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All the Cubicle’s a Stage

Every New Yorker seems to think his or her life is a movie; the Actors Institute helps its corporate-world clients learn to play their roles better.

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The Actors Institute alumni include Ted Danson and Sigourney Weaver, but lately TAI has taken to working mostly with office types who feel they need some help with on-the-job motivation. “Principles of theater fit any situation,” explains TAI co-director Gifford Booth, a former puppeteer, at a recent Saturday-morning session before ordering the off-duty suits to perform “an extended bark now!” Then they do their prepared monologues. Herewith, the parts they’re playing in their minds:


Valerie Basile, 29
Publicist and event planner, Yves Saint Laurent beauty division
Piece: Rosie O’Donnell monologue from the movie Beautiful Girls assessing female beauty ideals.
What movie do you see yourself in?When Harry Met Sally—the scene when she’s ordering—that’s me. I totally identify with her. Not all her crazy neurotic tendencies, but the whole ‘I want it this way, and I want it inside,’ is totally me.”


Tony Arpante, 39
Software trainer, CheckFree Investment Services
Piece: Monologue from the play Night Maneuver by Howard Korder.
What movie do you see yourself in? “You’ve seen Falling Down with Michael Douglas? I don’t want to be him—he’s troubled—but he wants a thing, and these obstacles keep appearing, and they’re people-related. I was looking for a job for a year—living in a city like this, there’s a lot of obstacles.”


Carina von Knoop, 37
Former partner, Boston Consulting Group
Piece: Presentation for a beauty-industry job where she discusses high/low consumer choices. (“That’s who I am: a soccer mom but also the professional and the glamour diva, all in one.”)
What movie do you see yourself in? Erin Brockovich, which I loved. She’s powerful, she’s sexy, but she’s no-bullshit, and I loved that.”

Mark Basile, 29
Corporate investment banker, Citigroup
Piece: 1962 John F. Kennedy presidential address on the importance of space travel.
What movie do you see yourself in? “It’s actually a TV show, The West Wing. Sam Seaborn left business because he became disenchanted, and he found somebody worth following, Jed Bartlet. I want to follow the right person.”


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