August 9, 2018
2018 Institute: Meet the Players: Kenny Ramos
This summer we traveled to the other side of the country to make a new play called, The Cardinal with and about the people of Queens New York, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. The production is part of Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency, which has brought together thirteen participants (“the players”) from across the United States and Canada to live, learn, and create together. In one month’s time, and working alongside Cornerstone staff, Ensemble and community members, these creative souls are learning Cornerstone’s process for creating community-engaged theater. By participating in classes, workshops, and taking part in every aspect of the play-making process from casting, auditions, rehearsals, costume/design build, and acting. This blog series is an opportunity for you to “Meet the Players”!
Kenny Ramos AKA Assistant Director
A little bit about Kenny
“Haawka (Greetings)! My name is Kenny Ramos and I am Diegueño Iipay/Kumeyaay from the Barona Band of Mission Indians; I grew up on the Barona Indian Reservation in San Diego County before attending UCLA where I graduated with a BA in American Indian Studies. I’ve been involved with Cornerstone Theater Company since 2014 and was in the cast of their production of Urban Rez, which literally changed my life and continually inspires me and the work I do as a theater artist within my community! I studied Theater of the Oppressed at the Center for Theater of the Oppressed in Rio de Janiero and am in the Artist Ensemble of Native Voices at the Autry, the country’s leading professional Native American theater company, as well as a company member of Dancing Earth Creations, a professional dance company specializing in Indigenous Contemporary dance! As an actor, I have worked on Native-written theater work at Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR), Native Voices at the Autry (Los Angeles), The Rose Theater (Omaha, NE) and the John F. Kennedy Center (Washington, DC). I love Cornerstone and I can’t wait to meet everyone and I am looking forward to growing through this experience together!”
What inspired you to join Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency this year?
“Since my involvement with Cornerstone’s production of Urban Rez in 2016, I have been pursuing a career path that combines my passion for theater arts with my love for my tribal nation and the larger American Indian community. I applied for Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency because I want to deepen my understanding of Cornerstone’s methodology and grow into a more well-rounded theater artist with the skills to facilitate this creative process. Urban Rez changed the trajectory of my life and demonstrated how theater can impact communities in powerful and transformative ways. I strive to serve my community through theater and aim to share its medicine with Native people across the United States.”
What has been your favorite moment thus far?
“My favorite moment occurred at the first rehearsal when the community actors read through the initial version of the script for the very first time. The community had a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, and the director, playwright, and Cornerstone ensemble members listened to all the criticism and critiques with grace. I loved observing the Cornerstone process and ideologies put into action in the rehearsal room and I have enjoyed watching the script develop to address and include the community’s needs, concerns, and insights.”
What do you hope to learn from your experience this summer?
“I came to the Institute with two intentions:
1. To cultivate the skills and knowledge needed to facilitate a community-engaged theater making process.
2. To expand my practice as a theater artist outside the realm of acting and performance.
I am continuously learning from the Institute classes and curriculum, the Cornerstone ensemble and artists, the community cast members, and my fellow cohort mates. As an institute student, I am absorbing everything I can about this unique creative process, and as assistant director, I am working on this production in a new and unfamiliar capacity. In both instances I am learning an incredible amount and gaining new skills and insight to this extremely special and collaborative art form.”
Complete this sentence. Queens is….
“… a conglomeration of different people and different cultures.”
Why do you think people should come and see the play?
“People should come to The Cardinal: A Journey Through Flushing to experience the stories of people that make Queens one of the most diverse places on Earth. And seriously, the shadow puppetry rocks!”
The Cardinal performs August 10 & 11th. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets today!