My Final Crucible Stage Door

I do believe I have finally moved past The Crucible. Dreaming of Lucas North must have helped. I almost didn’t post anything about my final stage door encounter, but then I thought maybe someday I’d like to look back on it, so for posterity…

Friday Sept 5:

I DID intend to leave Richard Armitage alone after showing up at the front of the line on Monday evening. My reason: at this point I felt vaguely guilty, hearing via the Conversation that Act 4 wreaked such havoc on his system as to occasionally cause him to vomit and pass water, and having on three occasions witnessed for myself the dripping nose and the tears. He’d shared by then that the Stage Door was always done in a daze for him, and I knew I had not one but two photos with him, as well as a signed poster and a signed program. So I felt I had no business there, and I knew there would be other fans who hadn’t done Stage Door who deserved the gift of his time more than I did.

Nevertheless, Friday was my last night in London, I was all packed and had nothing much to do at 10:50pm, so off I went again. Mom and I had spent another day at Kew Gardens, and her “dogs were barking” (as we like to say when our feet are sore), so she stayed in the room. My dogs were barking, too, but that was the day we all found out the very best news, that there would be a Digital Theatre recording, and that really did wonders for my feet! And for my outlook on life, in general. Anyway, I wanted to take my final opportunity at The Old Vic to buy the poster with John Proctor looking down, but I didn’t intend to bother Richard. I was just going to chit-chat and share in the delight of the Digital Theatre news with fellow admirers who might already be in the line, then move across the street to observe. Very sadly, the poster turned out to be sold out. And I never moved across the street.  

A very sweet lady from Munich was right ahead of me, and two professional autograph hunters were lined up in front of us. We started visiting, and when I reported I’d been to the Stage Door before, she smiled and said she already knew this, which was how I learned that the photo I’d tweeted Monday night had turned up on Servetus’ blog. Wow- recognized at the Stage Door- that was a little disconcerting! Another man arrived and it looked like he was going to cut right in front of us, as he went over to the professional autograph hunters and they all spoke to each other. One reported that Martin Freeman didn’t do stage door again, confirming our suspicions. The third guy exchanged a little more conversation with the others, then at least had the grace to move behind me in the line, where he started pulling out glossy Guy of Gisborne photos from his satchel. The lady from Munich and I looked on. He noticed, then asked if we had met Richard. We both said we had, and he stated he hadn’t ever seen him, then claimed he was there “on behalf of me mum” to which I politely said, “Bless your heart!” (Anyone not from the Southern USA may not realize that is Southern code for “Why, you little toad!”) My Munich friend just gave me the universal raised eyebrow, so she may have thought I was actually fooled by his statement. We resumed our conversation, and at some point we did discuss the professionals and we were both curious to see how Richard would deal with them. Meanwhile, I had offered to take a picture of my new friend with Richard, thus conveniently committing myself to stay in the line.

So, out came Richard Armitage pretty soon, and there I was with my cell phone and my new friend’s camera. That evening, Richard was flying down the line looking pretty sharp in his white button-up shirt and grey suit jacket, and I think maybe he had somewhere else to be, because he was faster than ever and if he noticed the pros surrounding us, he didn’t comment, just signed the top page of everything and took a few photos for those who were ready. Despite our practicing with her camera, he somehow managed to pass us by without my friend from Munich getting a posed photo with him. I did manage to take a few pics of him signing autographs using her camera, but I felt sorry that we were unsuccessful there.

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Richard Armitage unwittingly resolves my poster dilemma.

After he passed our position, I returned her camera and snapped one of him using my cell phone. I got a gorgeous picture, considering how fast he was moving and how poorly my cell camera usually performs at night. I thought it funny that it resembles the very poster I was hoping to purchase just a few minutes before! Richard only did maybe 3/4 of the line that evening, then went in. My friend from Munich thought he did that as a result of becoming sort of surrounded as the people in the front of the line would move along with him, trying to get photos. I’m not sure if that was the case, or if he just had a pre-ordained stopping time, but there were a few people in the back who didn’t get to greet him.

I’m glad I went, just for the fact that I got a picture that shows that beautiful profile, and I met yet another lovely Richard Armitage admirer. I also proved, yet again, that my self-discipline concerning Richard Armitage is dodgy, at best. =)

 

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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.

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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!”

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”.

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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.

The Inaugural Post- Preoccupied With Richard

armitage3Collages1I find myself so bemused, here at my desk, embarking on a blog. In all likelihood few will read it, as I have no plans to really announce myself as a blogger to my real life circle, nor do I know if or how I should go about promoting my blog to others suffering the Richard Armitage Syndrome. I do know this: not one person in my real life knows much about Richard, aside from what I myself have told them, and that he plays a comparatively hunky dwarf in The Hobbit films.

 

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Hubby’s idea of a Richard Joke

That’s not entirely true. My husband knows who Richard Armitage is. He’s an attentive husband. A tolerant husband. How could he help but notice the sudden forum memberships, the appearance of a region-free DVD player and the arrival of multiple new DVDs, the impulsive decision to travel to London? Not long after I announced my fond desire to spend a small fortune attending The Crucible, I found this gem, courtesy of the Hubby, as the desktop image at the house. Hubby delights me time and again. He didn’t care to travel to London, but he gave his blessing and reminded me that I only fawn after Richard because he reminds my of my spouse….

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Fridge Rules: Each post must contain at least one cute, fluffy animal along with sex appeal.

My employees know who Richard Armitage is, as he features more than once on the community “puppy/kitten display” on our laboratory fridge, shown here in all its unapologetically exploitative glory. That, and I just left them for 10 days to travel to the UK, merely because he starred in a play and I had to be there. I did have to endure some ribbing, as they claimed they would hide the controlled drugs and cautioned me that any attempt to abduct Richard would result in imprisonment and/or deportation. The cheekiness!

My mom, probably more than anyone, knows how much I’ve lost my mind over Richard. As my travel companion to the U.K., it would be difficult for her to not realize the extent to which I’ve involved myself in this fandom. She was, however, game enough to accompany me to the Stage Door twice, and having watched the Crucible with me twice, she, more than anyone, now understands at least my intense admiration for his talent.

In this blog, I will publish my musings and my experiences pertaining to Richard Armitage. No telling how long my Affliction will last, or how dedicated a blogger I will become. I don’t know whether to hope it’s temporary or hope it’s here to stay.

This concludes my first blog entry. I believe it’s time to see a dog about his ear. =)