RA & I

It has been a while but yet again I will try and breathe some life into this blog. Nothing posh, polished or even intelligent – just me ranting on about things I like or move me… And what I have been meaning to write about is… Richard Armitage!

I’ve been a Richard Armitage well wisher for 8 years (yes, because of North and South… I came across the DVD about a year after it originally aired…). This year came the wonderful opportunity to see the man himself in action, on stage, in London. I live in The Netherlands, not that far away… and so off we went, my husband and I! A weekend alone without the kids was a rare treat as well, that we relished… But I am here to write about seeing the play and especially seeing Richard Armitage and even briefly getting to meet him afterwards!

The play was “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. I had never read it or seen it before, but goodness, what an excellent play it is! And I’m not just saying that because of Richard Armitage…. We went to see the play on Saturday evening, July 19th 2014. We got there half an hour before the play, enough time to pick up our tickets at the box office, buy a poster and pose in front of the theater for a picture.

Then we went inside. The theater is basically a round area with the public seated all around. My husband took a picture before the play started.The decor looked magical.

So, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller about the Salem witch hunts – it’s a play about how a community becomes hysterical with accusations of witchcraft. He wrote it as a parable condemning McCarthyism in the 1950s. The central character is John Proctor, a farmer who finds himself at the center of accusations and must figure out what his part will be in all this: stand fast to truth or be swayed to lies and accusations. He’s really an ordinary man, very imperfect and to the last you don’t know what choice he’ll make: will he save himself with lies or will he die holding to the truth? The play really struck a chord with me. It feels very relevant for me today as well (with islamophobia in the Netherlands being one example). Oh, how I wish people would learn to accept that everyone is different and nobody should be ostracized for it! Anyway, back to the play…

The staging of the play was simple and very powerful, the acting was so so good, not just Richard but all the actors. My husband & I were really blown away. It was quite long too, the first half was just under 2 hours, the second half about 1.5 hours but never ever a dull moment, it gripped us from start to end. Wow. My husband said it was possibly the best stage production he had ever seen and yes, it’s right up there for me, together with Les Mis (that I had seen in London last year – a dream come true). Oh, how I immediately wanted to see it again! Luckily we will be able to – just yesterday I read that the play will be filmed! In any case, the play got a standing ovation in the end, it was truly so very much deserved

(This picture is not ours, but one I found somewhere on the internet – sorry, I can’t remember where!)

After the show I headed off to the bathroom and when we came outside after and went to the side of the theater to the stage door, there was already a whole line up of fans waiting for Richard! We queued near the end. Some guys from the theater were making sure that everyone lined up against the theater wall so they wouldn’t be standing in the street. Not soon after we got in line we heard the one theater guy say to the other to close the line off not far after us. Felt lucky that we were on time! We were standing next to some fans from Germany, we exchanged a few words. It was a pleasant atmosphere.

It didn’t take long and then we saw movement at the front of the line near the actual stage door and sure enough there in the distance was Richard. Everyone was really well behaved, no hysteria or screaming, everyone waiting their turn but there was a real air of excitement. He moved up the line pretty quickly and it was pretty dark so we didn’t get very good pictures (plus our camera/flash is too slow), but something is better than nothing, right? He stopped for pictures now and then and was very focused on putting his signature on anything that was held out to him.
I have this little self made poster of “North & South” that’s been hanging on my bedroom wall for many years now, I had taken that with me to get signed. My husband said he’d try and get my theater ticket signed.

Although Richard was moving up the line quickly and signing up a storm he was – I don’t quite know how to describe it properly – he was still and very calm, almost shy. Diffident maybe.

It seemed like just a few minutes before he came to where I was standing. I handed him a little gift bag with Dutch gifts and said “I would like to offer you a little gift from the Netherlands”. He looked at it and smiled and said “that’s very kind” or something like that. He took it and a guy who was helping him out took it from him again (he also was holding some other gifts other people had given). I think I complimented him on the play as well, but I can’t remember.

He was already looking around again for what to sign next. I thought I detected a small smile when I held up the North & South poster but maybe it was my imagination. There was no time to really talk, as he was hell bent on signing stuff and after 2 performances that day, I think he must’ve been so tired. Anyway, after he signed the N&S thing (he didn’t say anything about it), I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him. He said “yes” and “where do you want me to look?  I pointed to my husband with the camera. We posed for a moment, the flash didn’t go off but my husband said it was good, I said “thank you” to Richard and he moved on. My husband then held out the ticket to be signed, which Richard did. The program was underneath that for support and for good measure Richard quickly signed that as well before he moved on (we hadn’t planned for that to be signed as the cover is dark and he was signing with a black pen – his own pen, by the way – didn’t need to use the one I had with me).

Really, it was over almost before it had begun, it lasted all of 30 seconds I think. I had been totally calm and levelheaded, but when he moved on I found myself shaking a bit. Anyway, he went on for about another minute or two. People started to line up again but when he got to the point where the theater guys had earlier said the line would end, he was whisked away and quickly returned back to the stage entrance and was gone…

So, impressions of seeing RA up close and personal after following his career for 9 years:
Everyone is always on about how tall he is but I think my husband is slightly taller! Not by much, they compare pretty evenly height wise (and looks wise too! My husband too is tall, dark albeit with less hair and handsome with a beard). I would’ve enjoyed to have a “sandwich” picture with Richard on one side and my husband on the other, but alas, that opportunity did not arise. I was already thrilled to be meeting him at all! Anyway, Richard didn’t seem that tall to me, but then again, I am used to being married to a tall man. He also seemed more slight than I had imagined him to be. He is muscular (in the play at one time he took his shirt off and it looked nice and toned, but not washboard bulky – I loved his strong looking arms) but not really huge. I loved his calm and friendly demeanor. My husband commented on that as well, that he seemed so calm and gracious and graceful, not phased by the people about him. He never lingered to talk (don’t blame him after two very intense shows, a matinee and an evening show) but was very focused on giving everyone the signature or picture they wanted. Really, the only thing that could have been improved upon were the lighting conditions, it was really pretty dark outside that stage door.

The signed loot. 🙂 Signature on the programme is hard to see & upside down,

Anyway, it was short but very sweet. I have by now framed the poster and my signed ticket with it.

I still mean to read the play. I had debated with myself about whether I should read it beforehand but in the end I’m glad I didn’t. I think the impact of that play was bigger because I only knew roughly what to expect but not the whole of it. My husband & I were really blown away by it. Also, he was so supportive of my fangirling and so pleased for me that I had gotten that N&S poster (and other things) signed. Plus, he was happy with the play, so for us as a couple it was a great experience as well. :))

I am very much looking forward to seeing the (filmed) play again, on download video…  It will become available on http://www.digitaltheatre.com

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