Tag Archives: The Crucible

I hear it’s your biRthdAy (Na-na-na-na-NANA-na-na)

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Richard Armitage, you really are a pretty special guy.

And I have very high standards when it comes to the men I admire, crush on, fall in love with and marry. I did the latter two deeds over 30 years ago and haven’t regretted a moment I’ve spent with one incredibly smart, talented, witty, kind and cuddly guy, a gentle man whose smiles are always reflected in those pretty blue eyes of his. As I said, I know how to pick ’em.

So here it is, the 44th birthday of my favorite actor. I hope you feel really good about what you’ve accomplished since your last birthday.  You’ve certainly been productive, and it seems to me the projects you’ve done are things that really interest and challenge you.

My timeline may be slightly jumbled. I am not only nearly 11 years your senior, I am also feeling lots of “discognition” of late–but anyway, here goes!0a4b2e8b886ae86caf1cbde381e61887

Last summer you managed to win over the hearts of critics and audiences alike with the raw intensity of your performance night after night in “The Crucible,” earning your first (but, I am confident, NOT the last) Olivier Award nomination for best actor. So proud for you!

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Later in the year we all marveled once more at Thorin’s majesty, fretted and feared for him in the depths of his madness, grieving his loss with our tears as “The Hobbit” trilogy came to a close (my own dear blue-eyed fella was so kind when I started weeping in the theater). You were nominated and won a Saturn Award for your performance as Thorin–and it was much deserved, my dear fellow. That character has certainly brought you a legion of new fans of both sexes and in a wide range of ages.

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You also have three films in the can (or in post production), “Urban,” “Sleepwalker” and “Pilgrimage” offering you three diverse roles: a disillusioned former social worker turned unlikely savior in the UK of a generation ago, a doctor in a contemporary psychological thriller and a medieval French nobleman in a period action/adventure tale.

Production is underway on “Brain on Fire,” you’ve got a cameo in a Tim Burton fantasy film and there is that Edith Wharton period drama project, along with the action film “Clearance” coming up for you.28a955f11c4110059bb9f27a1cdeb31e

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And right now—I am anticipating the 12th episode of “Hannibal.” I admit I am feeling sad to know there are only two more new eps counting this one for me to watch. It’s been such a treat to see you on American TV, to be able to DVR your performances and re-watch them when I choose to do so. And I am absolutely thrilled your performance as Francis has been so well received!
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As much as I was dreading this role in some ways, and as difficult as it is for me to watch certain scenes (when the Red Dragon was beating the sh*t out of Francis, I knew you had to be inflicting pain on yourself, too), I am mesmerized by your performance, by all the careful and artful shadings you bring to this role.

Dolarhyde is a monster and yet he is also, as Reba says, “a sweet man.” He’s a calculating and methodical killer of entire families and a tender lover with a touch of the poet in his soul, all bundled into one complex package. I am, indeed, in awe of what you bring to the character of Francis Dolarhyde. Bravo!

Of course, there have also been all the interviews and appearances to promote the various projects, which you managed with your usual grace, good humor and aplomb during the past year. It’s always a pleasure when you are given the opportunity to talk about your craft. And it’s always fun to see what you are wearing! 😉

 

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So I raise my glass of sweet tea in a toast to you, dear Richard–Happy Birthday today and for many years to come. I look forward to seeing what this next year brings for you!

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Richard Armitage: So Much to AppReCiAte. Remember, it’s ALL good.

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Richard Armitage is all that and a bag of chips. An extra-large bag of Golden Flakes, made right here in Alabama and one of  favorite guilty pleasures to this day.

 

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I believe we all can agree that Richard is enormously talented and versatile in his gifts. The man can act phenomenally well, using every facet of his physical being–that deep, earthy voice, amazingly mobile face, those big, elegant hands and so much more–to bring his characters to vivid (and at time, heart-wrenching) life. We can easily believe he is the individual he is portraying as we take a journey alongside him. We watch, we listen, hang on the edge of our seats as we hold our collective breath; we cheer and we shed tears. We mourn. We do not forget. Those characters, this man, sticks with us.

 

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Richard as Thorin back inside Erebor for the first time in years. Courtesy of The Arkenstone-ck.tumblr.com

Along with those acting chops we have a man who can sing, play instruments, ride horseback and perform fight scenes with the grace and agility of the professional dancer he once was.  All that he has experienced in his life and learned and trained for in each of his roles has helped bring him to where he is today–an increasingly acclaimed actor of both stage and screen with several new projects on the horizon. Workaholic that he appears to be, I don’t think we have to worry about Richard “resting” (as unemployed actors refer to being in between roles) for very long.

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He’s also a consummate professional described in glowing terms by co-stars, crew members, scriptwriters and directors. Richard is hard working and humble, affable and kind, generous and good hearted with an infectious laugh that reaches right up into  those twinkling blue eyes. What’s not to love?

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Now, not only is he an amazing talent, he also happens to be really, really attractive.  Easy on the eyes with that arrestingly handsome face and the sort of tall, broad-shouldered masculine physique that invites daydreams and fantasies.  “Oh child of Venus, you’re just made for love . . .” He was always a cutie, but I swear he’s grown into more masculine gorgeousness with each passing year.

And it’s perfectly OK to celebrate that physical beauty along with his intelligence, talent, work ethic, charisma and charitable instincts. Because these qualities, inner and outer, are all part and parcel of what makes Richard Armitage Richard Armitage. And keeps us coming back for more . . . and more.

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Hubba-hubba.

So don’t be hatin’ on bloggers who take time out from their serious discussions of his work to light-heartedly enjoy the siren call of Mr. Armitage’s outward qualities, whether it be nipples, biceps, bum or other physical attributes. Because it’s ALL good. Just like a big ol’ bag of Golden Flakes . . .

In spite of disappointment, illness and ill luck, a little laughter in life.

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Unfortunately, due to what has only thus far been described as “unforeseen circumstances,” Richard and his fellow actors weren’t able to perform “The Crucible” Monday night. I really feel for those who missed the performance; some may get another opportunity while others will not. It’s been raining heavily all day in Londontown, which can only have added to a certain feeling of gloom and doom over those who missed their opportunity to see RA perform on stage in this much-heralded production.  Of course, our Richard, class act that he is, popped over to apologize to fans and make their day a lot brighter than it otherwise would have been. When I say “bless RA’s heart,” it’s meant in a completely sincere, non-catty way by this southern girl.

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If it had been me who received such disappointing news, I’d have been shattered. Might have felt like throwing a right ol’ hissy fit, or just curling up in a corner and bawling my eyes out. I guess it brought back memories of a heartbreak I suffered a few summers ago, and I found myself shedding tears tonight for those who had their plans for the evening dashed.

There are friends and acquaintances out there right now around the world who are suffering pain and losses of various kinds, some who are struggling.  I wish I could do more materially for those for whom I care who are in need, whether it’s homeless animals half-starved and dependent on the kindness of strangers after abandonment, or my fellow humans who could truly use a lift.

My dad had a motto: “A little laughter in life.” His own life certainly wasn’t always easy, happy or carefree.  He had bouts of melancholy that sometimes deepened into depression. Still, he loved a good joke, a funny story. Finding laughter helped him through toughest times. As his only biological child, I’ve tried to embrace that motto, too. And I love being around people who know the value, the saving grace, one can find in laughter.

That’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to and intrigued by Richard Armitage.  Compassion, benevolence, a great, lively sense of humor that refrains from mean spiritedness, all the while embracing some much-needed silliness when needed.  I love hearing and seeing him laugh, those full-bodied, from-the-heart guffaws and rather silly giggles, so appealing and endearing.

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Here’s hoping the problems at the Old Vic are sorted out, the weather improves, and Proctor and Company can trod the boards once more.  In the meantime . . .
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Happy Birthday, dearest Richard. You really ARE getting bettah and bettah.

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bvmrymnimamly4p_largeFrom Richard’s very own Twitter Account. The boy is getting braver and braver in his advancing years. 😉  I love this pic. For some reason, it reminds me of Paul McCartney back in his bearded days in the ’70s . . . Sir Paul was my first crush on a “grown up.” Something about those talented Brits that has appealed to me since I was a mere child of four or five. 

 

Dear Richard,

While you’ve been wowing all those audiences this summer at the Old Vic, I’ve been battling with an angry wrist I can’t seem to get sorted out.  And so I have to apologise–I don’t have a birthday video (or two) prepared for you this year. I do have something in the works, but it’s not finished yet, nor is it, strictly speaking, a birthday video.  I have several ideas, some more light-hearted and others, in a more serious vein, but it takes time, energy, a reasonable degree of comfort and clarity of mind for this old girl to get it together these days.

Actually, I feel like such a namby pamby even complaining about my situation. Look at YOU. Eight grueling shows a week, emoting your heart out, giving your best in every gut-wrenching performance, and yet–there you are, showing up time after time at the stage door, freshly showered, smiling, soft-spoken and sweet-tempered as always . . . I don’t know how you do it.  But bless you for doing it.

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You’ve made so many people very, very happy–not only those lucky few (in terms of the overall fandom) who are managing to make it to the Old Vic this summer, but all of us who have vicariously enjoyed these encounters through shared photos, tweets and blog entries. Hey, I even have my VERY OWN “Crucible” programme and poster, thanks to one of your kind and generous fans (thank you, Judit!).

 

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““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

Can it be that all those highly anticipated appearances to sign autographs, have your photo snapped or accept gifts from your well-wishers help depressurize you after releasing all that raw intensity on stage? Is it a reminder for you of how “our little community” really, truly does admire, respect and adore you? A chance to put aside the gruff Proctor and let the easygoing Rich come out . . . long ago, did you dream of this day, at a well-regarded London theatrical venue, when a throng of fans would be waiting there for you? Ever have to pinch yourself, just a little?

 

Whatever the reasons, you continue to earn my admiration for being a truly kind, thoughtful and down-to-earth individual, the consummate professional who also happens to be blessed with brains, talent, charm and good looks in a most extraordinary way (sorry, I didn’t mean to make you blush. Or maybe I did. That flush coming to those excellent cheekbones is really quite endearing . . .)

 

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And that talent . . . oh, how THRILLED I have been by all the accolades I’ve read about your performance as Proctor. Not that I expected anything less than a fine performance from you; but not everyone is blessed with that Good Taste Gene.  And Benny and I had so much fun seeing you in “Into the Storm.” I think Porter is still his favorite ChaRActer, but he has a true appreciation for heroic assistant principals who smell like sheep, too, now. 😉

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Your skill in dealing with press junkets, red carpets and journalists offering varying degrees of knowledge and tact is ever evolving. Unflappable Armitage lives, and continues to entertain, inform and disarm us. And what a treat you look–stylish, a true star, and yet very comfortable in your own skin.
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There’s so much to look forward to in your 43rd year, Richard. We eagerly await the release of “Urban” (even if I have to wait on a DVD to see it); there’s the extended edition of the second Hobbit film and the accompanying promotion for that. And, of course, the last juggernaut for the final installment of PJ’s trilogy, offering the return of majestic Thorin, the world’s sexiest (and most angst-ridden) dwarf (now, quit rolling those baby blues at me. Thorin. is. sexy. Period. Or full stop as you lot say)

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I don’t know what else is on tap for you; maybe you’ll be sharing that soon in your conversation at the Old Vic? What I do know is I wish you more—more excellent acting roles in whatever venues you desire, more happiness, friendship and good health. More opportunities to learn and grow, to laugh and love. To live life to the fullest in the way you want to live it.

Happy Birthday, Rich.

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Because I certainly am. Ever so proud.

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Oh, and never stop talking with your hands. It’s an extra added value to the fangurling I dearly love.

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Signed,
an ardent Armitage admirer

aka fedoralady

What and who I want Richard Armitage to be.

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I want Richard Armitage to be fulfilled–in terms of his work, I want him to be cast in the kinds of roles he truly desires to play, to be able to dig into characters he finds intriguing, juicy, an exciting challenge that will flex his acting muscles.

 

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I want him to keep finding satisfaction in practicing his craft. If he chooses to go into directing, writing and producing at some point, I am all for that, too–although, selfishly, I hope he never chooses to leave acting behind altogether.  He’s much too good at it.

I also want him to be happy and satisfied in his personal life. He believes in nourishment and nurturing; I want Richard to have friends, family, lovers who give him the nourishing and nurturing he so richly deserves.  People with whom he feels truly at home, no matter where his career may take him, because they are always there in his heart.

I want Richard Armitage to know he has many, many admirers who appreciate him for all he has given us, and not just through his performances.  We appreciate all the stage door appearances, no matter what the weather, all those autographs signed, photos posed for and happy moments provided when fans get to look directly into those beautiful eyes and be on the receiving end of one of those stellar smiles.  He speaks so kindly of us in interviews and never seems to take his little community for granted.  I don’t want him to ever feel he owes his fandom a thing, except, perhaps, to bring his best to his roles–and he hasn’t failed me yet.

 

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Yes, I want Richard to be happy, satisfied, fulfilled in all facets of his life, to keep learning and growing and being the special human being that he is; to love and to be loved.

I want Richard to be himself. Bright, talented, funny, thoughtful, kind, generous, talented, versatile, and just a little mysterious.  To reveal what he choses to reveal, and to keep private that which he chooses to keep to himself. It’s his right and privilege as a fellow human being.

I consider myself most fortunate to have been his admirer for seven years, seven years of experiencing masculine beauty coupled with an amazing and always evolving talent, a delightful sense of humor and a gentle and humble spirit.

What he brings into my life is more than enough for me, and I regularly say, “Thank you, God, for creating such a wonder as Richard Armitage.”

 

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“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

~ Thomas Merton: No Man is an Island

 

Catching up with Fedoralady; thoughts on moving out of comfort zones

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(Blogger’s note: I started this post this morning and then decided to take a nice long nap. Turned out to be even longer than I planned.  Yeah, I was tired.)

My physical therapist told me to take it easy this weekend and I would hate to let her down.  We are out of cereal so I had cold pizza for a late breakfast. It’s really very tasty. I’m catching up on some of the movies and TV shows I have DVRed while thinking seriously about a nap. My husband will chide me for being a couch potato when he gets home this afternoon, but just call me “Spuds Fedora” today.

Pain kept me up well into the night.  I keep reminding myself that sometimes things get worse before they get better and it’s not as if I am unaccustomed to pain and discomfort, right? The tennis elbow (more like photographer/videographer’s elbow) and tendonitis have improved, I think; the ulnar nerve, on the other hand, has given me absolute fits.  I suspect a nerve conductivity test will be unavoidable (with minor surgery to relieve the nerve compression to follow).

 

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Speaking of nerves, my car has broken down five times in the last two weeks, forcing me to miss my much-needed therapy last Friday.  It’s getting on my last nerve, that big, comfy old (emphasis on “old”) tank.  It’s not the battery or alternator, apparently; sometimes it just decides it doesn’t want to crank. Well, I feel the same way some days, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on the Crown Vic.  And I have to be thankful for cell phones and the kindness of the local police force, who obligingly moved The Old Tank out of the roundabout and into a safe spot last Friday . . . it could be worse.

I have been thinking a lot about comfort zones of late, too; dear friend Judit, aka the Hungarian Honey, is writing about her Crucible experiences and sharing them here with us at my blog. For Judit, writing something for publication, putting it out there where anyone online could potentially see it, was scary. Unnerving. Those feelings are perfectly understandable.

 

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A few years back, when I wrote my first fan fic, a one-off story with Lucas, I was very apprehensive about publishing it. And keep in mind, I was a working newspaper reporter and columnist at the time. But this was something different; this was fiction, not fact, not an area I had a great deal of experience in writing-wise. I was dealing with a whole new group of potential readers. I knew the horror stories about “flamers.” Who wants their creative efforts to be ripped apart?

So yes, I had some butterflies in the stomach before I hit that “publish” button at Live Journal.

After some initial technical glitches, it all went pretty well. Better even than I expected.  So I kept at it, started writing longer multi-chapter fiction. I had a lot of fun and felt a definite sadness when a project came to the end and I had to say “goodbye” to the characters.  I can understand better how actors can become attached to and protective of their characters, too.

I even moved on to writing a novel with my own characters, although for various reasons it’s languishing for now, its inhabitants still knocking at the door of my imagination from time to time. The point is, writing fan fiction gave me the opportunity to flex some creative muscles in ways I hadn’t used them before. As the graphic above says, I had to be willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable along the way.

 

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I did worry about what people would think, what they would say, when I first started sharing my creative efforts within the fandom. You know what? I have learned you have to leave those worries behind, too, as you step outside the static safety of the comfort zone. I love this quote you see above. You can never, nor should you ever try, to please everyone. Haters are gonna sit on the sidelines and be haters. Always have been, and always will be.

Jealousy and envy have been around as long as humankind; don’t let it stop you when others display theirs.   If you feel the desire, the need, the passion to share your creativity and imagination and dreams through writing, drawing, painting, photo editing, video making, blogging, dancing, singing or other means, DO IT.  And look for like-minded people who will encourage and nurture and inspire you along the way!

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Even though life I am still relatively poor, with a chronic condition affecting me mind, body and spirit, no longer a cute young thing and driving a vehicle the reliability of which is suspect–I think it isn’t over yet, that I still have something to say, something to share, someone to inspire, new things to learn, growing to do. I am still looking for the magic . . . it’s the attitude I believe the man who inspired/inspires me would champion, the one who has kept pushing against the boundaries of his own comfort zone.

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graphics courtesy of pinterest

ICYMI Richard interviewed by Andrew Marr: “You Leave Drenched in Sweat”

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Screencap from interview courtesy of Fly High at Richard Armitage Friends Network on Facebook

A few of the quotes:

“They are living and breathing it with us . . . ” (referring to “The Crucible” audiences)

“I think Spooks may be the last of its kind . . . we shot on film. It was slightly ahead of its time.”

(When asked about the “romantic enthusiasm” often displayed by actors who had appeared in the LOTR/TH films)

“You feel as if you are making a home movie in Peter Jackson’s back garden. New Zealand is such a magical place.”

(When asked about doing future roles, including Shakespeare, on stage)

“If you are asking me that today, I’d say ‘enough already.’ (laughs) But no, there are other roles I would like to tackle . . . I didn’t know if I could do it before I started . . .”  And now he KNOWS. 😀  Even if he hasn’t actually read any of the reviews! Boy, will your cheeks flush red when you finally do, Mr. Humility!

And I am guessing that Mr. Marr hasn’t seen The Hobbit? Pssst, Richard plays a dwarf, Andrew, not a hobbit . . .  😉

Mr. A, when considering more stage roles—consider coming to the U.S. and your new “home city,” NYC. Because I might be able to beg, borrow and/or steal enough to make it to see you!

 

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Part 2 of Judit’s ‘Crucible’ Oddysey: Prepping, Pressies and a Study in Contrast

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The eagerly awaited second part of Hungarian RA fan Judit’s “Crucible” experience is here! Not only did Judit get to see RA perform in the role of John Proctor three times at the Old Vic, she also had the opportunity to see the play staged this spring in her native Hungary, providing us with a study in contrasts between the two productions.  We also get to vicariously enjoy the fun of picking out presents for our favorite fella, who spent considerable time in Judit’s “stomping grounds” of Budapest! Read on, enjoy and comment. And thanks once again, Judit.

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Theatre tickets, flights and accommodation booked – yet I was still a bit like Geraldine in VOD when Harry asks her to dinner. “OMG, only FIVE hours to get ready” (only in my case, it was “OMG. only two-and-a-half months to get ready!”).

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PREPARATION!

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First things first. I had to get my hands on the original English version of the play. I do have the Hungarian translation, but I wanted to read it as it was written. So I ordered an inexpensive used copy from Amazon. And it turned out to be the same edition as the one Richard was working from during rehearsal! How I squeed when I saw “my” book in those huge hands!

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A coincidence, which turned out to be part of my “preparation process,” was the chance to see a guest performance of “The Crucible” at the National Theatre in Budapest on 30th April. Having never been to our National Theatre (it’s a relatively new building), I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I thought it would be interesting to see another staging and have something to which I could compare the Old Vic’s version ( I had not yet read the play when I saw the version at the National Theatre).

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From the Hungarian National Theatre production of The Crucible, courtesy of Judit.

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A huge difference straight away was the traditional staging of the Hungarian version.  As it turned out, the script was also  cut compared to the Old Vic’s. production–the performance in Hungary was 40 minutes shorter.  The costumes were a mixture of different eras–perhaps to emphasize the story’s timelessness? I am not sure. They also “sexed up” the play a bit in some of the scenes with John and Abigail, and John and Elizabeth. There was one particularly gruesome torture scene involving Tituba. Elizabeth Proctor recited the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the play–which certainly was not in the original script, nor did I quite see the point of it.

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In terms of performances, I thought the Hungarian cast was really strong all around–except for the actor who played John Proctor. He just didn’t have the stage presence or the charisma to make me take him or his plight seriously.I am afraid the Hungarian version of Proctor had all the charisma of a wet sock, and was definitely the weakest link in that cast. In fact, I thought that the real protagonists of the play were the Reverend Hale and Elizabeth, not Proctor! It was hard for me to figure out what made Richard want to play that character . . .

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 Anyway, my favourite performance of the evening came from the actor (who incidentally, looks like he could be William Gaunt’s long-lost twin brother) playing Giles Corey. I think Giles is one of the most relatable characters and he brings much-needed comic relief to the proceedings.

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PRESSIES!

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I’d decided very early on that I was going to bring RA some presents – something to remind him of Hungary, since he’d spent almost two years here shooting the three series of Robin Hood.

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I figured that since most people in the queue at the stage door are there to get something FROM him (i.e. autographs, photos, etc.) he might appreciate it if someone wanted to GIVE him something for a change.

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Since Hungary is a bit of a wine country (not as renowned as say, France, but we do have some 22 wine regions in our tiny little country) and RA is a wine connoisseur, a bottle of wine was an obvious choice.

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I decided to go with a wine that was lesser known, but at the same time, internationally recognized. I ended up with a 2011 Cuvée.

Chocolates were another obvious choice. I wanted to get him something that you can’t really get outside of Hungary.

So, I ended up with this:

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It’s a marzipan praliné with alcoholic cherry filling– very. very nice, indeed! I particularly liked the box because it features an image of our most beautiful bridge, the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), which was designed by an English architect, Adam Clark, in the mid-19th century.

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I had to test it, of course, because I didn’t want to give our man something that was less than top quality!

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What else could I add to my RA gift list?

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My young sister-in-RA, Brigitta and her family make their own EXQUISITE strawberry jam every year from fresh Hungarian strawberries.

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This year they were kind enough to make a batch for me. The idea came to me that I should bring Richard a jar of it. Brigitta was very sad that she couldn’t come to the UK and see the play with me, so I thought this way she could be part of the experience.

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Of course, I wanted to put a nice label on the jar. However, I’m the world’s least creative person and have never designed anything in my life before.

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Luckily I found a website (www.jamlabelizer.com) that allows you to design your own personalized jam label and so I ended up with this:

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 I really do wish I could have come up with something a LOT wittier and funnier, but I was pushing the boundaries of my creativity as it was.

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Since I wanted a label with some kind of reference to the time RA spent in Hungary, Sir Guy seemed the perfect choice!

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(Brigitta insisted that I put my name on the label, even though I had nothing to do with the preparation of the jam itself. She said she would refuse to give me permission to even give the jar to Richard unless my name was on the label. What could I do but give in?)

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I also wanted to write him a letter.  I started writing it in my head from the day we booked the tickets,  actually. But none of those thoughts ever saw the light of day in the end. That’s probably the only regret I have about the whole experience: I wish I’d have been brave enough to write that letter–or at the very least, a card!

~

So, here they are, jam and bottle of wine –safely delivered to London on the 26th June!!!

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Coming up: Part 3 Viewing The Crucible (Three Times!) and The Stage Door Experience with RA! Stay tuned . . .

Part 1 of Judit’s “Crucible” Odyssey: A Hungarian RA Fan ‘Seizes the Day’

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Part 1 of Judit’s “Crucible” Odyssey: A Hungarian RA Fan ‘Seizes the Day’

Dear friend Judit, aka the Hungarian Honey, was lucky enough to not only see RA perform live as John Proctor in “The Crucible”–she saw him three times, and once from the front row!  Now that she has pretty much regained her equilibrium after meeting HIM she is sharing her experience with us here at TAE in installments.  Now, Part I of Judit’s own “Crucible” story . . . with lots more to come!  Thank you, Judit, for dishing all about your experiences with us. You rock!

 

I know RA had talked about going back to theatre often, but when he moved to NYC I had given up hope that it would happen (yeah, my usual optimistic self taking charge again!), and I thought if it were to happen it would happen on Broadway…

So, I was very sceptical when the rumour first surfaced about him being in talks to star in a play in LONDON!  Especially as the source was the Daily Mail and we all know how reliable they normally are.

 

In any case, a few days after I first read about the rumour, I joined the Old Vic’s “friends” circle (there’s a yearly membership fee in exchange for which you get a tiny discount from ticket prices, you don’t get charged booking fee when booking online, plus you get newsletters and, as it turned out, I also got a Crucible flyer in the post some weeks later). I thought, “I had better be prepared IF the rumours indeed turn out to be true!”

 

And then…all of a sudden there it was–a confirmation of Richard being cast as John Proctor on the Old Vic’s website! Needless to say, the Armitage Army “fell upon the online booking system of the Old Vic like an ocean” (to paraphrase John Proctor!).

 

 

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For the first time ever in my life, I found myself in a virtual/online queue!! I think I was about 300th when I first logged into my account and clicked on ’book a ticket’. Luckily, I had someone to share the excitement with – I phoned Helen in London, so we basically “queued” together, she in London and I in Budapest, watching our respective numbers go down to zero.. There was an awful lot of OMG-ing and exclamations along the lines of “can you believe this is happening??” (all this was made more awkward by the fact that I was at work, and this whole scene was witnessed by our accountant and a student who was doing her work experience with us – good job neither of them speak English!).

Helen and myself decided to go for an early date in the run, as we were afraid that RA might miss some dates later on in the run due to Comic Con in July or ITS premiere in August…

And, we were very lucky to score first row tickets for the 30th June…!

Later on, when I booked my flight tickets to London, I was more and more tempted by the idea that if I was going to spend five days in London, why not go for more than just one performance??

In the end I just couldn’t resist;  I booked a ticket for 27th June and then, yet another for the evening performance of the 28th..

I know it sounds excessive but I was thinking, who knows if I’ll ever have the chance to see RA perform live on stage again?? Why not make the most of my time in London??

Yes, of course he might do another play in a few years’ time- but who knows where I will be then? Whether I’ll still have a job by then? And my health?

 

So I decided to just seize the day–and I went for it!!! Boy am I glad that I did!!!

 

Next chapter:  preparations!  (coming up soon!)

 

Richard interviewed on “Breakfast Show.” Mr. Spacey, if you can film that much, why not . . .

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Richard appeared on the Breakfast Show on the Beeb and Marlise kindly posted it for the Anglophile Channel. He discusses The Crucible and the various elements attracting him to the production; they also touch on his work in The Hobbit and being directed by Andy Serkis, as well as Into the Storm and the challenges of an American accent. RA is thoughtful and gracious as always, and looked smashing, but what really intrigued me . . .

. . . was that snippet of video from the production itself. Because this got me thinking. If they can manage to shoot those scenes, why not shoot the whole thing? I know we are already asking for this–a DVD of the performance, that is- by petition and tweet and email and maybe by smoke signal, but seeing that footage really seals the deal for me. Thus far, from all I’ve seen and read, The Crucible is very much a hit. The critics who matter love it and audiences seem to be downright mesmerized. Wouldn’t those who have attended love to have this performance preserved on DVD as a wonderful memento of their experience?

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And (hint, hint) wouldn’t all of us who can’t possibly get across the pond or around the world to see this play LOVE to get our hands on it? I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, honestly I don’t–but please, Mr. Spacey, please—consider producing a DVD of The Crucible. I am completely convinced it will be a moneymaker for your theatre, which, I am also certain, could use the monies raised.

Now, I am not one of the fans with abundant disposable income, but unless you are planning highway robbery, I am certain I can come up with the funds to purchase such a DVD. Yep, if I can purchase a copy of that rubbishy epic Cleopatra in order to ogle RA in a toga and Caesar cut, I can definitely do this.

To paraphrase Sting in the old Dire Straits song, “We want our, we want our, we want our DVD . . .”

THREE Five star reviews; Armitage may need some tea and honey

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“Richard Armitage, though sounding a bit vocally strained, admirably conveys Proctor’s mix of muscularity and guilt  . . .” From the Guardian’s review of The Crucible.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/04/the-crucible-review-old-vic-london

Like so many of you, I was following Servetus’ posts last night, Press Night for “The Crucible,” reading Tweets and feeling both eager and anxious about any forthcoming reviews from the papers. I knew Richard would be good in this role before hearing word one from any audience members during the previews; I have this sort of child-like belief in him, in his acting prowess and his determination to always bring his best to a performance.  And I saw how much intensity he was projecting even in the still photos from rehearsals.

Still, it was with tremendous relief and a great deal of pride that I read glowing reviews from two of the publications that, shall we say, matter (sorry, Daily Mail, you aren’t one of them). To see Richard get praise for his performance and Farber’s production awarded five stars by both the Times and the Telegraph was—well, it was as exhilarating as RA’s performance was to one of the critics!

But now I am a bit worried about those vocal cords.  Dearest Richard, please take care of yourself and that honeyed voice of yours. Hot tea with lemon and honey, perhaps? Restrict yourself to a whisper when you are off-stage? You have many more performances to give, and I don’t want anyone to miss out on your powerful, passionate portrayal of Proctor . . .  now, more virtual ((((hugs)))) from me, your ardent admirer from Alabama! XXOOXXOOXXOOproctorrighteousanger22completebellow2cropbwedit

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Judit, Helen & Richard: “My hands were shaking . . . Helen *did* go a bit gooey”

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Our long-time reader and devoted Armitage admirer Judit has now seen “The Crucible” three times–and says she is still wrapping her head around it all now that she’s back home in Hungary.  Here are a few things she has shared with me, along with photos from her visit to the Old Vic and meeting with the lovely Richard Armitage at the stage door. The photos were taken by another long-time reader and fan, Helen, who shared her thoughts about RA and the performance in a previous post.  Fedoralady just had to do some playing . . . 😉 Oh, and Helen’s back, too. 😀

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Judit in front of one of the posters at the Old Vic holding a program for The Crucible.

 

BELIEVE IT OR NOT . . .

“The weather in London was BEAUTIFUL!! With the exception of Saturday. But even then, the rain stopped by the time we got to the stage door, so we were VERY, VERY lucky. (Even though I read that RA  did stage door on a day when it was raining – bless this man!)”  

ON MEETING RICHARD:

“We may not have been in the presence of true greatness but we certainly were in the presence of genuine, unaffected kindness and sweetness. And he certainly makes me go gooey all over! My hands were shaking for minutes after we left the stage door!  And yes, the poor fellow almost had to double up to fit into the frame with me. And I was wearing heels!!! LOL (which I NEVER do!! Can’t walk in them).  I hope Helen will not mind me saying that she *did* go a bit gooey (maybe not all over! ;)) when he said “bless you” to her in that honey voice of his.”

To which Helen replied:

“Ha ha, Judit, you’ve caught me in my lie! And there I was thinking that I came across as a cool, calm and collected ice maiden!

As already said, in my heart I was convinced that one day I would meet Rich, and it wasn’t just wishful thinking but based on a logic of sorts: he’s always said he wanted to return to the theatre; if he did it was likely that he’d be in a London-based play; if he was in a London-based play there would be a stage door opportunity. And so it happened.

Thus, Monday night was the culmination of six-odd years of anticipation and hope and envy of all those that had already met him. And the “bless you” in honey, with shoulders touching, was electrifying, especially when I fully expected a hoarse raspy voice so soon after the bellowing.

So… six years… so I had a sort-of out-of-body, wtf?, what just happened?? reaction. Poor old Judit had to take me by the elbow and gently guide me to wherever we were supposed to be going – couldn’t tell you, but I think it involved getting some water from somewhere and getting the train from somewhere else.

But by the time we were on the train and body and mind had reunited, I saw the episode for what it was: a charming encounter with a warm-hearted, but very normal gentleman.

And Judit’s hands WERE shaking like you wouldn’t believe!!”

We can believe it, Helen, we can believe it. Thank you for sharing, ladies!

 

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Helen on “The Crucible,” Acting & Meeting Richard: “Shattering . . . Towering . . . Chill”

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Dearest Helen (Wydville) aka my RA Fairy Godmother from London  (I have several of you scattered around the world and bless you all!) got to see our fellow this weekend in The Crucible in one of the preview performances along with dear Judit (aka my Hungarian Honey). I think Judit is still trying to wrap her head around it all . . .  Helen emailed me this morning with her interesting and honest observations and reflections on the overall production, Richard’s performance, the stage door experience and some other thoughts about acting and favorite actors, Shakespeare–and Richard’s feet. She kindly gave me permission to share this with you all.

(Being a writer, I could not resist weighing in myself–my thoughts are bracketed in bold letters while Helen’s words are in italics.)

 

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THE PRODUCTION

Helen:

1. Our seats were, I felt, pretty much the best in the house. We were front row and inches away from the actors [you DO realize how envious we all are of you, don’t you? Thank goodness we all love you around here . . .]

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2. The performance is shattering. I found the direction a little self-indulgent and some of the devices inexplicable, but it is very physical, very powerful, very intense, very atmospheric. I can’t wait to see what the critics make of it. [Me, too! I want to hear from someone other than fans and theatre bloggers . . . eager and anxious all at once!]

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3. All performances are strong. Rich gets increasingly better through the course of the play and in the final scene he is towering, in every sense of the word. I wept.  [feeling a lovely sort of frisson here reading Helen’s words] Standing ovation even before he came back to take his bows.

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4. Fangurls in total minority. Unlike Coriolanus *starring Tom Hiddleston*, vast majority of audience proper theatre-goers. Many middle-aged couples in suits and theatre-going attire. [ah, and these “proper theatre-goers” gave him a proper standing ovation, too. I think this bodes well . . .]

STAGE DOOR

Helen:

Afterwards it was all very low key. Orderly queue at stage door. Everybody beautifully and decorously behaved. [Does anyone else wonder if it would be the same–as mannerly and well-behaved–if this were a NYC audience? Just thinking of some past incidences . . .]

Some of the other actors came out first and a few of us chatted to Jack Ellis who plays Danforth. He was in no hurry and happy to sign autographs and natter for a few minutes.  Judit has seen the play three times and she says each time was like seeing a different play; well, it’s still in preview and Farber is tinkering[ So, will the critics see a substantially different production than the one seen early on by preview audiences? A shorter production?]

 Jack Ellis confirmed this in our chat. Speaking of whom, we just found out this morning that he’s Robin Ellis’ brother! Of course, when I looked him up, I recognised him instantly. He’s one of those actors that’s been in everything but has never made it big time. [FYI Robin Ellis is the original Poldark from the 70’s TV series]

 

When Rich came out, there was no hysteria or giggling. He was clearly in a hurry to get through the autographs and be gone but he was still courteous, sweet and obliging. He just came down the queue signing away, posing for photos, a quick word here and there. His voice is… honey. I said something about “shattering performance” to which he replied, “Aw, thank you; bless you.” It was all so understated and… chill, I suppose. [His legendary “Zen-like calm,” perhaps?]

It’s funny: I’ve waited six years for this and it all felt just so… understated and inevitable. So accessible. No biggie. Rich is no superhero, no wonderman, no awe-inspiring giant; just a big bloke with a sweet nature. The bloke who lives next door.

 

[funny, this is what I’ve said all along. RA himself reminds me of the boy next door. The really nice, polite, hard-working boy next door who is good to his mama and toils away at his chosen profession, which just happens to be a very high-profile one. Oh, and he’s rather good looking and charming, too].

THE MORNING AFTER MEETING THE MAN

Helen:

I don’t feel as if my life has changed… What I think I’m trying to say is, if you ever have the opportunity to meet him, great, it will be sweet, but it’s not as if he’s Nelson Mandela; you won’t have been in the presence of true greatness. And yes, he’s a handsome man, but in the flesh he doesn’t make you go gooey all over! After all these years of anticipation (I always knew I would meet him), it was just… very pleasant. [well, I would say that beats it being a crashing disappointment.]

I’m going back next Monday . . . Don’t know how I managed it but I even have the same seats [Lucky devil!]

Agzy will be there, next to us but one. Maybe Rich won’t be in such a hurry this time and we can exchange a few more words and maybe I shall be able to actually look him in the eyes. Somehow, even though this is what I’d really waited for, it didn’t happen. All too quick.

[Inquiring minds want to know: will looking him in those sparkling baby blues make Helen feel as if she is in “the presence of greatness?” 😉 ]

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE PHYSICAL SPECIMEN HIMSELF

Helen:

One last thing: natural hair colour almost auburn!! Well… chestnut. I bet he was blond as a child. Good arms but losing it very slightly round the midriff. Huge feet but not pretty, I think he’s slightly flat-footed. Very big hands. Generally a big man and bulky around the shoulders and back. Amazing voice and when he shouts….   [I bet people sit up and listen!]

Another thought:

With reference to his Telegraph interview (which, incidentally, I found to be the most thoughtful and insightful one he’s given to date), I have no trouble believing that a genuinely angry Armitage on the rampage would be quite terrifying.
[I totally concur. He’s a big, strapping, strong guy capable of great intensity. I really wouldn’t want to make him angry . . .]

Helen added these thoughts in another email. I really appreciate her inner fangurl striving for objectivity here–and I hope you do, too.

I’m trying to divorce my subjective emotions from impartiality. Let’s face it: Rich is no Ralph Fiennes (more of him later). In the first half he was good; not brilliant, but good.

But I felt he became progressively better in the second half – he owned John Proctor – and by the final scene you could see the torment, indecision, guilt all through his face and body. When he started coming to the realisation that he was about to betray the truth and all those people who had already consciously gone to their deaths you could see the revelation in his face and his eyes: it was a supreme performance.

As I think about it, I believe it was so powerful because he was so still and he does “still” so, so well. [ oh, yes, he does. As observed by Sir Peter, too]

Possibly Farber made him move around too much in the earlier scenes and it was a distraction. He’s such a big man and when he’s on the move, especially aggressively, he overwhelms the tiny stage; it’s almost grotesque. It’s certainly frightening. I found myself pedalling backwards in to my seat more than once.

Coriolanus is one of those plays that doesn’t get too many airings and I was completely unfamiliar with it. Having seen it with Hiddleston I was prompted to watch the Fiennes film. Play: good – if a little too minimalist for me given my prosopagnosia (face blindness) and the doubling up of roles.

Hiddleston’s performance: overall worthy and in some scenes inspired, especially in the “Mother what have you done?” scene. Film: Oh Emm Gee! Stupefying. Fiennes: Astonishing, terrifying; one of the most riveting performances it has ever been my privilege to see. If you haven’t seen it, you must!

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that movement is the key!

 

Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing this amazing experience with us!

 

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Now I’m imagining RA milking cows. New Yahoo interview.

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I have a treat for you later–the thoughtful and candid review by our own Helen (Wydville) after seeing “The Crucible” for the first time and briefly meeting RA last night, along with some of my own thoughts . . . but my wrist situation requires me to give it some rest for now. 

In the meantime, a new interview at yahoo.com about The Crucible with quotes from RA and his director, Yael Farber. Turns out he not only visited Salem in preparation for the role, he worked with some cows. Who knew?

http://news.yahoo.com/richard-armitage-goes-hobbit-crucible-114419500.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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