Uncle Vanya is happenin’

So, it’s really happening, Richard will be on stage again in London at the beginning of next year for Uncle Vanya!

Saw this publicity picture for the production, which looks depressing but good:

uncle-vanya-toby-jones-richard-armitage-muse-creative-communications-photography-by-seamus-ryan-resizedAnd I really, really like Toby Jones, he’s such a great actor, so I have high hopes for this one! Toby Jones emanates empathy, he can give you real joy and sadness, he’s one of those actors that become the role and completely invites you in.

I think I read the Uncle Vanya play in high school (could also be mixing it up with The Cherry Orchard) but I remember nothing about it. So, I am looking forward to being re-educated. I also just found this short blurb of an article where Richard is interviewed and he says:

The 48-year-old said the role was one he long wanted to play, adding: “I’ve got quite a shortlist of roles that I want to tackle but this was just sort of co-ordinated with the production and that fact of me being interested.”

He said: “I lost my mum a year ago so I’ve never understood that deep, deep tragedy of this play until now. Astrov is about halfway through his life and I feel that. He is just starting to look back and think: Have I missed my chance at love? My chance to do something really significant with my life?”

I know that Toby Jones can do heartbreak really well and now with Richard’s added extra understanding of grief and his mid-life crisis thoughts, I think this can potentially reduce me to a puddle. Looking into tickets right now! 🙂

The London BTS weekend

My daughter and her friend are fans of the Korean pop band BTS and last weekend we were in London so the girls could go to their concert. It was stressful getting tickets a few months ago, but two tickets were secured and the girls were very excited to go. As a fangirl myself I was well able to empathize with their enthusiasm for BTS. 🙂

We flew to London from Amsterdam early on Friday morning. The girls wanted a pancakes breakfast (my daughter is the one with the ponytail)…

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… after which we boarded the plane and arrived at London Luton airport before we knew it. Took the bus to my brother’s house in Hampstead and met up with him and my niece. The weather was turning out to be gorgeous, so we had a picnic lunch in my brother’s garden!

The girls had heard that there would be some sort of BTS event at Piccadilly Circus at 6 pm, so we all went into town. We shopped a bit, then my brother and niece headed home again (my niece was leaving for the weekend to see her mum) and I went to Piccadilly Circus with the girls.  We got there just before 5.30 pm and it was crowded, as illustrated by these two tweets!

And also illustrated by my pictures:

As I can’t upload videos here, I made 3 gifs from a video I made of the crowd while we were waiting:

The fans are called “Army” (yeah, not the Armitage Army, though) and the atmosphere at Piccadilly was electric. Excited people, BTS chants, BTS singing and dancing. This tweet, while not filmed perfectly, does show you the joyful mood. It was filmed not far off from were the girls and I were standing.

Busses drove by and every time an open roof tourist bus passed, everyone started cheering and clapping and waving at the people on the bus, who were waving back at us. Someone on a bus filmed our crowd HERE and if you know where to look you can even spot me in the crowd with my sunglasses on. Anyway, at 6 pm on the dot a Hyundai commercial showed on the big screen, featuring BTS and everyone started screaming.  The girls were very pleased to see their favourites up on that huge screen.

OK, yeah, so it was much ado, apparently only about a commercial, but still it was really fun to be there. We watched the commercial on loop a few times and then left. As Wembley Stadium is on the same underground line as the station near my brother’s house, the girls on the way home decided to go on to Wembley and check out the merchandise store there before it closed at 8pm. My daughter sent me a picture of herself walking underneath the huge poster of her fave BTS member, if I recall correctly that is Jungkook…

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They bought tour t-shirts there and then came back home. Good thing they did, because the next day, on Saturday, they ventured into the city alone to find several BTS pop up stores. The one store had a  6 hour queue, the other store a 3,5 hour queue! They didn’t stand in line but did look on in amazement and also got to explore the city a bit on their own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (i.e. my brother’s house), we spent a quiet morning at home as I had come down with a bad cold. But I didn’t want to waste my whole time in London with sickness so I looked into theatre tickets (preferably matinee) for my brother and I.  I could have gone to see Hugh Jackman again as he was in London with his show for the weekend and I could have gone to see Muse do their concert on Saturday as well.  But, as tempted as I was, I’ve already seen the Hugh show (although, if I had a money-tree I would have gone to see him again) and I’m seeing Muse here in The Netherlands in a few weeks. In the end I was able so score last minute tickets to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, not far from Piccadilly. All I knew about the musical is that is has won many awards, is supposed to be funny, concerns itself with the Mormon religion and I had seen this video of the opening number…

So, on Saturday afternoon my brother and I were at the theatre, wondering what exactly was going to come our way.

… and boy, did we have a blast! I realize that the Mormon religion and Uganda, where the Mormons are sent to in the musical, are stereotyped and the language really is quite filthy at times but it was so very funny! We laughed all the way and when in the second half of the musical the Ugandan Mormons portray how they have come to understand the religion (due to very ‘creative’ missionizing from Elder Cunningham), I swear tears were running down my cheeks. It’s best not to reveal too much about this musical but if you like a spoof on taking religion literally that also doesn’t completely bash religion and is funny and uplifting, then go and watch this. I loved it.

Sunday was BTS day for the girls. My niece was back home again for a few hours before having to head back to her boardingschool, so we all went out to lunch. First time I ever ate a falafel burger, but it was good! At the end of the afternoon I accompanied the girls to Wembley, just so that I could see the venue for myself. The girls were wearing their new tour t-shirts proudly.

What I completely love about the BTS crowd is the diversity. People from all walks of life, all nationalities, all backgrounds were there, more diversity than I’ve ever seen in a pop or rock crowd. So cool! Dropped the girls off at the gate, I planned on going into the city afterwards but was feeling pretty bad so headed to my brother’s place instead. He was still out, driving his daughter to school. I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and the last scone that was still in the house…

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Switching through the channels I saw that The Battle of the Five Armies was on, so I watched that…

… then watched and chatted with my brother after he came home. We waited for the girls, who came home at around 11.30 pm, totally exhausted and totally euphoric about the concert. Near the end of the concert the fans had a surprise for BTS, where the whole crowd chanted one of their songs back at them. My daughter said that they had teared up as well at that moment…

… and they so want to see BTS in concert again. Apparently they announed they’d be coming again next year.

On Monday morning we all slept in. My brother was working from home, he took us out to lunch before we made our way to the airport again for our fliight back home. I had been less productive on my weekend due to not feeling well (and I’m still sick now, ugh!) but still had fun and the girls had a blast – the full BTS experience for them! It’s been so fun to see them fangirl. 🙂

Sea Wall & my London mini-break

So, I was in London this past weekend. The reason for going was that a close US friend of mine was visiting London with her family. Although I chat with K, and my other US friend A, a few times a week (we have a chat group), I hadn’t actually seen K in the flesh in 7 years! As she was relatively close by, I couldn’t let the chance of meeting up with her pass me by.

I flew in to London on Friday afternoon. After 3 hours of delays (ugh!) I finally made it to my brother’s apartment in Hampstead, just enough time to drop bags and freshen up a little before heading to The Old Vic theatre to meet up with Hariclea there.

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We went to see a short one-man, one-act play called Sea Wall, starring Andrew Scott (of Moriarty in Sherlock fame). Once we all entered the theatre, there he was pacing around on stage, looking around and waiting for everyone to be seated. I shot a quick picture, you don’t see much detail on it, but you get the idea of the set up…

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I don’t know how he did it, but without any announcement or anything, he just seemed to be looking around, the whole audience fell quiet and he started talking. Even from up where I sat, you could see the expressions on Andrew Scott’s face quite well. Shows you what an expressive actor he is! Andrew Scott plays Alex, who is telling us about visiting his father in France for a holiday. He speaks of his father and his wife and his daughter and just by him telling us all about them and the love he feels for them and telling us about the place they are at, you get this vivid image of what it must be like and of what life is like for him. He speaks with humour but there is an underlying restlessness and a foreshadowing you feel of something deeper and darker. The darkness becomes apparent at the end and yes, breaks your heart.

I really liked it, and thoughts and images have been popping up in my mind long after the half hour play ended. Pretty special stuff! I don’t know Andrew Scott very well, I only know him as Moriarty, but he has a long list of credits in the theatre. Hariclea was telling me how absolutely mesmerizing he had been in Hamlet last year and I can almost picture that! Andrew Scott is a great actor and I really need to see more of his work!
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Hariclea had brought a theatre-loving friend of hers along as well and the three of us went on to have dinner in a nice little Italian restaurant close by afterwards. It was a lovely evening in great company!

Saturday was filled with great company as well, as I finally got to see K again and her husband and two teenage kids. We spent the day at the British Museum, then went on to Covent Garden and in the evening met up with my brother for dinner in the Soho district. My brother suggested we have dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho (apparently they’re a small chain) serving Vietnamese ‘street food’ and we were not disappointed; it was good!

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After dinner we dropped the teens off at the place K was staying at and we four adults went on for some drinks and a chat in a pub across the street (just in time to see Germany score their amazing 2-1 victory goal against Sweden in the 95th (!!) minute in the Football World Cup). I can’t tell you how great it was to meet up with K again and it was fun to see her meet my brother, whom she only knew through my stories but now got to meet in the flesh. I so wish I could see her, and my other dear friend A, far more frequently!

Sunday morning I slept in and then had a small late breakfast in the garden chatting with my brother in the sun before we went to pick up his daughter (my niece) from her mum’s place. We got back and the three of us had a lovely lunch before I had to hop on the bus to the airport again. Time really does fly by so fast when you’re having fun!

I just love being in London. I’ll be back again next year at the latest, as I promised my daughter she & I would go there for a mama-daughter weekend (I had a mama-son weekend there last year, it’s her turn next). I was thinking of going in May but with Brexit, who knows how easy it’ll be to enter the country as a EU citizen? Maybe we should plan it sometime before March 29th 2019 but then the weather will be more iffy and cold than in May. There was a huge Brexit demonstration in London last weekend

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…and while we didn’t go there, I did see people aftewards here and there wearing anti-Brexit badges. I so wonder how an EU national’s enjoyment of England will be affected after March 2019…

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.

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.

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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.