenovela form, including ABC's 'Ugly Betty.'"

NYTW will also sponsor a Sept. 18 panel discussion on the telenovela, "to illuminate why and how the telenovela has become a worldwide phenomenon."

Thaddeus Phillips is a Pew Fellow who received his B.A. from Colorado College and attended DAMU in Prague. He is a protégé of Bulgarian scene designer Encho Avramov, and studied with tap master Jimmy Payne and Czech Puppet Theater Director Josef Krofta. He is the Artistic Director of The Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, a company that makes original innovative theatre based on subjects ranging from airline security to the last seven days of Edgar Allan Poe. For Lucidity Suitcase he has designed and created Red-Eye to Havre de Grace, The Tempest (in a kiddie pool), PlanetLear (King Lear performed on a putt-putt golf course), Lost Soles (a solo tap adventure about Wyoming and Cuba), The Earth's Sharp Edge (a travelogue through Morocco, 1970s hijackings and Newark's "Liberty" Airport).

Director and co-creator Tatiana Mallarino is from Bogotá, Colombia and is currently an artistic associate of the Buntport Theater in Denver and the Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. While in Colombia, she was involved in television production working on the telenovela, "Leche." She directed Henry Five Live, Lost Soles and ¡El Conquistador! and appeared as Leila Khaled in The Earth's Sharp Edge.

Victor Mallarino is a major figure in Colombian television and theatre, having been involved in many telenovelas, the first of which were "La Tia Julia," "El Escribor" and "Maten al Leon."

The ¡El Conquistador! performance schedule is Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM. The running time is approximately one hour and 30 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased on-line at www.telecharge.com, or at (212) 239-6200 or (212) 239-6240 (for Spanish-language operators).

NYTW's CheapTix program offers $20 tickets for all Sunday evening performances. Tickets may be purchased in advance, payable in cash only, and are available in person only at the NYTW box office.

For all performances, student tickets cost $20, based on availability, and can be purchased in advance from the NYTW box office with valid student identification.

The NYTW box office is open 1 PM to 6 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.