Our advice expert, semi-retired actor-director Armin Zaphiratous, has the expertise that denizens of the theatrical demimonde need when whipsawed by doubt and confusion. We invite you to Ask Armin anything and everything, theater-related or not. He's here to serve.
This week: Armin on fear, booze and selling out.
►Dear Armin: I’m going to audition for a part that I covet, but the character is a ventriloquist (a bad one). The only problem is that dummies seriously freak me out. They make me want to go cower in a closet and poke a ballpoint pen repeatedly into the palm of my hand. How should I get past this fear?
Dear Fearful: Meditation can work wonders in a situation like this. Here's a little how to: Find a calm, comfortable, quiet place. Sit in a traditional cross legged style if you are able. Take in deep relaxing breaths. On each exhale you will repeat this mantra: "Stop being a pussy." —YOURS, ARMIN
►Dear Armin: In the play I’m currently in, the characters drink booze. Not of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? proportions, but they do throw a few back. Our director insists on using the real deal, mainly because it’s hard to match the color of certain types of brown liquor. Also, I suppose, he wants us to play getting drunk believably. I’m pretty sure this goes against the rules. But for me, it's working. Is this advisable?
Dear Drunkard: Whoa! What you have there is what the kids would call a "cool" director. I guess if you're all non-Equity and consenting adults you can drink what you want onstage. As much as I've loved-loved-loved loved alcohol and drugs in my life, I've never performed drunk. Maybe I should give it a try. Maybe I've overrated concentration. Man, I'm really feeling this idea. Oooh! You know what I'd love to see? People performing Tracy Letts' Bug while on meth. Or have everyone really murder Caesar! I've just invented a new theatrical genre: The Snuff Play. Umm, I gotta go start working on...something...unrelated. —YOURS, ARMIN
►Dear Armin: I’ve been offered a recurring role in a sitcom that, to be frank, is dumb as hell. All of my hipster theater friends make fun of it all the time. So do I. But it’s good money. Is it OK to whore yourself out on a project that you know is beneath you?
Dear Working Actor: I’m assuming these same hipster friends have also never seen a piece of theater that they, themselves, couldn’t have done better. If I’m right about that then I suggest you take the role and buy new friends.—YOURS, ARMIN
We invite you to Ask Armin via email at AskArmin@TheaterJones.com. Go on and ask. When he doesn't have enough queries to ponder, he bothers the hell out of the TheaterJones editors. Also, we don't stand by or even agree with all of Armin's advice. So don't hold us responsible if things go terribly wrong.