Thursday, March 5, 2015

FRIGID New York Interview - Cristina M. Ramos of "Heart of Oak"

By Byrne Harrison

Show: Heart of Oak
Photo credit: Anais Koivisto

Cristina M. Ramos, alumna of Columbia University and The Lee Strasberg Institute, is an acting, singing, dancing, directing, fight enthusiast who also writes plays in her "spare" time. Favorite performance credits include: Tales of the Perpetually Single But Eternally Optimistic, Real | Crazy, and Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, as well as dance-theater pieces at The Latin Billboard Awards and Latino Night at Madison Square Garden. She is certified with recommendation in unarmed and sword & shield stage combat with the SAFD, and is currently working on two original plays and an adaptation of a Spanish play. She's also a Company Collaborator with Everyday Inferno! Resume, photos, videos and more at

Tell me a little about your show.

Heart of Oak is a (literally) legendary tale of a princess who becomes a pirate to avoid an arranged marriage. She wrangles together a crew consisting of a laundry woman, seamstress, lady's maid, farm girl, cook, and scullery maid (that's me!). As her betrothed hears stories of this princess-turned-brutal-pirate he was meant to marry, he falls in love and sets out on a quest to find the woman behind the myth. But this is not your childhood fairytale… This woman is dark, complicated, and more than a little dangerous. There are raids and mutinies, shanties and sword fights, betrayals and love triangles... It's pretty jam-packed!

How did you become involved with it?

I auditioned and prayed my little heart out! I've worked with Everyday Inferno before - I'm actually a Company Collaborator – and I've auditioned for them before, but this is my first time getting cast in one of their full productions. I couldn't be happier that it happens to be a play about some really remarkable women.

Who else is helping you bring the show to FRIGID?

We've got an exceptionally devoted and talented creative team (our producer doubles as our stage manager… yeah, that devoted), a hugely supportive group of company members (I think our Director of Social Media is more excited than I am!), and an astonishingly broad list of donors that includes family, friends, past Everyday Inferno artists, and total strangers who just love the work this company does. Not to mention a cast that's gonna knock everyone's socks off.

Who would be your dream audience for this show?

Some combination of bi-curious artsy multi-racial women, nerdy teenage girls, and alpha-men. I feel like the first group would totally appreciate the show for its many layered-ness (let's just say it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors), the second group would find some women they could be excited to look up to, and the third group would simply have to admit (like our male lead does!) that these are some very real, imperfect women who are bewitchingly badass in a wide variety of ways. 

As a theatre artist, who are your biggest influences?

Oh gosh… would it be weird to say Wagner? Putting his politics and anti-semitism aside for a moment… He was all about the "Gesamtkunstwerk " – a concept that I worked into an independent study in college and thrills me to this day. It's the idea of a true masterwork, an art that encompasses all the arts. Every time I perform or create theatre I try to keep that concept in mind. Is this as full as it can be? Does this character paint, sing, sew, fight? What does she touch, smell, hear?

A life is a thing that is full of art. And theatre can be such a wildly liberating way to express life. So for me, every piece, and every character within it, should be full of art.

What shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

I'm really excited about Erik – it looks dark and hilarious and therefore right up my alley! I also plan to check out Whiskeypants: The Mayor of Williamsburg, because, come on, that title! And Post Traumatic Super Delightful was honestly super delightful at Snapshots… I think I'm going to be seeing a lot of shows.

What is next for you in 2015?

I plan to get certified in small sword with the SAFD by May and hopefully another weapon or two before the year's out. I'm also going to Universal Orlando for a long weekend because, well, Harry Potter. A friend and I are working on a night of two-person one-acts together (including the gorgeous and terrifying Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen by Tennessee Williams). And I'm really hoping to get some readings and/or full productions of my own original works up and running before the clock strikes 2016 (hopefully with Everyday Inferno or even next year's FRIGID!). Not to mention the grand old audition grind and the exciting works and relationships that can come out of it!

Lightning round

Favorite theatre professional? Currently, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Current show you would love to be involved with? Cabaret

Your dream show to be involved with? Venus in Fur

Who would you most like to have a chance to work with? Geoffrey Rush

Your best theatre experience? Starring in a staged reading of my first original play

Your worst theatre experience? Seeing Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway. It was bad. And I played Rosie Alvarez in high school so I sort of wanted to stomp on stage and take over the part or just leave.

Person you’d most like to thank for getting you where you are today? People, not person. My family. They're everything.

For more about Heart of Oak, visit the FRIGID New York website.

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