Carolyn Ramsey is our Spotlight this week. Bringing the whole family with her, she's a regular on the Spitfire stage. She also pitches in behind the Box Office and is the reason we have so many great props. We talked a little about how you can't go wrong with winter weather in St. Pete, how you never stop learning in improv, and what it's like to share the stage with your kids.
What's your favorite restaurant in St. Pete?
So many great places to eat in St Pete its hard to pick. But just recently I discovered Souzou Asian Kitchen on 5th Ave. Amazing Orange Chicken great food and atmosphere. Love it. But for great burgers and tater tots... who doesn't love tater tots...it has to be The Burg!
Whats your favorite thing to do in St. Pete on a nice day?
This time of year I love the Saturday Morning Markets. Especially when we get these amazing cool weather days. Great local food and shops jump in to bring out their best. Great way to talk to lots of different people! I live closer to the beach than downtown though. You really cant go wrong out there this time of year.
What's your day job?
I just recently made a major career leap. It wasn't just a change... it was a full about face, holey cow, what was I thinking sort of change. I couldn't be happier. I'm now in the insurance industry and love the flexibility and the chance to truly help people. Change can be scary (especially after a certain age) or it can be great and freeing. Its all about perspective.
What drew you to improv?
Honestly I began when a friend started teaching adult improv classes in Seminole. I had always done theater, plays, musicals when I was younger. I went to to support HER. In jumping in to help with scene work I realized I loved it and then... people laughed. That was all she wrote. It also came at a time when I was feeling low. The kids are just about grown and busy with their stuff and not home too often. I love to perform and improv gives me that chance without a crazy rehearsal schedule. It gave me a focus at this time in my life that I needed and it's WAY cheaper than therapy.
Where did you learn to improvise?
I first learned from a Drama Coach in High School. But honestly this past year and a half I have really learned with Nancy Sears of Abba Dabba Entertainment, the friend I was helping in Seminole. She taught 2 of my kids all through High School and I watched them grow and come alive. Now we have our improv team together. Truly though, I am still learning. The amazing thing about improv is you never stop learning, picking up tips and nuances from other players and directors. Its a living breathing form of comedy that can evolve in lots of forms!
What's the most memorable moment you've had on stage?
There have been some funny moments and some great scenes this past year. But, the best moments for me are performing with my 19 and 17 year old kids on a team. What a crazy gift to have this time before they are off on their own. To step out and not be a parent but a scene partner with my daughter in a fly swatter factory (a fun scene by the way) or to watch my son get big laughs with some character he just invented. That is memorable. To be doing something we love is priceless. My oldest son comes to the shows, too. I love seeing that face in the front row, laughing and shaking his head... He has full confirmation that his mom is a bit nuts!
How would you describe your personal style or approach to improv?
It needs to be fun! There is a reason we call them 'games' in Short Form. I have learned to go in fully open to what is going to happen rather than try to make it happen. To me it isn't about a punch line or quick joke. The funny comes best when you let the characters shine and build a story for your audience. Listening to your partner is key and having their back by supporting them and sometimes rescuing one another in a scene. I am still learning and the process is a blast.
What makes a good scene in your opinion?
Full on honesty. Letting it develop by listening and being willing to follow your partner and maybe drop completely what you "thought" the scene would be. If acting is reacting, then that reaction is even more important in improv. When you fully trust the people you perform with, there is no limit to where the scene can go and how crazy funny the scenes can be. Then you can find that conflict that heightens the characters' relationships. With all of this, you have served your audience well and THAT is what we are there to do.
If improv didn't exist, what do you think you'd do instead?
Hmmm... scary thought but lets see... I believe I would be in some from of community theater. Doing plays I would hope. I would need some creative outlet. I have also dabbled in writing some kids books based on the things that went on raising my three. There is certainly plenty of material there!
What are you looking forward to right now, in general?
I consider myself blessed to be part of Spitfire Theater and look forward to hopefully having a part in helping it continue to grow! There is an amazing family of people there working together. This is also my youngest son Nick's Senior year of High School. So we have a lot going on with theater competitions for the last time for him and the kids I love in his troupe at Seminole High. Then Graduation... bittersweet and fun.
How would you describe the Spitfire community in 5 words or less?
Amazing inclusive family. Creative, talented, supportive! I used 6. I improvised...
If I've never been to Spitfire and I'm not sure if I'd like improv, what would you say to me?
Step out and come to a show. You will feel welcome and comfortable in the Spitfire Theater. Have a glass of wine or beer or bottle of water and prepare to laugh! Every show is new and fresh. Trust Me!
You can see Carolyn perform Friday & Saturday nights in The Spitfire Open with her team Cradle to Grave. She also performs Saturday nights in Whose Line St. Pete and is frequently a friendly face at the Box Office.
Want to perform at Spitfire? Winter Season Sign Ups are now open!