Cat Got Your Tongue?

No, really? Armin on felines, stage jitters and pipedreams.

published Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Armin,

I’m directing a play that requires a live cat onstage. One that behaves. Those things are much harder to work with than dogs. Suggestions?

Dear Cat-Wrangler,

Oh, lord. Cats. Why did it have to be cats? I've worked with two cats. One, a grey short hair named Merlin was the stinkiest cat―scratch that―the stinkiest ANYTHING on earth. Merlin's gas would have made a dead skunk retch. Merlin was naturally well-behaved but I had a long monologue where I was carrying Merlin around, ostensibly having a “telepathic conversation” with him whilst he was silently farting away and I was silently choking down my sick. So, Merlin was technically a good cat but he had a terrible, monstrous diet.

Then there was Jack the Ripper, a Maine Coon that ripped out the eyeball of the little girl playing my daughter in Meet Me In St. Louis during a student matinee. I can still hear the children screaming when I close my eyes. So, you're in deep doo-doo. You do have two options. One, drug the bejesus out of the cat. Two, get a professionally trained showbiz cat. The drugs are great because they're cheap and the leftovers pair nicely with red wine. The downside is that the cat is a ragdoll and may die. Trained cats can actually perform tasks on command, but you'll have to pay them more than any of the actors. ― YOURS, ARMIN


Dear Armin,

I have a crush on a certain theater expert who’s probably 40 years my senior. He does have that sexy beard and the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” vibe. Oh, and he’s married. Should I pursue? ― Amy R.

Dear Amy R.,

I don't think you're ready for this jelly. ― YOURS, ARMIN


Dear Armin,

What’s the best cure for opening night jitters? I’m fine throughout the run of a show, but inevitably, opening nights make me want to spew. Shouldn’t they be fun?

Dear Jittery,

I'm going to give you the same advice I gave all my students with this same malady: Calm down, you wienie. It's just a play. Just know that right now there's someone in the Congo being skinned alive and you're freaking out over a play. I won Professor of the Year six times. ― YOURS, ARMIN


Ask Armin something, via Go on and ask. When he doesn't have enough queries to ponder, he bothers the hell out of the TheaterJones editor. Also, TJ doesn'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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Cat Got Your Tongue?
No, really? Armin on felines, stage jitters and pipedreams.
by Armin Zaphiratous

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