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.

Yes you can, Digital Theatre!

I haven’t heard back from Digital Theatre after the e-mail I sent two weeks ago and a second reminder e-mail I sent last weekend. The reminder e-mail was sent on September 3rd but the automated reply I received stated they’d be closed for the Bank Holiday on August 28th. Another Digital Theatre whoopsie…

What’s even sadder is that e-mailing them doesn’t get a response; maybe tweeting at them will? As Perry suggested here on her blog, a tweet storm at them might be good! I’ll just go ahead and do my little part, I’m tired of waiting for DT to respond adequately! I will include this blog post in a tweet at them. Should anyone care to tweet as well, I suggest that the line “@DigitalTheatre #TheCrucible #fixit!” and also #RichardArmitage be included in any tweet and then add whatever message of your own that you wish to include.

So, Digital Theatre, let me reiterate the point YET AGAIN:

For me, The Crucible is one of the best things Richard Armitage has ever done. I saw it in the theatre, was blown away by it, and was so pleased that it was filmed for Digital Theatre! As an Armitage fan I was so happy to be able to get back to it again and again, the very reason why I purchased it for life in the first place. Oh, and I didn’t just purchase it, I also paid to see it again in the cinema; I took my mother to see it as well, so that’s another extra ticket sold (and the painting she made in tribute is now my blog’s header image)! I think I have paid more than my fair share for The Crucible to Digital Theatre by now.

Crucible posters

I was promised free access to my property forever after purchase. When after only 2.5 years this promise is changed (after offline viewing has also been made impossible earlier this year), my trust in Digital Theatre as a keeper of my property goes down the drain. I see on your support site a message that gives these two options:

DT 'offer'

On the one hand a free subscription is offered but how long will it be free? Just for the initial 6 month period that was originally advertised or is it free for life? What guarantees are there that the subscription will indeed be free for life?

The second option is to “manually apply the previous purchases to your account”. How does that work? So, I still need a Digital Theatre account to access my purchase? Is this what is meant by the long-term rental option you had mentioned in an earlier statement that I now can not seem to find anymore? Let me just say that ‘Long-term rental’ doesn’t do it for me! Rental, long-term or not, suggests I don’t own it anymore.

So, when in the near (2.5. years) or far (25 years) future some new policy is made, for example my free membership is revoked or my account is blocked for some reason or if Digital Theatre unexpectedly should go bust, how will I then be able to access my purchased copy of The Crucible? I hope, you can understand my hesitation in accepting these solutions you offer? I therefore ask you, Digital Theatre Support, to please support me as your customer and send me my own HD copy of The Crucible (mp4 download or a DVD/Bluray would be fine).

I’m only asking for something that is already supposed to be mine… And while you’re at it, please send me my copy of Much Ado About Nothing as well, with David Tennant and Catherine Tate; I had purchased that as well 2 years ago…

I’m counting on you to do what’s right, not only for me but also for all the other Richard Armitage fans out there who have purchased The Crucible  (and/or other productions) so they can see it forever as well. I’m sure there must be a way, Digital Theatre… yes, you can!

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).

657000936

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

The Crucible @the cinema

Last summer I saw “The Crucible” on stage in London, yesterday evening I invited my mother to come with me to see it in the cinema. She didn’t know the play, when I talked about Arthur Miller writing it, she said “Oh, the man who was married to Marilyn Monroe?” 🙂 3679I was sure the topic of the play would interest her and when she asked me what it was about exactly I found I could hardly describe it in a sentence or two! I mean, sure: witch hunts, Salem, 17th century, but what more to tell her without giving too much away? So, she only got very rudimentary information from me and I think she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. She walked into the cinema mildly curious and totally ‘innocent’, she walked out of the cinema as a Richard Armitage as John Proctor fan! So, the lights went out and sadly some people thought that would be a good time to enter the cinema – it was very annoying to have people walk in front of the screen when you don’t want to miss a second. I remember loving the opening of the play with Tituba walking in circles and chanting. It had immediately transported me to another world last summer in the theater and I didn’t want to miss that. I think my biggest disappointment was that the chanting and walking was hardly shown in this film! They used a more cinematic way to transport you to another/darker world with overlaying and slow motion images and yes, that did work (once the people who arrived late finally settled down) and looked good, but I would still have liked to have seen more clear images of Tituba’s walk with her dragging steps and the chanting. Apart from the disappointment in the opening, the film very much lived up to what I hoped it would be! I think I sat through the whole thing with my eyes open wide, trying to take it all in and trying to never miss a heartbeat. This film is seen through the eyes of the filmmakers, so you can’t always choose what you look at – the choices have already been made.  Admittedly there were a handful of moments when I wished for a more overall view than a close up but the close ups were also what made this very special: I was able to see so many nuances I had missed in the theater. Characters I had not noticed quite as much in the first viewing, like Reverend Parris (especially in the second half of the play) and even the small role of Marshal were more noticeable for me. Last summer the most memorable performances were to me John and Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail Williams, Reverend Hale and Deputy Governor Danforth. After last night I have to add the character of Mary Warren to that, Natalie Gavin gave even more of stand out performance than I had remembered. Wow. So, the audience I watched this with – we were in quite a large screening room and I think about 3/4 of it was filled with people, many of them foreigners (I heard a lot of English-speakers around me). During the first half (especially the first act) there was a regular crackling of wrappers. People chuckled in places and gasped but as the play went on, it got quieter and quieter. I think people just forgot to eat or drink! Or maybe it was just me, shutting myself off from anything else, concentrating on what I was seeing on screen. The 10 minute intermission before the last two acts (I took a picture of the screen, see below) brought an almost rude awakening. I know it took my mother and me a moment to adjust to the ‘real world’. 20150204_220604 I loved that the intermission was short, you were drawn back into the second half almost instantly. Especially during the last act I don’t recall hearing anything, it was as if everyone was collectively holding their breath or at least that’s what it felt like to me in hindsight. When the screening ended it was deadly quiet, no one said a word. I couldn’t say anything either and when I looked to my mother she was lost for words as well. In muted tones we all made our ways to the exit and only when we were outside the room did my mother start going into superlatives. She thought the story was very compelling, she had adored the acting, she loved the simple look of the play, she loved the girls and especially Abigail and she loved the costumes. What she went on about most, however, was Richard Armitage. She said he was absolutely amazing, his acting was astounding, he had kept her guessing to the end and by the end she had a lump in her throat. She thanked me several times for taking her to see this and now wants me to send her some images from the play as she feels the urge to paint them! I had worried about whether, as someone who barely knows Armitage, she would like this play and this version of it and I was so happy to find out that she did. Apart from all the performances being so very good, there were some stand out moments for me…

  • Abigail and Proctor alone in act 1
  • Elizabeth and Proctor alone at the start of act 2
  • Abigail and Mary at the trial. The defiance and hatred in Abigail’s eyes and her determined chin and Mary trying to faint, not being able to, and turning against Proctor after all.
  • Elizabeth’s interrogation at the trial and John’s reaction at the end
  • Thunderous Danforth at the trial and a Danforth in act 4 where an edge of self-doubt seems to creep in but he suppresses that
  • Reverend Hale who has become a quivering mess
  • Elizabeth talking to John in act 4 trying to convince him he really is a good man and whatever choice he makes he’ll remain a good man and John’s struggle with that
  • John Proctor giving Danforth a hard time about signing the confession
  • John’s and Elizabeth’s kiss at the end
  • Oh, and at the very end when the audience applauds and the whole cast comes on stage, they zoom in on Richard, and you can still see the emotion and the tears in his eyes… I had not seen that from my seat in the theater last July…

OK, I realize that these points almost make up the whole play. 😉 The film experience is somewhat different than the actual stage experience and the one does not take away from the other. The stage pulls you in and you can choose which bits and pieces to concentrate on when watching. The film pulls you in and you get close ups of characters that you could not see while in the theater. Robert Delamere and Digital Theater have done well! Both experiences are immersive, each in their own way, and both have an almost overwhelming effect. I really want to see it all again and I wonder whether seeing it on a small screen will have a similar impact…