Ramona Kywe The Chinese Woman, Mrs. J, Kim Lee Park, the Reporter, the Joy Luck Club Woman, the Asian Schoolgirl
Ching Chong Chinaman marks Ramona's fifth production with A-Squared. So needless to say, we love her to pieces. And we know you will, too! We asked Ramona seven questions about A-Squared, the play, and acting. Here's what she had to say.
Tell us about your A-Squared beginnings. When and how did you get involved with the company? My first time working with A-Squared was their first edition of My Asian Mom back in 2012. It was really incredible timing because one day I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed and I ran into this post from A-Squared asking for stories about your Asian mom and to send them an email. I always wanted a chance to work with them and get to know other Asian Americans in theater, so I did. We had our first meeting brainstorming the production of My Asian Mom, and the rest is history. I don't know where I would be today had I not seen that post.
Describe your character in 3 words or less. There's too many.........
What is your favorite characteristic of Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman? There's a lot of ridiculousness that happens in the play to the point where it can get a little disturbing and offensive. At the same time, there's still a lot of depth within the situations and statements from the play that address issues of race, culture, and identity and that's why I think it's brilliant.
How have you been preparing for your role? Books, movies, shows, research. And tell us about your learning and preparation process as an actor. There's a number of random things I've had to look into for this play. Research is always important depending on what's required of your character. Along with all that, it's discovering the character by performing and bringing their words to life, as well as listening to the director and working with your fellow actors as you perform the scenes. New discoveries are made constantly during the rehearsal process, sometimes even during the show's run.
Does your role draw any parallels to your own life? Would you be friends with your character? What I can say is that there are certain aspects of me that may reinforce certain Asian stereotypes, and I think we all do that to some degree. So on that level it does parallel my life in different ways. I don't think I'd mind being friends if we were on the same plane of existence, if that makes sense.
Most memorable rehearsal moment to date? I held a guinea pig and had to pretend he was a yak.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an actor? What advice would you give to aspiring actors? Be open physically and emotionally. Be free in the work. It sounds simple and easy, but it's something I and quite a few actors I've met struggle with even now, because there is something about our body's defense mechanism that can work against you when you're presenting yourself so openly. Nothing gets you further than letting yourself be free in the work.
Ramona's Bio Ramona Kywe is an artistic associate with A-Squared Theatre Workshop for which she performed in Really Rosie and all three installments of My Asian Mom. Ramona's other credits include Dream Theater Company's Women: A Comedy as well as their 24 hour playfests, various productions with CIRCA Pintig,and various sketch comedy shows with Democracy Burlesque. In July, she performed in Democracy Burlesque's (De)Generations: Sketch Comedy About Kids, Old People, And Everything In Between. She is a graduate of Columbia College with a BA in Theater.