No mp4 of ‘Crucible’ or other plays

We can bury the dream of a ‘hard copy’ of The Crucible or any other plays that are viewable via Digital Theatre. R, the friendly professional support lady from Digital Theatre, got back to me very promptly after my e-mail to her yesterday. Here is what she said:


Good Afternoon Esther, 

You are most welcome! I’m glad to hear that you are feeling better. Our backlog certainly is dropping, so I’m relieved to say that we can once again give our customers the level of care and attention you deserve.

Unfortunately we cannot offer mp4 downloads at this time due to our agreements with the creative owners of the productions and the theatres. However, we would certainly like to offer offline downloads again in the future. 

All the best, 
R.


I’m glad their backlog is dropping, which means that more fans are getting answers; that is a great thing! The “offline downloads in the future” are a bit of a sticky point, however, and I mentioned that to her in my reply. Other than that, this long-term ‘rental’ thing is the best we can hope for, for now. I sincerely hope our trust will not be betrayed in the future. Time will tell.

In the mean time, I am happy that I can still enjoy Richard Armitage in this…

And I still have the stage production of Much Ado About Nothing to enjoy as well…

Now, if only they made actual mp4 downloads or DVDs/BluRays available of these theatre productions, I would totally buy them in the future! For instance, I would love a copy of The National Theatre’s Jane Eyre play as well…

There really is a market for this, if only the theatres, producers and companies would work together and take into account that customers like options and freedom to choose how they want to view and acquire these plays! Of course, I get the need to keep control and to combat pirating, but once it’s out there, you won’t be able to stop that anyhow. Maybe it’s time for some new earning models (don’t know what kind yet) to assure that creative owners and theatres get the revenue they deserve while still giving the audience easier & affordable access to productions that they can actually really keep if they want to. I guess we are all pioneers in a digital world, trying to figure this stuff out.

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A Crucible decade ahead of me

So, yes, Digital Theatre finally got back to me! I’m not sure whether it was because of this tweet I sent to @DTHelp yesterday evening…

… or whether they finally got around to my e-mails that I had sent. In any case, the response was connected to my ticket number and here is what it said:


Good Afternoon,

First of all I would like to offer my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. There has been quite the backlog of requests with the introduction of the new website, but we have some good news for you.

If you log into your account, you will now see that you have access to your previously purchased productions. To access them, please navigate to Account > Purchase History and click on the title of the production you wish to view.

You may notice that your productions are listed as rentals in your purchase history, but please do not worry. They are available for you to watch for the foreseeable future will be automatically renewed by us when they expire in 10 years time.

I am sorry for any confusion caused. I hope you enjoy watching your purchases again!

All the best,

Name of Support Officer
DigitalTheatre.com


I checked my account, and yes, I can indeed access my purchases now! The expiry date is 10 years from now, which Digital Theatre assures me should automatically renew then.

DT purchases

I am very happy with this, at least I can access my productions again! However, this doesn’t solve the problem I have with not owning a hard copy of my purchase. I have replied the following:


Good afternoon!
I am very happy to have received a response from you. I have checked and I can indeed access my purchases now! That is a huge relief, thank you!
Is it possible to make my purchase also available as an mp4 download? I would very much like a hard copy of the productions as well, as I am a little wary of future policy decisions that could impact my enjoyment of these purchases.
In any case, thank you for getting back to me and I hope for you that the backlog of requests is getting smaller.
Kind regards,
Esther

I don’t expect them to do anything about that hard copy, but a girl’s gotta try, right? For now, I am just happy that I ‘have’ my purchases back. 🙂

MTA: Zan also got a response from DT two days ago, and in the comments section of my previous post about this issue people have been saying that they have also heard back from them. Not all problems solved yet, but at least something’s happening! It looks like they are slowly starting to get through their backlog… I sincerely hope so.

Jane Eyre in Leeds!

During my summer holiday we also were in Yorkshire and stayed not too far from Leeds. As it happens, the play Jane Eyre, staged by The National Theatre, has been touring England and was in Leeds at the same time as when we were there. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of my absolute favourite books, I think I have seen pretty much every TV and film adaptation, but I had never seen a play of it before. Naturally, I couldn’t resist it and, months before we even left for England, I had already booked my ticket for a matinée showing on a Wednesday afternoon. The kids lazed away at the campsite that day, Mr Esther chose to go to a museum and I chose to go see the play. And what a play it was! I loved it so much, that that Wednesday evening I went online and purchased another 4 tickets for the Saturday evening performance, so that my husband and kids could see it as well.

The staging was simple: a wooden construction with ladders and a ramp that is used for many purposes in different house-settings. The top part is, for instance, used as the feared red room of Jane’s childhood in Gateshead, a school bedroom at Lowood school, or Jane’s room in Thornfield Hall when she is a grown up.

There was a cast of about 15 people, and every person, except for Jane, played multiple roles. When I told Mr. Esther about that after the first time I had seen it, he thought it sounded confusing, but it really isn’t. Each character is so different, it isn’t difficult to understand who is who. For me, that also goes to show how great the acting is – the actors just disappear into their roles. On the Wednesday matinée the understudy Phoebe Vigor played the role of Jane Eyre…

… and when we saw it on Saturday evening the regular lead Nadia Clifford played Jane.

Both actresses were very good but I do think that Nadia had the edge over Phoebe in her intensity of her portrayal of Jane. To me, she delivered a stand-out performance, along with Tim Delap as Mr. Rochester; Evelyn Miller, who played several roles (Bessie, Blanche Ingram and St. John Rivers!) and Paul Mundell who also played several roles (Mr. Brocklehurst, Mason and the very funny role of Pilot, the dog!). These pictures are from the programme booklet I had purchased:

Not only the play and the acting were phenomenal, the music was as well, with original music but also some adapted pieces of music and even a sort of on-the-road-rap when Jane goes travelling! There is a 3 piece band on the stage in the background and occasionally the musicians become part of the cast as well. The other stand-out performance was by singer Melanie Marshall who has a phenomenal voice. She is a Greek chorus of sorts who pops up during several scenes and is also Bertha Mason. When she sings “Does that make me crazy?” at the end as Bertha dies, it is truly a goosebumps moment.

Here’s a little featurette on the music of this production:

These following pictures of the play give you an impression of what it all looked like. There was Jane’s childhood, of course, in Gateshead, here with Mr. Brocklehurst examining her before she goes to Lowood and Jane’s travel by coach to said school/institution, which was extremely well done with movement and rhythm and stops for sheep on the road!

Costume changes for Jane happened on stage and she had to wear a school uniform, of course. The 3 band members also became students at Lowood, hence the bearded girls in these pictures below (click to enlarge). 🙂 The children keep warm by the fire at the cold school, Jane is punished and has to stand on a stool and she makes a friend named Helen and is with her as Helen dies…

Jane grows up and becomes a teacher, her growing up illustrated by her change in clothes when she has to start wearing a corset and pulls her hair back. She becomes a teacher and is at first happy but soon the dreariness of repetition creeps in and Jane feels boxed in. She advertises and then leaves Lowood for Thornfield Hall to work as a governess there, where she feels free!

She meets Mr. Rochester who comes dashing  by on a horse, with his dog Pilot accompanying him (Jane on the left, Pilot running down the ramp, Rochester on his horse on the right).

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017 Royal National Theatre

Rochester and Jane become acquainted and fall in love…

… despite the vain Blanche Ingram…

Jane Eyre (12)

After Jane returns from visiting her dying aunt in Gateshead, Rochester proposes and is accepted by an initially unbelieving Jane.

Jane Eyre (12a)

There is also the incident with the torn veil…

Jane getting dressed for her wedding happens on stage.

But then all dreams are shattered when the truth about Rochester and Bertha emerges and Jane has to leave…

Jane runs away from Thornfield and is finally taken in by St. John Rivers and his sister (only one sister in the play).

Jane Eyre St John Rivers

In the end Jane is able to return to Rochester and it is a beautiful, heart-soaring scene when they reunite.

Even though the play was 3 hours long, the story was still condensed. That did make me miss some things. For instance, Jane and Rochester falling in love happened so quickly, I remember missing some of the build up. At times Jane, though strong and steadfast, also seemed a little meek during the beginning of their relationship. Maybe if they had kept more of the dialogue of their initial conversations, I might not have thought that.

Also, as with pretty much all adaptations I have seen, the ending did not quite satisfy me. Of course, I love the Jane and Rochester reunion but there is more to the ending than only that aspect. A lot is made of Jane’s feistiness (I loved that, often made me think of my daughter, which is why I thought she might enjoy the play too!) and her independent will. In the book, Jane gains final independence through an inheritance and when she chooses Rochester, it is a real free choice and not something she has to do to stay out of poverty. The inheritance, however, is never mentioned in the play (even though her uncle in Madeira is!). She has 3 choices in the book: she can stay alone but is rich, she can go to India as a missionary and St. John’s wife, or she can find Rochester. She chooses the latter and when she does find him she is maybe more than his equal – she essentially is the one who rescues him, not he her! This rescuing of Rochester never comes out in adaptations and it never came out here either.  Yes, she loves Rochester in the play and choosing him was right, but her independence in making this right choice for herself didn’t quite come through here for me.

The ending of any Jane Eyre adaptation I have seen is always a bit of a sore point for me. No adaptation has ever shown it as it really should be in my eyes, with only the 2006 BBC mini series coming close to that. There were things wrong with that series too, but I liked the ending.

Having said all that, I still loved this play! I loved that all the stages in Jane’s life were represented and that it wasn’t only about the Rochester-Jane love story, I loved the intensity of the leads which brought me to tears several times, I loved the staging of it, how alive it felt, the humour and the drama.  Jane was the right amount of feisty and independent but was also invisible when she needed to be; Rochester was the right amount of gruff and world-weary, yet wounded.  Jane was small and nice looking but not too pretty, Rochester was tall and nice looking but not too handsome, just as they should be.

Originally this was a 4 hour play in two parts (shown on two consecutive evenings) that was later condensed to 3 hours for The National Theatre. I would have loved to have seen it in the original 4 hours, maybe I would have then not missed what I mentioned above. In any case, this was very much worth seeing and yes, my family enjoyed it as well! Here is the trailer again, it really gives a good impression of the feel of the play.

There are also some fun rehearsal pictures to share from the programme in which we see Pilot lying on the floor while Adele pets him and Rochester & Jane are talking, Adele showing Rochester Jane’s paintings and Adele playing with Pilot who has jumped onto Rochester’s chair (click to enlarge):

And another rehearsal picture I came across online:Tim-Delap-Nadia-Clifford-in-rehearsal-for-Jane-Eyre

As I was looking for images online, I saw that Nadia Clifford and Tim Delap had also visited Charlotte Brontë’s home in Haworth, with pictures of them in character around the Brontë parsonage. I find these pictures especially evocative, maybe because I have recently been there myself.

I think I have to rank this adaptation at the top end of my favourite Jane Eyre adaptations list! I haven’t seen a perfect adaptation yet, but that’s OK, what counts is that I loved this one, despite some of the faults. I was almost going to say that I wish it was available via Digital Theatre, but with the drama that is happening there now with ‘purchased productions’ I think I’m happy that they don’t have it… I do wish I could see this again, though!

To Digital Theatre re. ‘The Crucible’

Dear Digital Theatre Customer Service,

On the 18th of March 2015 I PURCHASED an HD copy of ‘The Crucible’ via Digital Theatre (I still have the e-mail receipt, see attached PDF file).

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At the time I was very disappointed that I wouldn’t actually be getting my own download copy (e.g. in mp4 format) for something I have purchased. I always fear buying something that can only be viewed on a certain website as I always wonder, “what happens if the website closes, how will I then access my property?” I was willing to take the risk with Digital Theatre because:

  • as an avid Richard Armitage fan, I so very much wanted to be able to access ‘The Crucible’ whenever I wanted to!
  • I had also paid to see the play live in London at The Old Vic in July 2014 and I was so very impressed by it, I wanted to own a copy of the play to re-capture the feeling I had had after seeing the play live.
  • This purchase also has a very personal meaning to me. It was something I know my father would also have enjoyed and it was a small consolation gift to myself just after my beloved father had died.

Now, to my surprise, I find that I will have to start paying a monthly subscription fee for Digital Theatre if I want to be able to continue watching ‘The Crucible’! I am flabbergasted by this suggestion! I bought something so I could own it forever, much like all the books and DVDs I have bought over the years. I could have chosen to not buy those books and DVDs and borrow them from a library, but my choices to purchase have been deliberate, just as my choice to purchase ‘The Crucible’ has been deliberate. I want to own my own personal library, so that I don’t have to depend on outsiders when I want to view or read something that has meaning to me.

A library or an online subscription service such as Netflix can chose to not carry a certain title anymore in their collection. That is why I don’t ever want to depend on them for my own collection, just as I had not wanted to depend on Digital Theatre for my own collection. Netflix or libraries never promised me ownership of titles and I am aware of that when I subscribe to them. Digital Theatre, however, has promised me ownership of ‘The Crucible’ and I chose to trust them with the assurance that I would forever be able to access my ‘The Crucible’ copy for free after purchase! I now see I was wrong to place my trust in Digital Theatre and it is a huge disappointment to me!

I take it that Digital Theatre wants to be the Netflix of theatre and it is a lovely gesture that the first 6 months of DT subscription are free for me as a previous customer, but I can’t afford to (and don’t want to) pay a monthly fee of 8 pounds after those 6 months to access my own property!

An easy solution would be to refund my money but that doesn’t solve anything for me! What I am instead requesting is that you make an mp4 download available of my HD “The Crucible” purchase so that I won’t have to worry anymore about being able to enjoy what I have actually bought!

I await your positive reply!

Esther

Cruciversary!

A year ago today, my DH & I were in London for the weekend, all alone, without the kids. The reason we were there? To see The Crucible at The Old Vic, which means that today is my 1st Cruciversary!

After the performance, which blew both of us away, we also met Richard Armitage at the stage door. It was over almost before it had begun but I was still able to hand him a little thank you gift and he signed some things for me. DH was able to snap a picture of me with Richard (quality not great but better than nothing):

RA & I

I look slightly manic but oh, what an experience it all was! I will remember it fondly forever!