Armin Zaphiratous

Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me

Armin on how to slim down for a role, and the difference between theater and performance art.

published Friday, August 20, 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 dieting and performance art.
►Dear Armin:  I've been cast in a role and the director wants me to lose 20 pounds in the next month. What's the best way to go about slimming down for the role?
Dear Valerie Bertinelli,
Twenty pounds in a month, eh? I guess that's possible. Of course, I've been blessed with the metabolism of an 18-year-old Olympic swimmer, so I don't have a lot of experience with weight fluctuation. I can eat like a horse and still keep my Situation. In fact, I tried my hand at competitive hot dog eating in the '80s. Unfortunately, my gag reflex was too strong to swallow those hot dogs, and it also secured my location on the Kinsey Scale.
I understand the most common weight loss program in Texas is the Crystal Meth diet, but I wouldn't recommend it. I always say, "Don't do drugs that were made in some yokel's bathtub, but the rest of them can be pretty cool in moderation." I'm sorry, but I think you're going to have to work out and eat right. Sounds impossible, right? If you need more motivation, convince the director to add some partial nudity for your character, and I guarantee you will live at the gym.—YOURS, ARMIN
Dear Armin: What's the difference between theater and performance art? — Confused in Coppell
Dear Confused,
Good question. Theater focuses almost exclusively on live performers creating a self-contained drama for an audience. Performance art is a little more prickly. The answers can be found on my comedy album, "You Just Might Be Doing Performance Art!" Here are a few examples:
  • If you're wearing a jump suit and playing the tuba even though you have no idea how to play the tuba, you're doing performance art.
  • If you can only perform your show while high, you just might be doing perfrmance art.
  • If your friends don't even make it out for pay-what-you-can, you're in a performance art piece.
  • If you are the director and you've got no idea what's happening, you're directing some performance art.
  • If you wake up and realize you're frying an emu egg in front of five people, you might be doing something like performance art.
  • If you're happy to piss off the bourgeois morons calling themselves your "audience," you're really performance-arting it up.
  • If you hate it when people say they liked your show, you just might possibly be doing some performance art. 
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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Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me
Armin on how to slim down for a role, and the difference between theater and performance art.
by Armin Zaphiratous

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