Armin Zaphiratous

Sing Out, Luis!

Armin answers questions about stage mothers, ethnicity and starting a theater company.

published Friday, July 23, 2010

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 stage mothers, starting a theater and ethnicity.
►Dear Armin: Our kids, who are not in pre-school yet, love play-acting. We’re thinking of installing a little stage with a curtain and a few chairs for the audience in our garage. But I’m afraid of turning them into drama queens too early. Should we do it? Thanks, Sara

Dear Stage Mom,

I say go for it! It's better than what my parents did in our garage. They fermented goat blood! Seriously. They fermented goat blood. And sold it to neighbors. Fact. I believe in stimulating children's imaginations. Mine was stimulated by imagining what the hell people were doing with fermented goat blood, and you'll be doing your children's creative souls a favor by building that little theater. They may even do some good work down there. You may be treated to one of the great kindergarten Stanley Kowalskis.—YOURS, ARMIN

►Dear Armin: I love experimental theater. The groups in my town that do that kind of work are very insular, though. I can’t break in with them. And I’m sick of doing Neil Simon in the suburbs. Should I start my own experimental company? It can’t be that hard, right?

Dear Experimental,

There's nothing easier than starting your own company. You'll just need to incorporate, write by-laws, get your 501(c)3 status with the IRS, form a board, raise money, plan the production, realize you need to raise more money, fail at raising more money, ask people to work for no money, realize you can find actors who will work for free but stage managers and designers laugh in your face, decide you don't need a stage manager or set designer, start the production, realize you should have hired a stage manager and a set designer, fall apart emotionally but put on a brave face, realize you need someone to answer the question "What is Marketing?", fight through all the adversity to make it to opening night, watch the critics judge your show that you know is full of holes, get tepid to warm reviews, notice the cast and crew having a good time while you stare at the parking lot begging God for walk-ups while drinking Milk of Magnesia, close the show and strike 90 percent of the set yourself, start planning the next production, and so on and so forth. It's a snap! If all of that sounds way too easy for you, I suggest that you date someone in one of these insular companies until you get insularated, too. Also, there's nothing wrong with Neil Simon.—YOURS, ARMIN

►Dear Armin: I'm an ethnic actor who doesn't sound or look ethnic at all. How do I get more work? Sincerely, Jeeves Gonzalez

Jeeves? Really? Anyway, I think it's very important for you to enhance your ethnicity and adhere as closely as possible to cultural stereotypes. First, change your name. Jeeves is a name for an English butler. Have you ever seen a Hispanic English butler? I didn't think so. People aren't writing parts for Hispanic butlers. So, from now on you will be Alejandro. You can keep Gonzalez, I suppose. Next, you need to grow a mustache. If you can't grow a good one then buy one. I know a guy who deals some primo fake mustaches, but it'll cost you. I can hook you up. I'll have to introduce you to him in person. He doesn't take new customers, unless they're referred by someone he knows would never work with the cops. Third, watch The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven over and over until you can mimic Eli Wallach's Jewish/Mexican dialect. Once you've mastered the dialect, you'll need to dress the part. I suggest wearing a poncho, a sombrero and an eye patch. Follow those few simple steps and you'll be booking Telenovelas in no time. Trust me.—YOURS, ARMIN
We invite you to Ask Armin via email at 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.
 Thanks For Reading

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Sing Out, Luis!
Armin answers questions about stage mothers, ethnicity and starting a theater company.
by Armin Zaphiratous

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