The Crucible Stage Door, Take Two

In light of all the discussion of the Stage Door in wake of Saturday Sept 13th’s mobbing of Richard Armitage, I almost cringe to admit that on two occasions I found myself back outside the Stage Door, a member of the early queues that formed before those attending the evening performance were dismissed. This happened in spite of my own mild frustration, earlier in the summer, with the stage door repeaters. Please, don’t take offense, all of you repeaters out there. I am one of you! I totally get it. But back in July, I was privately of the opinion that to turn up repeatedly at the Stage Door was unfair both to Armitage, whose time was completely voluntary and who began to look increasingly weary in SD photos, and to those of us who had tickets later in the run, as I was convinced RA would at some point decide, out of exhaustion, that he was just no longer up to it.

As the weeks progressed, and Richard continued to appear, albeit ever more speedily, I stopped worrying for my own selfish desires, although I continued to have low level anxiety on his behalf. (I know, RA knows what he’s doing, and doesn’t need me monitoring him for weary half-smiles and puffy eyelids!) At any rate, I obviously don’t stick to my own convictions when presented with temptation, because for each performance I went to, there was a Stage Door experience to accompany it, and only one of those actually happened on the same night I’d been attending The Crucible.

Monday Sept 1:
It was about 10:30pm, after a lovely day out at Kew Gardens, a brief rest at the hotel, and a leisurely dinner in the near vicinity of The Old Vic. On our way back to the hotel, we “happened” passed the theatre, where the play was in progress. (That’s total B.S… I planned it and timed it, just didn’t mention it to Mom!) By this point, I’d seen two evening performances, but never had bought any of the posters, which made a convenient excuse. I went inside and purchased a bare shoulder poster, and here it should be noted that I missed my opportunity to purchase the poster I really liked the most, which features eyelashes that rival any I’ve ever seen, because it was available that night. However, I only had enough cash on me for one, and as I was already pretty sure I was going to head right for the Stage Door, and had nothing for RA to sign with me, I selected the poster I thought would best show an autograph.

Then, while Mom expressed laughing disbelief, I had to step down the street and say hi to the couple of ladies already at the stage door, didn’t I? The four of us were in the front of the line- Irache, a young nurse from Spain, then Mom and me, then Joan, an expectant grandma from California. Irache and Joan were both just lovely. We had about a half hour to chat and plan our moves. Irache said she was not a professional photographer, but she sure had an intimidatingly large camera, while Joan and I just had our smartphones. I believe all of us had been to the Stage Door at least once, and we knew we’d need to be fast in order for the three admirers among us to have photos with Richard, and Irache and I also hoped for an autograph. Irache was quite impressively organized, having pre-set and tested her camera, and she’d also brought along hard writing surfaces for autographs; in contrast, Joan and I just sort of showed up. Lol. Our little group coordinated a battle plan down to the last detail, literally choreographing each move! CRAzy, I know. But it paid off. I held Irache’s camera, Mom held my cell phone, Joan held my poster, and Irache held Joan’s cell phone. I am happy to report that the plan went off without any hitches, and each of our respective photos turned out pretty well.

This was the evening before the Conversation, but I was later to learn that Richard Armitage admitted the Stage Door was a somewhat surreal experience for him, as he was still shedding John Proctor. That Monday night, we were the first faces he saw. When he came out, he did look slightly vague, more so than on Saturday, when I encountered him much further along in the queue. The door opened, Ola emerged, and then there was Richard, with a muted smile and pretty blank expression, like he was friendly and ready to start, but almost didn’t know what to say. We stared at him, and since I hadn’t been at the performance, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t think to thank him or compliment him. *Kicks self, for the thousandth time!*

I believe there were a few seconds of silence while he waited for one of us to say something, but everyone was just silent! Struck dumb by his loveliness, I suppose. I absolutely cringe to think it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if all our mouths were hanging open. Heaven above, I hope not! Now this is from Mom, who keeps a cool head around Richard, but she says he started with “Ah, hello.” At which point, Irache started forward with her items to be signed. Anyway, in retrospect, right there at the start of the Stage Door queue, when he was more or less 10 min out of John Proctor, he did indeed seem a little disconnected, but it really was not at all in an unfriendly way.

IMAG0789

Don’t let the light bulb fool you.

Mom snapped a photo of Richard signing Irache’s materials, I snapped a posed photo of him with Irache, and then it was my turn with him. He was in the green t-shirt and grey jacket and jeans combo. Sorry to say I forgot to look at his footwear, and once again I lost my wits and have no idea what I said or what he said, except that it was cordial! Mom was concentrating on not messing up with my cell phone camera, so she wasn’t paying attention. Richard very graciously leaned in for a photo, which I later posted to twitter, and this time he had his hands clasped politely behind his back. The photo is decent, for a cell phone, but there is an unfortunate light bulb on my head, as if I’ve just had a very bright idea, when in fact I had no coherent thoughts at all, or I might have indicated somehow to Richard how moved I had been, how sublime his performances were, that I hoped he’d narrate another audiobook… just anything intelligent at all. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me, I don’t recall what was said.

I really hope it wasn’t “Squeee!”

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11 comments

  1. guylty · September 16, 2014

    LOL – oh, I love this account. First of all your honesty in it, and then your disarming self-irony. Also, I find quite interesting how you describe his entry onto the impromptu stage of the SD. Out of it? Certainly completely exhausted, judging by the look of him in the picture. I am beginning to feel mildly guilty for having contributed to further exhaustion by being a SD attendant, too… (Nah, only mildly. I am 100% convinced that the only pressure was his own. Big boy.)
    Anyhow, I though this was really interesting because I only ever joined the queue once it had reached the middle of the space between door and corner. And I had been wondering what I was missing at the top of the queue 🙂

    Like

    • Servetus · September 16, 2014

      He really was capable of stopping any time he wanted. On some evenings he stopped in mid-line 🙂

      Like

      • guylty · September 16, 2014

        Never when I was there. Must have been my good influence on the mild behaviour of the crowd 😉

        Like

    • jholland · September 16, 2014

      It was actually pretty fun being first in line, because we had that immediate first view of him and those priceless moments of “dumbstruck staring” to always treasure. On the other hand, we didn’t have time to “acclimate” to his presence and prepare. That does sound stupid (I mean, 30 minutes of planning did occur, which one might argue was preparation enough) but all I know is I felt like a deer in the headlights when he stepped out that door. lol

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      • guylty · September 17, 2014

        LOL deer in headlights. I wonder what that must be like for him – continually walking into deers 😉 Does he feel like the queen as in – every room she ever walks into, smells of fresh paint?

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        • jholland · September 17, 2014

          Hopefully everyone isn’t as foolish as I fear myself to have been! I can’t imagine what he or any other famous person feels when encountering starstruck admirers. As he appears to be a basically down-to-earth guy, one can only imagine it’s a bit surreal in and of itself. Then throw in the immediacy of John Proctor still in his head, and I’m sure it’s weird as hell for him! lol

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  2. Servetus · September 16, 2014

    FWIW — I think by this time in the run, this was how you had to behave if getting a picture was what you had your heart set on. You had to practice with the camera, know what you wanted, pull up your pants and put on your assertive self, and do it. Given the necessary level of concentration to do all that to execute fully and satisfactorily in a timeframe of ca. 30 seconds, it’s no wonder that you (and other people who did this) don’t remember what you said, or he said, or remember that you weren’t thinking about complimenting him, and so didn’t. I found that on nights when I was trying to get something, I had only fragmentary memories of how he looked (glimpses) and couldn’t have told you even what he was wearing. I did rehearse in my mind what I wanted to say and remembered the compliment at least, but I couldn’t have gone beyond that. Very hard to spontaneously friendly in that high stakes situation.

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    • guylty · September 16, 2014

      Completely congruent with my experience. The one time I really enjoyed the SD and have proper recollections was the second time. Where I had no requests of my own.

      Like

      • Servetus · September 16, 2014

        I saw it happen twice (Friday and Saturday), which I attributed to the length of the line and some pre-arranged deadline he’d made with his sidekicks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Servetus · September 16, 2014

        This was supposed to go above.

        Like

    • jholland · September 16, 2014

      Yes, we ran through it several times and it was pretty comical how once RA broke the ice, we just flew into our routine. “Pull up your pants and put on your assertive self” – ROFL! That’s about right. I can easily see how so many ladies were given the affirmative on the photo op but not the photo. He maneuvers incredibly fast when he kicks it into gear, and I would say that 30 seconds is about right for how long it took to do 3 photos with him that night.

      Liked by 1 person

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