Water by The Spoonful: Interview with Cindy Ramirez

Meet Cindy Ramirez who plays Haikumom/Odessa in Water by the Spoonful.  Cindy has been performing as a singer/actor in Honolulu for nearly 20 years, and we’re pleased to have her back in another TAG production.  Her last TAG performance was for Richard Tillotson’s Inside Out, which earned her a Po’okela Award.
How did you get into theatre, and how long have you been involved in the theatre world?

In college, I was a piano major and we were required to take singing classes to graduate.  Was totally surprised to find that I enjoyed singing immensely — sometimes even more than the piano!  It was a different kind of joy and freedom compared to being a pianist, so I started performing more as a singer.  Eventually, I found myself joining up with a small group of students and together we self-produced a zarzuela (Spanish operetta). That experience totally hooked me into theatre.  I loved digging into the lyrics, understanding the story, riding the emotional journey of a character.  And then the magic of creating something out of nothing:  an empty auditorium completely transformed, and not because of impressive sets or costumes.  The intangible, energetic conversation we as performers had with our audience was the magic.  From there, my journey led to musical theatre and then straight plays and improv and back again.  I love it all.
How on earth do you memorize all your lines?  What’s your process?
Oh my god, I don’t know how to begin to describe this in a linear fashion. It’s all evolved over the years, learning new things after each show, and from working with new teachers along the way. I’m sure my next show will be different than this one, especially as each role requires different things of the actor. But I’ll try to summarize my foundation to memorizing:
First, be as tense-free as possible in the body. This is all from my Alexander training. I currently work with Honolulu teacher Jill Guillermo-Togawa, who is amazing and has supported me greatly as a performer for stage, camera, singing, and voice work.  As they say, “how you practice is how you perform.” So when learning lines at home, I am mindful about continuously releasing tension in my neck, head, face, shoulders, etc.
Second, know exactly why the character is saying the words in the script. I do this using the Trigger Approach method taught by Richard Seyd.  I break my lines down into moments (not beats) and decide what in the script or in my character’s inner mind triggers me to say those words for that particular moment. A typical trigger would be ’something someone just said or did’, for example. Seyd has about 12 different categories of triggers. It’s a deep, slow, methodical process. However, it creates a very solid roadmap for my character’s impulses, naturally requiring me to listen and emotionally respond throughout the scene.
Third, embrace the mistakes. When I say a line, and it doesn’t match what the script says, I stop and carefully look at what the difference is between the two. I look at the words. Then I dissect the difference between the meanings.
For example, if I said “I don’t have any money” but the actual line is “I don’t got the money” — what’s the difference? Given the scene, I’d interpret that the first one (what I said), feels more formal, procedural, maybe a bit more in control. In the second one, (the actual script), it feels more emotional, maybe scared, or even angry, and it seems more pivotal in the conversation. A very different tone, and in my particular context, a heavier moment.
     So in doing this process with each ‘mistake,’ I try to deeply understand the difference in meaning, beyond just letters. I can clearly see where just two words can make a huge difference. And as an actor, I can know what I’m saying, and what I’m not saying.
So overall that’s the general foundation to my process.  Oh! AND having a roommate who reads with you is always a godsend.
When not acting, what do you do?
I definitely need to be creating something, or else I go nuts.  Typically, it’s channeled into cooking food from the garden.  I can be pretty ADD with things, so I guess I’m more of a ‘doodler’ with my creative projects.  I’ll sew a little bit here, sing a little bit there.  Learn a song on the ukulele.  I’ll write in fits and starts — and then with obsessive fervor.  I most definitely get together with friends and watch other friends on stage.  And then we all talk about theatre with obsessive fervor!
What “truth” do you think the audience will walk away with after seeing this show?
Water by the Spoonful follows six different characters, all very strong and independent individuals, functioning like silos. They operate very well in this way, or so they think.  They know what to do, how to act, and, in particular, the what-who-where to avoid.  “Stick to the rules, and stay alive.”  They’ve forgotten how to do otherwise.  Or are they scared of it?
The idea of connecting with another person can be tricky.  It can work, but only on certain, very specific terms.  Maybe it’s just an online relationship that stays in the chatroom.  Maybe it’s an estranged mother-son relationship where all they do is ignore each other.  In the play, the characters eventually go outside of their silos’ well-oiled mechanisms.  That’s where they discover the unpredictable ride of heartbreak and love when truly relating with another flesh-and-blood human being.
So my truth to y’all? As my character, Odessa says: “Stop being a highly functioning isolator and start being a highly dysfunctional person!”
Thank you, Cindy, for taking the time to share a bit with us and I am excited to see you on stage for your theater debut.

Get your tickets now!

Come see the Hawaii Premiere of ‘Water by the Spoonful’ by Quiara Alegría Hudes at The Actors Group (TAG), directed by Peggy Anne Siegmund. ‘Water by the Spoonful’ is running June 30 – July 23, 2017. Get your tickets online at http://www.taghawaii.net/ or call for reservations at 808-722-6941.


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The world needs theatre and TAG needs you!


TAG-The Actors’ Group
The Brad Powell Theatre
The Shops at Dole Cannery
650 Iwilei Road, Suite 101
Honolulu, HI 96817
Information: 808-741-4699/tag@hawaii.rr.com
Reservations: 808-722-6941/tagtickets@hawaii.rr.com

Order tickets online: http://www.taghawaii.net

Validated parking in Regal Theater parking structure.
Bring your ticket!


TAG is honored to be a member of Hawaii State Theatre Council. The mission of HSTC is to promote live theatre in Hawaii and encourage excellence in its management, performance, and production.

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