Expressionism in Theatre, #RichardArmitage?

 

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“I am hopefully going to go back on stage, probably directed by Yaël Farber again, sometime in 2016 or 2017. We’re developing an idea together and it will be a much more expressionistic, physical approach to theatre, which is the sort of theatre I’m really interested in. I can’t say what it will be but we have a play in mind, quite an ancient play.” – Richard Armitage with yet more clues about the future stage collaboration with (“probably”… what does “probably” mean?) Yaël Farber (source).

Richard has dropped another couple of hints in the excerpt above, namely that the next stage production he’ll be involved in will be an ancient play, and that they intend to adopt an “expressionistic” approach. This was in addition to his comments in another recent interview that hinted they plan to “push the physicality” of the theatre genre. I must admit, I’m incredibly intrigued by these statements.

expressionistpaintingsSo what, I asked myself, would expressionism in theatre look like? In terms of artwork, I’ve always thought of expressionists as artists whose work distorts the image in ways that enhance the viewer’s gut response, usually by dramatic color choices, exaggerated brush strokes, and often jarring or angsty subject matter. Translating that sort of thing to theatre, though… I was having a hard time imagining it. And maybe I still am.

So I googled “expressionism in theatre” and found out that there is/was indeed a movement that began in Germany that brought elements of expressionism to theatre. I came to this blog, which gave some descriptions of the movement in terms of its characteristics and techniques.

A few highlights, taken directly from that page:

Its atmosphere was often vividly dreamlike and nightmarish. The mood was aided by shadowy, unrealistic lighting and visual distortions in the set.

Settings avoided reproducing the detail of naturalistic drama, and created only those starkly simplified images the theme of the play called for (sounds familiar- thinking of Soutra Gilmore’s stark and simplistic set designs for The Crucible at The Old Vic, right?)

Characters lost their individuality and were merely identified by nameless designations, like The Man, The Father, The Son

Crowds are also impersonalized, and move with mass rhythmic movements, often mechanically

The style of acting known as the ‘ecstatic’ style, it was intense and violent, and expressed tormented emotions. Actors might erupt in sudden passion and attack each other physically

All this, and knowing what a genius Yaël Farber is at “re-imagining” a classic such as The Crucible and presenting the play in a way that stays true to the script yet feels so much more visceral, so much more evocative, has made me all the more eager for whatever it is Richard Armitage has in store for us in 2016 or 2017. The juxtaposition implied by staging an “ancient” play in a modern “expressionistic” style… it’s a fascinating idea. Add in Richard Armitage in “enhanced physicality mode” and, well….

I don’t care where, or when… I’ll be there.

 

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I Wonder What Enhanced Physicality Would Look Like, #RichardArmitage

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“I can’t tell you what it is, but it will definitely have a much more physical base to it. One of the things I love about theatre is the limitless way that you can kind of use the body, so we’re gonna push the physicality of that kind of theatre a little bit more.” – Richard Armitage on his plans for future stage collaboration with Yaël Farber (Source).

Wow. Hold on to your hats, ladies. Sounds like whatever the project is, we might be in for a wild ride! I mean, I thought his physicality as John Proctor was something to behold. If that’s not physicality, then what is?

 

Limerick: In Honor of #TheCrucibleOnScreen

It was 6:00 AM when the alarm clock sounded
I yawned, checked my phone, and was instantly astounded!
“The Old Vic’s The Crucible – coming soon”
Right there in my inbox, and I was over the moon!
The announcement we’ve longed for… I finally found it!

I’ve never jumped out of my bed quite so fast…
Or danced into the bathroom… Hubby aghast!
I simply must explode
Into limerick mode
To celebrate this news at long last!

It’s coming! It’s coming! On March Seventeen…
The Crucible! John Proctor! The wash basin scene!
Just kidding, #onlyjoking
(I know that’s provoking)
I’m just overwhelmed to soon see this onscreen!

The news is everywhere now, on social media galore
Facebook and Twitter; Forums, Blogs and more
Is Digital Theatre prepared
Will servers crash when it’s aired?
Has an entire Army ever downloaded before?

I’d like to thank Digital Theatre and The Old Vic
For making it possible, with simply a click
For thousands to experience
Yael and Richard’s brilliance
And for providing me with such a fine morning kick!

Richard Armitage as John Proctor is well worth the wait…
My pleasure is heartfelt, and will not abate.
What a Day! What a Friday! We’ve waited so long!
I feel like dancing, singing, and ringing a gong…
Even knowing, as I do, that this play… devastates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limerick: Richard Armitage Savings Fund

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Like many others, I made a New Years resolution
I had a problem that needed a solution
With my “preoccupied” status
Showing no hiatus
I decided my funds needed redistribution.

The idea to start a Richard Armitage savings account
Came to me when I saw the final amount
My abrupt trip to London
Was not easily funded
But this problem in future I hope to surmount.

When Armitage announced he’d collaborate with Yael again
I knew myself well enough to know I’d never refrain
Seeing RA in live action
Is an irresistible attraction
But a huge chunk of money makes the Hubby complain!

That problem I’ve solved, and now Hubby is cool
Just a little from each paycheck, will be my new rule
My fund slowly grows
As I save for those shows
And scheme about travelling to admire and drool!

Another Onion Article?

A Fandom Divided: Oglers Unite as Theatre Purists Decry Images of Bare-Chested Actor

The notoriously drama-filled fandom revolving around The Hobbit star Richard Armitage has found another bone of contention to pick among themselves, sources say. Pursuant to the decision to film the British actor’s recent performance as John Proctor, the tortured protagonist in Yael Farber’s critically acclaimed production of American playwright Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (staged at the Old Vic Theatre in London, 2014), many believed that the fandom, loosely known as The Armitage Army, having united its factions with unparalleled success in its efforts to obtain a DVD or other recording of the vaunted Armitage performance, would continue to present a unified image to the world. However, it would seem that The Armitage Army continues to nurse grievances among themselves that periodically explode across social media.

The latest quarrel amongst the ranks appears to revolve around the mysterious release of several images of a bare-chested John Proctor, seen down on the floor washing himself at the beginning of Act 2. We contacted a spokesperson from Puritan Farmers Cooperative, and showed him the images. “I would have to say, I can not object to these images. Without we wash at the end of a long day, we land in the barn for the night. Does not every goodwife say, ‘Come you not to my bed smelling of manure’?” Our contact found nothing scintillating about the images, although he was quick to add that he does not plow on Sundays.

However, it would seem that many members of the fandom did, in fact, find the images to be stirring. One Armitage blogger was swift to share the controversial images, and likened the experience to a hormonal conflagration. “Yes, those images caused a spontaneous ovarian combustion! I’ve seen one of the images, or something close to it, already, but these camera angles,” she said, pointing with trembling fingers to images showing Armitage’s wide shoulders, muscular back, lean torso, and a tantalizing thigh/buttock side view, “Whew. These angles are simply spectacular!” She went on to postulate that the images might in fact be dangerous to reproductive health. “There is such a syndrome as Spontaneous Ovarian Hyperstimulation, you know.”

As of press time, representatives from the National Institutes of Health could not be contacted to answer whether these images might in fact be useful in the treatment of infertility in women, and the Armitage blogger was hesitant to postulate as to the effectiveness of Richard Armitage’s bare torso for the purposes of improving conception rates for struggling couples. “Whoa, now. I’m a veterinarian. I might be able to answer your questions about fertility in bitches, and I may occasionally refer to Armitage images jokingly as good medicine, but I’m not qualified to offer any sort of treatment plan for other women.”

Medicinal uses aside, many Armitage admirers appeared to seek sensual gratification by viewing the images. “It’s a rough job, but someone has to objectify him,” commented a preeminent Armitage blogger, viewing with satisfaction one of her own edits. The busy image depicts twelve locations on John Proctor’s exposed upper body that the blogger would like to kiss, and prompted many blog commentators to point out other areas that they felt were additionally deserving of collective smooching attentions. This post spawned further debate as to the definition of a widow’s peak amongst the fandom, so we contacted the Hairline Consultation Hotline, whose experts were familiar with Armitage’s work.

“While Thorin Oakenshield does show a prominent widow’s peak, it is our conclusion that his hairline was in fact achieved by use of a very convincing hairpiece. Upon review of images of Richard Armitage as himself and as John Proctor, most hairline pundits agree that he does not sport a widow’s peak. The traditional understanding of a widow’s peak is most certainly a V-shaped point in the center of the forehead. I would place celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Leonardo DiCaprio much higher on the widow’s peak spectrum than I would place Richard Armitage.” When asked to discern the V-shaped area of hairline that the blogger wished she could kiss, the hairline expert readily identified the disputed area as a receding temple, and remarked, “Mr. Armitage here is a lovely example of why a receding temple is not always an unattractive feature of a hairline. The sharp, almost dramatic points of his receding temples add interest to an otherwise rather humdrum hairline.”

When the controversial wash basin images were shared on Richard Armitage appreciation pages on Facebook, however, they were met in some cases with derision and incredulity. Taking down the images and citing her reluctance to circulate “beefcake screengrabs” prior to every fandom member first viewing the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre download of the Yael Farber/Richard Armitage collaboration, one Facebook administrator pleaded with disgruntled members to show respect for Farber and Armitage. Urging everyone to first watch, and register the pivotal themes and solemn subject matter, the administrator unwittingly stirred the pot in a fandom troubled by fears of internal policing amongst their ranks.

“You do realize that he took his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible, right?” wrote yet a third blogger, incredulous that the images of the “half-nekkid” actor should have been at the center of yet another fandom “dust-up”. Arguing that Richard Armitage not only knows exactly what he’s about, but appreciates occasional raunchy humor, including dick jokes, the blogger opined that Richard Armitage should be allowed to draw his own boundaries. A review of tweets from the actor himself seems to validate the blogger’s assertion. Not only dick jokes, but a flurry of scatological humor was discovered in a review of Armitage’s hashtags, which are widely accepted to have proceeded forth from the actor himself on many occasions, and have resulted in the actor’s followers topping 100,000.

When contacted to ask whether he intended to share scatological humor and dick jokes with his Chinese followers on Weibo, Richard Armitage declined to make any promises, but he did mutter that he didn’t understand how his foreskinned penis had anything to do with any of it. It is surmised that Armitage may have been referring to yet another blog post, whose author chimed in by implicating that the beleaguered anti-ogling faction was in fact akin to Judge Hathorne, the judge who presided over the Salem Witch trials, in their efforts to subdue the fandom’s reaction to the shirtless images of John Proctor. Yael Farber was also contacted for comment, and her representatives categorically denied any knowledge of Armitage’s foreskinned penis, but did confirm that Farber was aware of the actor’s actions while removing his shirt approximately 101 times during The Crucible run, and indicated that this would not hinder her decision to collaborate with Armitage in the future.

 

 

Reflections on Recent Fandom Drama

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Richard Armitage as John Proctor, shirtless, The Crucible official poster, Old Vic Theatre, London, 2014

 

The post that caused recent uproar:

“Folks, as the creator of this page, I had and *have* a vision: to 1) celebrate RA’s *performance* in The Crucible, and 2) to show respect for Yael Farber’s astonishing production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece (staged at The Old Vic in the summer of 2014).
PLEASE, respect these two things.
The play is not about a shirtless RA, shots which occur for brief moments in a 3.5 hour-play
Rather, The Crucible is a play about hysteria, mob-thought and mob-violence against good, innocent people, and it is about integrity.
So, these bare-chested shots of RA seen elsewhere will have to wait until after the download has been released in the States, and most of us have seen the entire play, and registered its powerful and timely message.”

And her comment under the post:

“… What can I say? I’m a theater purist. I like a shirtless RA as much as the next person, but it seems a shame that these “beefcake” screen-grabs are the first to make the rounds. I have a home-school subscription to Digital Theatre Plus (sharing with small groups of local students, and a teacher or parent, through screenings in my living room). The Crucible is one of those plays that so powerful and so stunning – especially this production – and Miller includes so many heart-breaking, beautiful, terrible, horrifying, and/or poignant moments that I’m just sad to see these shots come out before those…” Richard Armitage US, Facebook, ‘Richard Armitage in THE CRUCIBLE’ Appreciation Page

Hmmm.

Maybe she didn’t intend to sound condescending, but what I felt, upon reading this, was this: Those of you who have shared, stared at, discussed, enjoyed, or drooled over the screencaps of shirtless John Proctor have completely failed to not only admire RA’s critically acclaimed performance in the role, but even to comprehend or appreciate the important themes in Miller’s work. So shame on you.

I also didn’t quite understand, from this post, whether she meant that after the download has been released, will we, the oglers, then be allowed to appreciate, share, stare at, discuss, enjoy, and drool over the screencaps of shirtless John Proctor? After we’ve contemplated the deeper, disturbing messages, that is? How long should we spend on our contemplation before it is ok to appreciate the shirtless Proctor? Or should that be never? Perhaps that scene should, in fact, be cut. Maybe it was a mistake on Yael Farber’s part to add such a distraction into the mix.

The truth is, I 100% agree with her assessment that the production was stunning, heartbreaking, beautiful, terrifying and all the rest. Indeed, I was not myself for a couple of months after I saw The Crucible performed three times. I was profoundly moved by the play, devastated even, and couldn’t get any part of it out of my head. I couldn’t get involved in a new book, I had little interest in TV or movies, and those deep themes and disturbing subject matter haunted me. The fact that I can now look upon John Proctor’s form in the firelight, and appreciate the rough, masculine elegance of a farmer, washing, does not reflect poorly on my understanding of The Crucible, or in any way diminish its powerful message. On the contrary, the moment I saw the images, I was taken back to those moments, in London, when I watched him, in all his vulnerability, perform this scene. I experienced that intimacy, and the shaky, light-headed, breathless feelings that it effected in me, anew.

Yes, he’s powerfully attractive. Yes, my ovaries combusted. So, apparently, did Abigail Williams’ ovaries, at some point. John Proctor was (to his ultimate shame and regret) a sexual creature. Ironically, the washing scene was actually one of the least sexually charged moments, in terms of on-stage chemistry. This scene did allow the audience a chance to appreciate John Proctor’s form, and his appeal, yes. But it also set the stage for the Act 2, in which we see John Proctor’s reality in the privacy of his own home. He puts the shirt back on, you see. He is vulnerable, and alone, as he washes. When his wife enters the room, with coldness and a hint of accusation in her tone, he puts the shirt back on, and with it, the weight of his struggling marriage.

At any rate, I don’t have a problem with Richard Armitage US controlling what is posted on a page she created. It is her prerogative whether or not she allows images of shirtless John Proctor to be ogled, discussed, admired on her page. However, I do think she might reflect on her own words a bit. She states that the purpose of her page is:

1) to respect RA’s ” *performance* “: Huh. I must say that I did admire his performance in that scene… he embodied the exhausted, hard-working, lonely farmer completely, from his posture, to his facial expressions, to the little noises he made as he washed… and yes, I did also admire his form… what’s not to love? Is the fact that he took his shirt off a problem here? Can he not perform as well without his shirt? Enlighten me!

2) and also to respect “Yael Farber’s astonishing production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece”: So… was Yael Farber somehow not involved with or aware of the inclusion of the wash basin scene- did her vision for the production not include the audience’s inevitable appreciation for the stripped-down farmer? Was there no purpose, from Yael Farber’s perspective, for that scene? Should looking at the screencaps of that scene therefore diminish our respect for Yael’s work?

In other words, why should our appreciation of and discussion of the shirtless scene be automatically disrespectful, or somehow minimize the impact of the production as a whole? It honestly makes very little sense to me. I agree, The Crucible is not just about a shirtless RA. But is the admiration of a shirtless John Proctor really disrespectful, or indicative of a failure to appreciate Miller’s themes, or the ensemble’s performance? Is it necessary to prescribe for other fans what facets of The Crucible are acceptable to appreciate, and in what order we should appreciate them?

I say no.

Richard Armitage Distraction Muted, But Devastating

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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.

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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!

DUMBASS

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.)

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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. =)