Richard Armitage Distraction Muted, But Devastating


Richard Armitage selfie, December 1 2014. From @RCArmitage on Twitter.

That new selfie! I will say that although it doesn’t have the same sizzling effect on me as the selfie he tweeted from the set of Sleepwalker, I really love this image. It’s the warmth and kindness in his eyes. The laugh lines. The dimple. He looks more loveable than smokin’ hot, but maybe I needed that from him yesterday.

I can’t say that I didn’t follow events from yesterday at all, but I do find it odd that I followed the premiere of Into the Storm so much more closely than the World Premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I have a ton of catching up to do. Like Servetus, I think I will hold off on reading Hobbity reviews prior to my date night with Hubby.

While I eagerly read reviews prior to The Crucible, and would do so again in the event that RA stars in another play, I did feel that the reviews of ITS informed my preconceptions of the movie, which hampered my enjoyment slightly. However, as far as Hobbity interviews and press junkets from the premiere… I have hardly watched any of it. My experience from yesterday was almost entirely comprised of checking out Richard’s outfit (Nice!) and looking at a few pictures on Twitter.

Why was I so apathetic? I still feel an abiding love for Richard Armitage. That’s definite. I still adore his work, his kind, humble, generous attitude, his handsome face, his backside. (Guylty, thank you for this image. You deserve a special award of some kind from the fandom. LOL) Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of Middle Earth, long before RA was even on my radar. So you’d think I’d have been all over the coverage of the World Premiere. But I wasn’t.

Maybe it’s just that life is always incredibly busy for me during the weeks following Thanksgiving. I have Christmas shopping and gift planning on my mind. I have quilting on my mind.


A few of my 2013 creations. Most are One Block Wonders. Maybe one of these days I’ll do a post to explain what that means. =)

In 2013, I learned how to quilt, and threw everything into it, as is my usual habit. The more you get to know me, the more you will probably appreciate that I seldom do anything by half-measures. Anyway, I made more than 10 quilts (yes, I’ve lost track of how many I did) and gifted many of them to family members. Those who didn’t get a quilt last year may have expectations this year, which is unfortunate because in 2014, I threw everything into my Richard Armitage Affliction, instead. I had completed 2 quilts and started 2 more quilts prior to the onset of my Preoccupation in April, and suddenly with Christmas looming, I realized I’d better get cracking!


Why yes, Richard Armitage, I did. Thanks in No Small Part to You.

Unfortunately, Hubby and I made a Colossal Error on one of these quilts-in-progress over the weekend. (He is a whiz with the rotary cutter. When I need cutting, he’s my man. However, with the quilt pattern a distant memory, clouded with Armitage Affliction, I directed poor Hubby to cut a set of triangles, from irreplaceable fabric, the Wrong Fricking Size. Expletive!!!!!!) We ultimately had to then re-vamp the entire design, looking at this as “an opportunity for creativity” rather than a humdinger of idiotic proportions. Hence, the title of this post. My Preoccupation with Armitage is ultimately to blame for the devastating quilting dilemma I now face. (Don’t worry, Richard. I still adore you.)


Richard Armitage and Yael Farber together again? This is a reason to Vacation Plan. Immediately.

I’ve also been moody about The Crucible again. I miss John Proctor and I’m jealous of the cinema-goers. Enough said. However, one bit of exciting news was that Richard Armitage revealed in a Guardian article today that “I’m definitely going to work with Yaël again – I don’t know how soon that’s going to be. But we are planning another production. We want to really expand and explore something we touched on in The Crucible. But I can’t say anything just yet…” So, another collaboration from this Dream Team is in the works! That says a lot about the mutual respect between Farber and Armitage, and is just the ticket to cheer me up! I am thinking of setting up a savings account specifically for this eventuality, and depositing a monthly amount toward it. Naturally, my hope would be that I was saving for a trip to Broadway, but I wouldn’t exactly hate the prospect of London again. Not that those are the only two options, but they seem more likely. I love having advance notice! I simultaneously want it to be as soon as feasibly possible, and distant enough to allow me to save enough that it wouldn’t stretch the finances, or Hubby’s goodwill, too soon. =)

Limerick: Richard’s Beard

beard1Because it’s amusing, this limerick is geared
To discuss, in detail, Richard Armitage’s Beard.
It’s a point of contention
And so often mentioned
That to compose nothing in its honor would be weird!




beard2A beard is, of course, a matter of taste…
Some women love it, others back away in haste.
When I was younger
I had no beard-hunger
Then I met Hubby, and found my preference replaced.





beard3Certainly a beard can hide certain defects…
A weak chin, poor jaw line, or a wart that projects!
Some men, no doubt
Allow a beard to sprout
Because facial hair is such a manly effect.



beard4Well, we know that Armitage has nothing to hide…
He can show off his chin and his jaw line with pride!
His chiseled lips
Need no manips
As countless admirers will gladly testify.


beard5And yet, not every man can wear a beard well…
Sometimes it’s sparse, and that looks like hell!
For a beard to attract
It must in fact
Be full enough not to repel.




beard6An illustration of this, I’m sorry to say
Was the look that we saw when he portrayed Monet.
I thought that wisp
Was a fashion miss
And the chatter must have ruined Richard’s day.


beard7That being said, it’s also a fact
That excessively bushy does not attract!
A beard should be shaped
Not to look like an ape
Too much can also detract.




beard8For me, Thorin’s beard does not cross that line…

Though some of the dwarves are too bushy to be fine!
Thorin’s beard is quite full
But it doesn’t read as wool
So most agree when his hotness is opined.


beard9Richard is blessed with the ability to grow
A beard in a hurry, as many photos show.
I have to admit
That along with his lips
I love the soul patch that sits just below.



beard10When Richard expressed the desire to disguise
Proctor’s “weirdbeird” I was surprised
I personally thought
That facial thatch was hot…
And to cover-up with bacon was unwise!




beard11I knew the suggestions that Richard desired
Were a funny diversion, but it was not required!
Proctor’s beard was a work of art
For a Puritan man, he looked stylish and smart!
(Though I eagerly await the photo shoot that transpired.)


beard12We haven’t seen much of Dr. Scott White…
Though the selfie from Sleepwalker was quite a sight!
I’m pretty certain
That when they lift the curtain
My desires for the good doctor will ignite!




beard13It’s always fun to see what is next…
Will the beard stay or go- the fandom’s obsessed!
When Sleepwalker wrapped
Many admirers clapped
For it appeared that the beard had regressed.


beard14Then came a new selfie that seemed to imply:
The beard would be back… the question is why!
Does he just like to tease?
Does wearing a beard now please?
Or does he have a bearded role on standby?




beard15Since I have composed this ode to RA’s facial hair…
One might conclude that I really care!
But that isn’t true
I like him clean-shaven too
In fact, every look he sports causes me to stare!


glove beardI contributed to #OneBeardToBringThemAll myself…
@RichardsBeard was on Twitter longer than Richard himself!
Objectively the topic
Is borderline neurotic
But it seems our Beard Speculations are impossible to shelf.


Limerick: Armitage Eyes

0dc986e815da37aa2ed332d75b37142bSeated at my desk with a tall stack of charts…
I can’t face catching up, I don’t have the heart.
I know the day this stack began:
The blame belongs to a particular man!
It was October 9 when my chart count did start.



B0GAZPxCYAEWKPiRichard Armitage on Twitter distracts every time…
But on that particular day, his tweet was sublime.
He planned a surprise
A selfie, with eyes
So distRActing, it was actually a crime!





IMG_303485126580042Yes, I need to catch up, I’m a month behind…
But I find that Armitage is always on my mind.
Preoccupied each day
I can’t look away
If I weren’t my own boss, a pink slip I’d find!




1163f321756786328c6c224f3bc86f4dBut really, Richard Armitage, I can’t help myself…
Your ears just remind me of the sexiest elf
Then there’s your mouth
And everything south
I can’t choose your best feature from such wealth!





EyesThat being said, if I had no choice but to choose…
I’d have to decide on those baby blues.
Even before I fell
Into this preoccupied spell
Richard’s eyes had me truly enthused.





imagesDE55D5IMThat was way back, when Thorin walked through the door…
He arrived at Bag End ready to settle an old score.
I was at the local theatre
With my eyes on the leader
And a whole new outlook on the dwarves of Tolkien lore!


Richard Armitage London StudiosI suppose it’s as well that I didn’t pursue…
At the time I couldn’t afford to bid normalcy adieu!
It would be over 2 years
Before I kicked into gear
John Thornton made me join the queue.





thorntoneyes1I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…
He had me at “Stephens”- it still makes me grin!
But as a first time beholder
Yet to see John’s eyes smolder
I’d no idea the trouble I was in!




sadeyes1Such expressions those eyes at different moments convey…
Be it outrage, arrogance, or wistful dismay.
As my viewing progressed
I couldn’t help but be impressed
At the volumes Those Eyes Alone can say!



glamorguySometimes what kills me is that “Come Hither” look…
Gisborne’s eyes only, no finger need be crooked!
I’d be a goner
If he’d do me the honor
It’s no mystery why I’ve become hooked!




proctor2When I saw him live in London at The Old Vic…
The fire in John’s eyes caused my heart to kick.
The intensity of his stare
Had my heart snared
In a way that can’t be explained in a pic.





IMG_0739reMy new friend Irache, from The Crucible Stage Door
Managed to get a shot that I love all the more.
It’s nothing but eyes
But it’s a hell of a prize
When we first saw it, we practically yelled “Score!”



Thorin2As if all of this wasn’t sufficient to distract…
A heartbreak is coming, that’s just a fact.
We’ll all follow Thorin one last time
Profoundly painful, and yet sublime
Grappling with these images that both sadden, and attract.




esquire1So back to the charts… I’m afraid they must wait…
Until my equilibrium returns to steady state.
Armitage Eyes have struck again
I’m beginning to wonder if or when
Their hold on me will begin to abate.

Bummed About The Crucible


I know that there was once a time when it looked like we’d have no opportunity to re watch The Crucible, or see it at all, as the case may be, and believe me, I’m very grateful that is no longer the case. I’d certainly be far more bummed if there was no digital recording, or even if the option to download was unavailable in the U.S. but the theatre screenings were a go. I do love and appreciate the fact that I will be able to watch, re watch and study this marvelous piece of theatre from every angle, repeatedly.

That being said, I was really looking forward to the big screen version, and would have travelled if necessary to see it. In the case that it was available locally, I wanted to invite Hubby, family and friends, and encourage the far-flung loved ones to see it in their local theatres as well. I’m confident enough in it, after seeing its effect on Mom, who is not suffering Armitage Affliction, to be able to recommend it far and wide. Now, although it will be available to download, and I’m sure that technology savvy theatre aficionados and Armitage admirers will avail themselves of the opportunity, I don’t know that some of the people I’d hoped to lure out to the theatre will bother.

I’m also sad because I was looking forward to not only the advantage of the large screen, but the sound system available at the movie theatres. I’d be willing to bet that the haunting music, so important in the atmosphere experienced at The Old Vic, won’t translate nearly as well on my dinky computer speakers as it would in the theatres.

It’s really a shame that whoever holds the rights to screen the play in theatres in North America can’t be negotiated with. It would be one thing if it was a lackluster production, but it was so critically acclaimed, so beautifully done, and I felt, so true to Arthur Miller’s script, that I just can’t imagine why whoever it is putting up the roadblock wouldn’t be jumping at the chance to share it! It’s a masterpiece, and Yael Farber et al. have brought it to life in such a way that it’s almost a new facet of my identity! Anyway, I’ve been down about this, even knowing that eventually, I will get the chance to experience that awe, that foreboding and devastation again, with Hubby if nobody else.


Proctor rips the warrant. Or the copyright notice, in my wishful thinking…

OK. Whinging over. I hope they will reconsider. If anyone knows of a petition, let me know!

Dream: (Halloween Special) Cult of the Armitage-Automata

I had quite the creepy dream, more of a nightmare, really… and thought it was actually rather fitting to share on Halloween.


What signifies a poppet?

* * *


Benedict Cumberbatch wax figure, Madame Tussauds, London (Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

I’m in London, visiting Benedict Cumberbatch. Not the actual Benedict Cumberbatch, you understand, but the wax version that was recently unveiled at Madame Tussauds. I’m in the middle a whole lot of CumberCollective members, and (though I don’t really affiliate myself as a Cumberbabe, or Cumberbitch, or whatever they are calling themselves these days) their enthusiasm is rather infectious. I’m right there in the throng, looking and acting suspiciously like a Cumberbitch, busy trying to get a selfie with Benedict. I can’t seem to get it right. (What was it Guylty said? Chin out, tilt head… I don’t have the art of the selfie down at all!) After some dreadful results on my first several attempts, I decide to move to a less crowded area to practice my selfie. Once I have the knack of it, I will re-enter the fray and try for a better one with Benedict.

I move down a corridor, looking for a private area where I can practice with my cell phone. I see a door marked “Private” and that is exactly what I’ve been looking for. (Part of me knows I’m not authorized to go in there, but my dream self is apparently willing to break the rules in the name of Benedict Cumberbatch.) I knock hesitantly on the door, and there is no response, so I try the door knob, and find it unlocked. I slip into the darkened room, and feel for a light switch, but there is none. This appears to be a storage area, but there is a dimly lit doorway across the room that appears to have a light source.

I enter the connecting room, which is dimly lit with small lights along the floorboards, but I am able to make out that there are tall wax figures (perfect for practicing!) in here. I find an overhead light switch, flip it on, and what I see here takes my breath. My heart begins to thud, because I’ve just stumbled onto something that as far as I know, is a Real Scoop for my true fandom, the Richard Armitage fandom. We’ve all been wondering if Richard Armitage would ever have his day at Madame Tussauds… and it appears that he secretly has!


John Proctor, upright and scowling. (Johan Persson)

Five life-sized wax figures are arranged
in various poses around the room…

John Proctor is standing in the center,
scowling fiercely.





John Thorton, top hat on his head.

John Thornton, wearing his top hat,
stands gazing pensively, as if waiting,
with one hand behind his back,
and a small stack of books in the other.






Guy of Gisborne, looking up with a smirk.

Guy of Gisborne leans casually
against a post, arms crossed,
with a slight smirk.





Lucas North, armed and dangerous.

Lucas North has a weapon in one hand,
and the other hand touching his ear,
as if listening to an ear mic.




Harry Kennedy, carefree.

Harry Kennedy is dressed for a
walk in the countryside,
and looks casually relaxed and cheerful.



I am absolutely amazed at my perfect, blind luck! I immediately begin taking pictures from all angles of these gorgeous works of wax. I’ve completely forgotten about practicing selfies, and it doesn’t occur to me to attempt to do selfies with these Richard Armitage characters. They’re too beautiful… I’m thinking to myself that either the management at Madame Tussauds, or one of the wax artists, must be a huge fan of Richard’s work, and am greatly puzzled about why these amazing pieces are not on display in the museum. Is it a work in progress, with more characters to be added? Certainly Thorin ought to have a place, I muse, and John Porter. Even sweetie John Standring, heroic dad Gary WhatsHisName, or Lee in his speedo, would be admirable additions!

I’m so caught up studying these figures in minute detail that I lose track of time. I’m done taking shots of the overall figures, and have moved on to close-ups of elegant hands, chiseled lips, elfish ears and expressive blue eyes. I’m in the middle of a particularly compelling close up of John Thornton’s hand, when the overhead light goes off. A clock chimes somewhere out in the main area of the museum, and I realize it’s midnight! Suddenly aware that I must have missed the closing time, I start to move toward the door, when I hear a distinct click of a lock, and retreating footsteps. Security guard? I move out into the room that I first entered, try the door, and find myself locked in the room! I’m about to call out, when I hear a noise behind me, and all the hairs on my arms stand up.

As far as I knew, I was alone in these rooms. So who was that?

I slowly turn around, and though the lighting is very dim, I see that the wax figure of John Proctor is now seated, with his face in one hand, much like he sat in the opening of The Crucible. He’s not moving; he’s still as wax. Nevertheless, chills run up and down my spine. I could have sworn he was standing a moment ago! My heart is now racing and I am feeling true fear. It’s clear to me that I’ve left a pleasant fantasy world, and entered a horror story instead. I hear another small noise, creep nearer, and see that Gisborne is now looking down, studying a drawn knife. There is now an expression of deadly ferocity on his face. He’s not moving, either, but I know (that I know that I know!) he didn’t have a knife a few minutes ago. He was smirking! His arms were crossed! I have the pictures to prove it!

I slowly and silently sink down to the floor, pressing my cheek against the wall; I am filled with dread and awe… my limbs feel hollow, my lips feel numb. I Must Not Turn My Back On Them. I peek around the door frame again, and now Thornton has moved! He’s taken his hat off with his free hand, and is now looking expectantly up, as if he’s on Margaret’s doorstep. I don’t even want to know what Lucas is up to- if he even is Lucas– what if that’s actually his alter ego John Bateman? That one had a freaking gun last I knew!

As the minutes tick by, I am frozen on the floor, having no idea what kind of alternate reality I’ve fallen into. I hear an occasional scuffing sound, but mostly there is nothing but silence, and the sound of my own heartbeat pounding in my ears. My mind is racing with possibilities, and at some point, I begin to ponder which of these wax figures I could trust the most, in the event that Lucas or Guy, with their weapons, should discover me! I instinctively believe that Harry is probably harmless, but I’m not certain whether the accountant is up to defending me against a warrior like Guy, or a trained operative like Lucas. I know Thornton is good at fisticuffs, but when I last dared to look, he seemed distracted, like his thoughts are on Margaret, so I think I’m going to have to rely on John Proctor. I’m not planning to appeal to Proctor unless I’m in dire need, but I feel better having a plan.

As I sit petrified, hardly daring to breathe, wondering what the hell is going on, I naturally start to second-guess myself. For all I know, these animated wax figures are nothing like the characters they portray. Harry Kennedy could be a smiling psychopath. John Proctor could be the Devil’s familiar! I keep hearing small movements in the dimly lit room, but I no longer have the courage to try to see what the wax figures are up to.

After an interminable period of waiting and wondering, I begin to hear footsteps in the corridor. They draw nearer, but I don’t know if I can, or indeed should, say anything. I don’t know if that’s even a human! For all I know, that could be the wax figure of Adolf Hitler marching around out there! I decide to stay silent.

To my escalating horror, I hear the footsteps stop outside in the corridor. There is a key in the lock, and the door opens. Two women come in, and they are cloaked mysteriously. Whispering to each other, they move past me without ever looking down, and enter the room with the Richard Armitage characters. I hear one of the women whisper that Harry looks to be in the easiest position to carry, and soon they emerge, with soft grunts and staggering slightly, carrying Harry Kennedy horizontally, one at the shoulder level and one at the knee level. Harry’s face is toward me, and I am incredibly creeped out when his eyes lock with mine and stay focused on me as he is carried past. Harry is no longer smiling.

I abruptly decide to try to sneak out in the wake of the two women, judging that they may be distracted enough not to hear me, as they are themselves making a moderate amount of noise as they carry the tall figure of Harry Kennedy through the room. Slipping in behind them, I reach the door to the corridor, and just as I am making my escape, I see an extra cloak hanging from a coat rack just inside the storage room. I snatch the cloak and don it, pulling the hood up just in time. The women shuffle to a stop, so they may shut the door behind them, and they see me. I freeze, but they can’t see my face, and although they mutter in surprise, they assume I am one of them. The woman closest to me asks me to close the door and lock it. I close the door, and fake like I have a key and am locking it.

At this point, I have no choice but to follow along. The women are beginning to huff and puff with the effort of carrying such a large burden. After a short distance, the woman at Harry’s knees orders a stop, and she grunts that she will move to the waist if I can get the knees. I comply, now helping to lighten the load. I am stunned when I realize that Harry’s knees are warm. They flex a little, and I murmur that he’s trying to bend his legs, and the woman in front says, quietly but authoritatively, “None of that, Harry! No funny business!”

We make our way through what seems like endless corridors and then finally to a long stairwell, which we descend. I don’t care to imagine what new terrors might lurk down in the… basement? Dungeon? When we reach the bottom of the stairwell, I see there are dozens of cloaked and hooded women, standing in a circle in what appears to be some sort of cavernous grotto. Above us is a candle chandelier. All of the figures except me have yellow roses pinned to their cloaks. I realize this is some sort of Armitage faction, as the yellow roses are a symbol in North and South. Then I see the poppets. Many of the women are cradling creepy little poppets… poppets of cloth, with needles glinting in the candlelight, that look straight out of The Crucible.

What signifies these poppets?

We set Harry on his feet in the center of the circle, and he crouches there, knees slightly bent. I am Really Not Feeling Comfortable with whatever is going on here. I seem to be taking my cues from Harry, who has a posture of intimidation, hunched shoulders, hands fisted, and a hunted expression. He stands perfectly still. The women begin to chant.

The clock chimes one time, indicating that an hour has passed since all the weirdness began. I start to back toward the stairwell, and this draws the attention of a tall woman who appears to be leading the chant. She suddenly points a pale finger at me, and asks me where is my “Automata Rose”… I don’t know what an Automata Rose is, and take another step backward. My mind races, and it hits me that “Automata” would be plural for “Automaton”, which does seem to describe these otherworldly wax figurines.

I’m frozen with indecision, when another woman suddenly drops her poppet and shrieks “Imposter!” and a third shouts “Stop it, Harry!” I glance at Harry, and see that he’s staring at me with a fierce and pleading expression, and he’s pointing to the stairs. I don’t need another cue. I spin and run straight out of the room, slamming the door behind me. In my panicked flight, I hear footsteps in pursuit behind me, but I never look back. I reach the top of the stairs and sprint faster. I take several wild turns, having no idea where I’m going, and soon I hear another set of pounding footsteps in front of me! 

I hurtle onward, finally rounding another corner and then I see the source of the footsteps I’m running toward… it’s a security guard! I am far more afraid of the cult-like women and their horrible poppets than I am of the security guard, so I run straight for him, and am very relieved when he loudly orders a halt. Because when I halt, so, too, do my pursuers. The security guard seems more irritated than dangerous, as he sternly tells me that I’m in past visitor hours and that he will have to escort me out immediately. He stops to listen, as if momentarily wondering what happened to the other footsteps, but all is silent, and I know that the women have abandoned the chase. Whatever they are doing here, I know now, is unsanctioned. 

I have escaped. And abandoned Harry to I know not what.

* * *

I really don’t know what to make of this dream! Nightmares are rare for me. Ludicrous as the dream now seems, it did in fact freak me out at the time… when I woke up, I remember having sweaty palms and feeling short of breath… consistent with an actual adrenaline release! The dream actually happened several nights ago, after I’d been to see the 2011 National Theatre production of Frankenstein at the local cinema. Perhaps that idea of animated creatures, plus some of the discussions I’ve been following recently about the nature of the Richard Armitage fandom (how well do we know it)… may have inspired it.

Paging Dr. Scott White…. can you analyze this, sir?



He Had Me at “Stephens!”

You could say I have Thornton on the brain today. It’s a welcome relief. Ever since London, I have had a massive John Proctor problem. I was so affected by The Crucible experience that until just a couple of weeks ago, I was unable to concentrate on any works of fiction, whether audiobook or written, no matter how much I wanted to. Some audible releases I’d been waiting months for came out, but I just couldn’t pay attention long enough to get into them. I had several unfinished novels on my Kindle, abandoned so I could read and re-read The Crucible, hearing each distinct character voice so clearly in my head. It wasn’t until The Armitage Authors Network came online, and Kelbel75 posted about her FanFic Gateway that I decided enough was enough, so I searched my Kindle cloud and found A Heart For Milton by Trudy Brasure, which I purchased months ago in the midst of my North and South preoccupation, but hadn’t read yet. (Does anyone else have a hopelessly long list of audiobook and digital book files in the cloud? I can’t imagine myself ever getting through my own library. Especially now that I’m so preoccupied all the time…)

So I’ve started A Heart For Milton and I’m only about 15% into the story, but I’ve been transported back to the beloved setting. I love how Trudy Brasure has captured the essence of John Thornton’s ways of speech, because my brain just fills in Richard’s gorgeous voice in every dialogue. This has really gotten me off the John Proctor fixation track, for which I am profoundly grateful. Much as I love him, I needed a break from Salem and from Proctor’s passionately hopeless heroics.


The curious lovablility of this sequence! [Screencaps borrowed from Flixchatter and from Servetus]

Yesterday, Servetus posted a pic of the moment I like to think of as “my moment”- the moment when Richard Armitage first not only came onto my radar, but overwhelmed me with his singular combination of freakishly gorgeous appearance and magnetically compelling performance… that magical moment when he roared “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” It’s a bit of an odd moment to fall in love at first sight, but that’s pretty much exactly what occurred. Funny how I’m quite sure that had I been in Margaret Hale’s shoes at the moment, I would have been shocked and repelled by the violent outburst that follows. The men in my life, thank heavens, just don’t behave that way, and no matter how well he looked… all tall, dark and cravated… I would have been leery of becoming involved with him. Nonetheless, it was this very outburst of physicality, this shouting, chasing and pummeling, that captured my fascination with the character, and by association, the actor behind the performance. The moment he threw the horrified and indignant Margaret out of the mill, I knew it would be a love story to remember.

What would be the appeal of conquering Mr. Darcy without his initial hatefully rude condescension? Likewise, Mr. Thornton without his raw and unrefined brutality would not have been as riveting without this moment. Had the 2004 BBC production followed the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, with Margaret never once entering Marlborough Mills, thereby never setting Miss Hale and Mr. Thornton at such dramatic odds, I wonder if I would have fallen quite so hard, or become quite so fascinated, with Mr. Thornton… and later Richard.

Probably. After all, I just adore smoldering, angst, betrayal, hot male brooding and sexual tension in film and in fiction, so what followed as the plot unfolded was an inevitably escalating fascination with the character and storyline. I was amazed to discover a character, in Thornton, capable of out-Darcying Mr. Darcy himself.

What was your “moment”?

Swisher Armitage, a Man for All Ages

Not long after discovering Richard Armitage, I stumbled across his lovely Bedtime Hour children’s storytelling episodes on YouTube, and soon after I had my daughter hooked, too. She’s three years old, and a proud member of the Armitage Army, CBeebies Division.

In keeping with the CBeebies script, Richard always starts off with “Hello, I’m Richard.” I’m not sure whether it’s his British accent that throws her, or just a kid thing, but she’s believed his name is “Swisher” from the get-go, and insists that we both call him by the especially sexy moniker of “Swisher Twinkle Stars”.

* * *

Several months ago, Hubby emerged from our daughter’s bedroom after reading her bedside story, completely baffled.

Hubby: “Have any idea what she means by ‘Swishers Stories’?”

I feigned confusion. “‘Swishers’?”

Hubby: “She made several requests for ‘Swishers Stories’… but I looked at every title on both kids’ shelves and I have no idea what that is. Maybe something at the grandparents’?”

Having a pretty good idea of what our child was after, and totally relating to her craving, I told Hubby that I would handle it. I entered our daughter’s bedroom with my smart phone, dialed up “Richard Armitage CBeebies Bedtime Hour” on my Youtube app, and was the instant hero. Poor Daddy, ineffectually searching the bookshelves for who knows how long. LOL!


Swisher Twinkle Stars… just look at those stars on his wall!

Daughter: “Oh! I love Swisher’s stories!” (That’s funny, I have the very same reaction!) I asked her what she loves about them, and that’s when she told me her number one reason. “I love his Twinkle Stars! Swisher has Twinkle Stars on his wall!” (OK, so I hadn’t ever noticed those. I seem to have been more focused on Swisher’s torso and arms, displayed ever-so-nicely in  tight shirts. I may have also been ogling some long muscular legs in faded jeans, and admiring his expressive hands….)

* * *


He does look a little mean.

Ever since that conversation, our daughter has refered to him as Swisher Twinkle Stars, because in her experience, “Swisher’s Stories” was just not specific enough, since Daddy couldn’t find them. The other day, however, new information rocked her world. Our desktop homescreen still features Hubby’s Crucible Poster joke, and in the past, our daughter has mentioned observations along the lines of “That man looks like my Daddy! But I think that man is meaner than Daddy.” Then the other day, for the first time, she asked who the “mean man” was.

I answered with “His name is Richard Armitage”, but she apparently heard “His name is Swisher Armitage”, because that mutinous expression of a three-year old who’s been told an ugly falsehood immediately came over her face.

“Mommy! That’s not Swisher! Swisher has Twinkle Stars and he’s NOT MEAN!”

(My bad. I guess John Proctor doesn’t float her boat quite like Swisher Twinkle Stars.)

I didn’t have the heart to correct her. So I reiterated the “Richard” part, clearly enunciating the difference between “RRRich-arddd” and “SWishh-er” … and all was right in her world again.

The Crucible, Day 3: I Lost My Way and Worried a Stranger

Wednesday September 3rd
What a day that was. Mom and I parted ways after a quick bite to eat; she attended The 39 Steps matinée, while I attended my third and final performance of The Crucible. Prior to the performance, I was fortunate to meet up with C, another forum friend from Greece. C very kindly treated me to a glass of wine in The Pit Bar, and shared details of the Conversation and Tuesday evening’s performance. We spoke on many things, including Richard Armitage (fancy that!) and his admission that the Stage Door was often surreal for him in the aftermath of Act 4. We both tended to agree that we felt a bit guilty for having done the Stage Door on more than one occasion, and I believe I may have even indicated that I would refrain from attending again. (*Cough* More on that later.)

This was to be C’s third and final viewing as well, and for both of us, the first time to attend a matinée performance. We were both interested to know whether anything was held back in a matinée, and the answer that day was categorically, NO. In fact, something extra amazing was in the air that afternoon; of the three performances I saw, this one was hands down the best. There was never a lackluster performance of The Crucible, or a performance that failed to move me profoundly, but this one… this one. It was something indefinable. I had been teary-eyed before, but that day, I was many times wiping at tears sliding down my cheeks, even early on, in Act 2. I have wondered if part of that was from my knowledge that this was the last time I would ever see John Proctor, because I definitely woke up in a state of suppressed melancholia that morning. Then C later related it was the best performance she’d seen, and that she’d experienced the same heightened emotional response. I believe the rest of the audience was on the same wavelength, if immediacy and intensity of standing ovation is any indication.

Just a few impressions, as it is almost painful to write about this performance compared to the other times. I was on the opposite side (rear stage) and once again in front row. I will never forget the first few moments, as I was on the aisle where Richard Armitage enters the stage. Several actors started filing in to my left, so I turned to look, and Richard just suddenly manifested in a spot I didn’t expect! Rather than walking down the aisle like the others, he sort of slipped out from a narrow space behind the staircase. Not sure why, but when John Proctor materialized from out of nowhere, it simply took my breath. I audibly inhaled, then felt a momentary panic that he would look at me, but he was immersed in his intensity already, and did not glance my way.

I had been concerned that the rear side of the stage would be inferior, but that was not the case. I actually felt I saw more of John Proctor’s facial expressions, and heard his vocal nuances with more perfect clarity, so it was my favorite seat. Proctor’s voice broke a bit, when he said he thinks Elizabeth is sad, again, in Act 2. Somehow their chemistry together resonated with me in a different way, and I sharply missed my husband during that domestic scene; despite the aching unhappiness in the Proctor household, there was yet a tenderness there that made me intensely homesick. Tears began.

Act 3 from my seat was incredibly creepy. The girls, as they flew about, convulsing and speaking in synchronized monotony, had me shuddering and recoiling in horror, as if Abigail might somehow grip any one of us in her strange voodooism in that moment. Then came Elizabeth’s struggle with her testimony against Abigail and John. Her internal war was written on her face and it was heart wrenching. All I could see was John’s back and neck, but Richard Armitage emotes with every muscle in his body, and his misery in those moments was palpable. Tears again.

And then Act 4. Act 4 was almost unbearable. The raw emotion between Elizabeth and John was incredible. John Proctor’s nose was dripping. His throat was choked. His tears were like incandescent droplets, catching the stage lights as they fell freely onto his lap from my perspective. My own tears were flowing. I felt like hugging myself and rocking, but I kept it together, tamped it down. The buildup and delivery of the “It Is My Name” speech was a master class in performance. I had chills, choked throat, and a veritable flood of tears. I almost have tears now, recalling. At the end, the stage goes black. This audience leapt to our feet before the lights even came back on, and the ovation was the longest yet. Adrian Schiller patted Richard’s back as they left him alone on stage at the end, which I had not seen done before, and take as an acknowledgement from the cast that they, too, felt the immense power of this particular performance.

A very good thing that there was no Stage Door after matinées, and that I didn’t find myself there later that evening. I honestly think I might have burst into tears if I encountered Richard Armitage, my heart was so full and so simultaneously broken. Would that not have been humiliating!? As it was, I found myself completely undone. I left the theatre with C, and started toward Waterloo Station, then suddenly realized I’d left my cardigan inside the theatre. I made my way back, felt the tears surge up as I entered The Crucible atmosphere again, retrieved the cardigan, then it’s all hazy. Even though our hotel was right down the street, and I well knew the layout of the neighborhood, I walked off down The Cut in a daze, rather than across it to get to Waterloo Station. It wasn’t until I was across from The Young Vic that I realized I was just wandering around, rather than hoofing it as fast as possible to catch the Tube and meet up with Mom for Book of Mormon!

I know I felt shattered, and I can only conclude that my face was showing it, because despite it being rush hour and jam-packed, a woman asked me if I was ok as we waited on the Bakerloo platform. I told her I’d be fine, I’d just seen The Crucible and was strongly affected, but she still looked concerned. I won’t even go into how bizarre and disturbing my evening was from there. Suffice it to say that Book of Mormon, in all its lewdly irreverent hilarity, was such a jarring shock after The Crucible that I did not properly enjoy it as I probably otherwise would have done. I did laugh, but I was very distant from my laughter, and it had a hallucinatory quality to it at times, as my mind was drawn again and again to ominous visions of Salem in the round. I wondered if these feelings of unreality and distance were a bit how Richard Armitage felt when he encountered the buzzing Stage Door atmosphere after being in John Proctor’s skin.

I did my best to mask my despondency in the days that followed, for Mom’s sake. I was profoundly glad that I had experienced The Crucible, and amazed to discover that I felt so in love with John Proctor. I can’t explain how or why, exactly, but he’s now my favorite Richard character. The Crucible will always stay with me, and it may well be that nothing can ever top it, theatre-wise. I think I was almost in a state of mourning because I knew that I would never again see John Proctor, that he would have to live only in my memory, and memories fade. When Friday came along, and the glad tidings reached me, it was as if someone I’d irrevocably lost was restored to me, and my spirit was mended without further ado. I am so thankful for this, because I have the distinct impression that without the promise of the Digital Theatre recording, I might be working through depression or the stages of mourning, all for a character and a play, which would in turn make me feel guilty and be very difficult to express to anyone who didn’t experience The Crucible, or who was in the same frame of mind from a real life situation.

Hat’s off to Richard Armitage for his ability to affect my whole outlook on life. I shouldn’t be surprised by that, but I am.

Lovely Evening, Haunting Performance and The Stage Door

Having spent Friday evening over at The Phantom of the Opera, immersed in beautiful music but frankly distracted and with the vague impression that the costumes and set, while excellent, were overelaborate in comparison to The Crucible, Saturday Aug. 30 now brought me home to where I really most wanted to be, mired in angst and oppression. How odd to thirst for these emotions. Also in the mix was my overwhelming anticipation to experience the Stage Door, which is somewhat of a phenomenon in itself. I knew in advance what to expect from Richard Armitage, namely speed, and I feared a bit that I might somehow make a hash of it, but nonetheless I absolutely had to be there.

Mom and I met with Sue, a fellow American Armitage admirer from the RA Central forum, at the Waterloo Bar and Kitchen, a lovely little restaurant next door to the Old Vic. The three of us really hit it off as we enjoyed glasses of wine, interesting conversation and a pre-theatre fine dining experience. At the theatre, I was in the stalls on the left side, 7th row. From this perspective I could still see facial expressions, but the problem of occasional blocked views was abolished, and I could also appreciate the overall choreography more than when I was on the front row. I loved how the different characters had different levels of choreography, from the extreme whirling gyrations and epileptic dance-like commotion of the girls, to John Proctor’s explosive circles of passionate fury, down to the contrasting simplicity of restraint and stillness that was integral to the portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor. Being a Saturday evening performance, I noticed a difference in RA’s voice compared to Thursday, even from the start. I hadn’t felt he was one bit hoarse on Thursday, but Saturday evening, his 7th performance of the week, he had a raspy quality to his voice.

This being my second time to see it, I felt I noticed more details because I knew what was coming. I saw many John Thornton-esque facial expressions and to a lesser extent stances, especially in his disdainful dealings with Reverend Parrish and Thomas Putnam, Proctor’s foes. I was reminded of Thorton’s attitude around some of the other mill owners and with workers who displeased him. I didn’t see much of Thorin, though with Thorin I am not as familiar, having only watched both Hobbit films twice. Unsurprisingly, I saw nothing whatsoever of Guy, but there was one piercing look over Proctor’s shoulder which struck me as pure Lucas North! This look was directed at Mary Warren as she first begins to disintegrate during the court hearing in Act 3; Proctor is mainly focused on presenting his affidavits to the judges, and she begins her nervous twitching on the sidelines. It was an authoritative “keep it together, girl” expression, and it looked like the type of fierce look Lucas might give a faltering asset/informant.

The transformation of John Proctor from the robust, forceful presence in Acts 1, 2 and 3 to the weakened and wavering man in Act 4 was remarkable. I think that his makeup effects were applied with a heavier hand, as well, because I didn’t remember him looking so white or so bloody and broken the first time. The moments when I came closest to actually weeping that evening were when John is seated in Act 4, with Elizabeth at his feet, as she tells him the fate of Giles Corey. Their ability to laugh while simultaneously crying as she tells him that Giles had only two words, “More. Weight.” just gripped me. It transported me to 2002, my beloved cousin’s funeral. [My cousin Brent suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy and spent his life in a wheelchair, dying at the age of 26. Despite his immense physical challenges, he was brilliantly funny, had a tremendous intellect, and was one of the most engaging and interesting people I have ever known, both as a child and as a young man.] I’ll never forget that sensation, as a church full of mourners simultaneously laughed and wept at recollections of Brent. I well remember that juxtaposition of emotions, feeling tickled with laughter, yet heavy with heartache as tears streamed down faces at the funeral. How two actors can recreate such a powerfully poignant and complex emotion before an audience is a wonder to me. So yes, I once again thought The Crucible, and Richard Armitage, were absolutely phenomenal, and this time there was an almost immediate standing ovation.

I made my way directly to the Stage Door as fast as possible, only to find out Sue had embraced her inner ninja and somehow leaped over, under or through a railing somewhere and was about 10 people ahead! What an asset to have for the Stage Door experience, right? So I joined her, where we gushed about the excellence of the performance. Mom finally made it out, and she had her camera ready to go. I decided I’d probably regret it if I didn’t ask Richard Armitage for a picture, and I also wanted a signature for my program. We had decent position about ½ way down the building. The line reached the front of the theater and around the corner that night, and the atmosphere was positively buzzing. I was surprised at how fast Richard appeared, within 10 minutes, I think, and as expected, he sped down the line signing fast and repeating “Oh, thank you”, “Bless you”, and “Aw, thank you so much for coming”.


Armitage likes his rolled up jeans

Richard was wearing rolled up jeans, the super sexy grey t-shirt from the rehearsal photo shoot, and a snug-fitting grey cardigan. He smelled fresh, looked tremendously appealing but extremely weary, and spoke in a low, quiet voice. I was really expecting that he would seem an intimidating size (why, I don’t know, as Hubby has an inch on him and I don’t find tall men in general intimidating), but in actuality, he was nowhere near as large as I had thought after seeing him in the early Acts. I really wonder if that’s because he was not fully out of Act 4’s Proctor, who appears so much leaner and less robust, or if he’s intentionally projecting a low-key persona, but the man at the Stage Door had none of the breathtaking physicality and performance energy that he’d used to captivate hundreds of people earlier in in the evening.

Jholland overjoyed, Richard Armitage politely indulges her

Within moments, he was in front of me, and I said something along the lines of “that was just tremendous” as he signed my program, but to be truthful, I was pretty discombobulated, so my exact words are lost forever. Richard definitely replied “Aw, bless you” and he was already signing Sue’s program when I asked if I could please have a photo. He is very laid back. He said “Sure, where is the camera?” as he was already swinging into position in what can only be described as a well-practiced and fluid motion, placing an arm around my back (Yes!) and leaning in a bit (Yes!) as I pointed out my mom. Not being photogenic, I look a bit weird but completely thrilled, while Richard has a fatigued but pleasant expression that can be counted as a smile, though not half as big as my smile! Sue had apparently been distRActed at first, but suddenly remembered to give him her little thoughtful gift of throat lozenges, which she handed directly to him. Richard glanced at the lozenges as he accepted them, and chuckled (Yes!) as he thanked her.

My mom snapped several (unfortunately blurry) pics of Richard moving down the line. He stopped at the end of the building, and then disappeared, so there were probably about 15 to 20 that did not get to meet him that night. I’m happy to report that Mom was wide awake for The Crucible this time, and she reiterated that she’d loved it. In fact, months ago she’d pooh-poohed my 3rd ticket and made an alternate booking arrangement, saying twice at any show would be one time too many for her, but she changed her tune and wished she had that 3rd ticket after Saturday night. The three of us were wired, and had to discuss the details of The Crucible and try to recall specifics of our brief Stage Door encounter, so we walked down The Cut to a pub and drank wine and “talked Armitage” until we were told it was closing time. As Mom and I walked down Waterloo toward our hotel, we saw Natalie Gavin and Adrian Schiller, both of whom were spectacular in their roles, having a smoke and a quiet conversation outside of The Pit Bar, so we briefly complimented them and they smiled and nodded as we went past. I found out later that many of the cast members had been in the Pit Bar, possibly even Richard, so was kicking myself that we went elsewhere for our drinks!

I really look back fondly on that entire evening, as it was the first time I’d met with another member of our fandom, the performance was of course superb, and the Stage Door experience went off without me making a complete fool of myself. It all added up to the most wonderful evening we spent in London. So thank you, Sue. Thank you, Mom. And thank you, Richard Armitage.