Seven years of The Crucible

Yesterday Richard Armitage tweeted this…

… and I can relate to the feeling old statement. It doesn’t feel like seven years ago that this play was staged at The Old Vic in London and that I went to see it during ‘the summer of love’, a term coined by some Armitage fans at the time due to the outpouring of love for this production and for Richard during that summer run. The Crucible gave me a lot personally as well.

By the time I traveled with my husband to London in July of 2014 to see The Crucible, I had been an Armitage fan for 8 years. I was a solitary fangirl at the time, eagerly slurping up Richard Armitage news and discussions on message boards and on certain blogs, lurking but never jumping in myself. During that summer, Servetus on her blog very helpfully kept a running commentary on all stage door encounters that were shared online, hence making it really feel like a summer of love for me. Check out the archives on her blog for June – September of 2014 if you are curious to see pictures of fans with Richard and read fan reports.

In tandem with this trip I had also been wanting to jump in to blogging on my own blog for a long time. I had started this blog with a single post in 2013 but didn’t know where to go from there as I didn’t want to write a single issue blog, so I stopped again. I was feeling especially inspired by some other Armitage blogs I also read (like Guylty’s blog or Herba’s blog and some other really great blogs that have alas gone silent over time, but popped up again partially during last year’s online blog reunion, see this Twitter hashtag).

Anyway, during this summer of Crucible love I started to feel the pull to also share my Crucible play and stage door experience. I was just a bit iffy about the public attention, i.e. worried that if I did get active, I too would eventually be caught in fandom spats as I had seen happening from the beginning of my fangirling days. I wanted to share but I didn’t want the drama, real life was busy enough. Then in September of 2014 I finally decided to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing, I just jumped in and wrote about my Crucible experience. With that post, really, this blog was born. Richard Armitage in The Crucible and the fans’ enthusiasm had pulled me over the edge and finally got me blogging. I didn’t announce anything about that post anywhere and it wasn’t until a few months later that this blog even started getting any traction but the slow start suited me well.

Not only did The Crucible get me blogging, it also, very importantly, led to my first personal encounter with Richard Armitage whom I had admired from afar for all those years. I can still remember the excitement while meeting him and handing him a little gift and exhanging a few quick words with him. Alas my camera failed that evening (also it was dark outside that stage door) and the pictures are all grainy but I don’t mind so much as the memories are all still there and really do not feel like 7 years ago! I am forever grateful to Mr Esther who helped me get my Crucible booklet and ticket signed and my little North and South poster as well that I had brought from home.

He also took this picture of me with Richard (I look a little manic!), which is now still the lock screen of my phone before I unlock it to reveal Mr Esther and our cats.

What The Crucible also gave me was a renewed admiration for Richard’s acting talents. I’d not been a huge fan of Robin Hood and Spooks and while I did love him in The Hobbit, I longed to see him do a great role without prosthetics. And boy, did I get that with Richard as John Proctor…

Mr E and I were both quite blown away by the production, by the cast and especially by Richard in it. We were mesmerized throughout and feeling quite shaken and drained by the end of it. My husband, who has always been supportive of my fangirling hobbies but always benignly from a distance, was just as much in awe as I was. Richard Armitage on stage is a wonderful thing to behold, he has a big presence there, he feels large and powerful, and when we met him at the stage door after the play he suddenly felt slight and almost shy. He must have felt competely drained.

That Crucible experience stayed with me for a long time (still very much alive in my mind and heart when I finally posted about it a month and a half after I’d seen it) and I was pleased when it was announced that the play would be filmed. When it came to the cinema in early 2015, I took my mother to see it and she too was very impressed. So much so, in fact, that for my birthday two months later she even gave me a watercolour painting she had made of a Crucible scene. It is now hanging above my signed Crucible ticket and poster in our dining area. That painting became my blog header and I also had a phone cover made of it that Richard Armitage even signed a few years later at the Newcastle International Film Festival.

I am glad The Crucible made me able to share some fangirling with my husband and even with my mother and I credit Richard as John Proctor for giving me the push to set me off on this blogging journey that I have really been enjoying these past almost 7 years. The play has been an important catalyst for me and I have loved revisiting it again and again over the years. I still think it is one of the absolute best things Richard has done in his career, he would have really deserved that Olivier Award he was nominated for at the time.

Long story short: happy 7th anniversary to The Old Vic’s The Crucible production, I’m glad you were made.

More Richard favourites

Michele added a second part to her Richard Armitage favourites challenge (and Armidreamer also participated). When I start a challenge I usually mean to finish it (see my answers to the first part) and so here it is. I needed to think on my answers for a bit and they may still sound rambling but that’s because these are not questions I necessarily think about a lot and so I don’t have any clear cut answers either. Anyway, for what it’s worth, my two cents (or two hundred cents, given the longish answers to some of the questions)…

1 You get one day with Richard what would your itinerary consist of?

Where would this day be? In London? So much to do in London! Like go for a walk somewhere (Hampstead Heath, the South Bank, Banksy walking tour, etc.), stop somewhere for scones and tea, maybe check out a (flea) market or an awesome museum like the Portrait Gallery. Dinner in Chinatown and spend the evening at the theatre or in the cinema, followed by a nightcap somewhere in a pub.

If he came here to The Netherlands, I’d take him on a little bike tour, walk through Utrecht (or really any of the old towns with canals, like Leiden, Delft, Gouda), make sure he ate some raw herring, take in an art museum (Amsterdam has some really famous ones with Rembrandts and Van Goghs), have dinner somewhere nice, preferably outside, in the evening go to the improv English language comedy club Boom Chicago in Amsterdam (gosh, I should go there again anyhow, haven’t been in 25 years or so! For American readers, Seth Meyers spent some time doing stand up there).

Either any of that or we just spend the day reading and puttering around the house or in the garden, before an evening out to dinner, theatre, comedy club, whatever. I’m not really particular, I’d give him options and let him pick or maybe he’d have ideas that I’d never think of.

2 What book adaptation would you pitch to Richard to star in and why?

Nope, nothing I could think of at first. Another romantic (preferably offbeat) hero would be nice after all the action and murder stuff he’s done, but I have no specific book heroes in mind. But then something did suddenly spring to mind! Speaking of an offbeat romantic hero, and a comedy to boot: he might be lovely as Don Tillman, the genetics professor with Asperger’s syndrome in The Rosie Effect. Don is sometimes compared to Gregory Peck in looks, I think Richard could pull that off too.

3 Richard has a charitable heart what cause is near and dear to you that you would ask Richard to support?

Human rights / the plight of refugees are usually closest to my heart, so organisations like UNHCR or UNICEF, SOS Children’s Villages or War Child. Those are big names and big organisations. Supporting something smaller and more local for children’s rights or refugees or the homeless or food banks would be fine too.

4 What flaw of Richards would you like to see him work on?

The need to please everyone.

5 Which of these ill fated characters did you relate to and why: Lucas North / Raymond DeMerville / Daniel Miller / Thorin Oakenshield

I can relate to Daniel Miller in that he grew up caught between two cultures but that never was explored deeply, just mentioned, so no real journey to follow him on there. Of these characters, I liked (and therefore related to) Thorin Oakenshield best, the fierce, honourable protecter of his people, trying to find a home again.

6 In a scavenger hunt where the end destination is your home what three clues would you give Richard to find you?

I’d need only one clue to guide him to the town I live in: Dutch cheese.

7 What three words would you describe your interest in a fandom?

Information and enthusiasm in my own quiet niche.

8 John Thornton embodies______________

Honesty, fairness and love.

9 What’s your favorite item of clothing that Richard wears?

Costume or private life? Again, I’m not very particular about his clothes, I’d be more particular about how his hair looked or whether he has a beard/stubble or is clean-shaven. As the question is about clothes, I will say that I really liked his look in The Crucible, especially that black coat turned up at the collar…

I like him a bit ruffled in a simple dark shirt…

…he cleans up nicely in a suit too…

… and I’m very partial to a turtleneck as well…

10 Complete this sentence: “I’m a Richard Armitage fan because he________________”

…. feels like a kindred spirit, more so than any other actor I know.

That’s all, folks! 🙂

The Richard mask

We are going to the most southern point of The Netherlands next week to a rented self-contained cottage for our holiday and we plan on going for outings into Belgium and Germany as well, maybe even drive to Luxemburg for a day. We know the mask rules are stricter in those countries than they are here, so Mr Esther wanted to order a few extra face masks to take with us on holiday. He is a heraldry geek and ordered masks with the coat of arms he had once designed for himself and had registered as his own…

(Yeah, his ‘Corona beard’ is getting long!) He ordered them in three designs but as they came in a set of four, he had a special mask made for me as well. Ever supportive of me and my fangirling, he ordered a mask with the painting my mother had once made for me of The Crucible

Here is the mask in more detail..

Pretty cool, right?

Masks here in The Netherlands so far are only mandatory in public transport, not in other public spaces. Restrictions here aren’t as tight anymore and this week the news came that Covid 19 cases are on the rise again. It won’t surprise me if masks become mandatory here in public indoor spaces like shops and restaurants as well, which means I may be using this mask far more than just our holiday. So, Richard Armitage on my mouth and nose – not a bad way to walk around this summer.

Armitage DistRAction Challenge #2

Continuing on from here, this is part two of Guylty’s Armitage distraction challenge.

ADC2020

Doing all the rest of the questions (14 – 25) in one go.


14. Most annoying character?
Gosh, wrecking my brain here but not many characters annoy me. I like them or I don’t like them (for instance I hated that awful Percy guy in Marie Lloyd) but annoy? Had to think on that and then came up with Richard’s most recent character, Dr. Astrov in Uncle Vanya. I was very annoyed with his treatment of Sonya in the play, where he was leading her on and then pulling away. There were even gasps in the audience at one point at how he treated her. Yeah, annoying as hell!


15. Favourite quote of a character?
I suck at remembering quotes but after a little digging in my brain, one does spring to mind by Harry from The Vicar of Dibley:
“My visit here tonight could actually constitute a third date and therefore you would in fact owe me the sum of one kiss… with tongues…”


16. Saddest character death?
Thorin Oakenshield. Broke my heart.


17. Favourite century?
19th or the present… both are fine for me…


18. Your consolation show, i.e. the go-to show when you need distraction?
North and South for yearning romance, The Vicar of Dibley for a laugh.


19. Theatre or small/big screen?
Tough pick. What I want more than anything is a good project and the medium matters less to me. I do want access to that medium, though!
I adore Richard’s presence in the theatre, but such a performance, and the feeling of actually being there and witnessing his abilities live, is so fleeting. Fascinating and almost overwhelming, but fleeting.
I love the big screen to get a good close-up view of a huge Richard but that too is fleeting.
The small screen projects tend to be longer term and are great for seeing Richard develop a character over time.
So, I’ll happily partake in any (visual) medium on offer but in the end I guess I want everything on the small screen in my own possession for endless rewinding and studying over and over again.


20. Best costume/look?
I actually loved his John Proctor look in The Crucible.


21. Imagine your favourite character – assign them a colour, a scent and a chocolate flavor?
Who to pick because I really like Harry and the three Johns (Thornton, Porter and Proctor) but in the end I guess I’ll pick John Thornton because he was my first love.
Colour: grey, as Milton is a grey, industrial city and John’s life seems a bit dull and grey until Margaret comes into his life.

Scent: roses (yellow, for obvious reasons).

Chocolate: as long as it is heart-shaped and in a red wrapper, the flavour doesn’t matter so much. It’s all about the deep love John feels for Margaret.

heart shaped chocolate


22. Your favourite audiobook?
Audiobooks, not for me. But I did really enjoy what was more of an audio play called The Martian Invasion of Earth. Richard just voices that one character (one thing I don’t like about audiobooks is one actor doing all the characters in different voices) and can play off his co-stars. That sounded awesome to me and the story was exciting.

Martian Invasion Richard Armitage


23. Your favourite piece of fan art you own?
Yeah, said this before: the painting my mom once made for me of The Crucible. I made a phone cover that Richard even signed for me a few years ago in Newcastle! And the image graces the cover of my new phone now as well (plus it’s been the header for this blog for quite some time now).

IMG_0039


24. If you had the opportunity to meet RA, what would you like to talk to him about?
Life. His youth, his relationship with his parents and brother & family, his true feelings about the work he does and the people he works with, difference between living and working in the US and the UK, his home life, books, movies, music, social issues and maybe even touch on politics. We could talk for days, make sure we laugh a lot too and drink loads of red wine.


25. Anything you dislike about the fandom?
Hero-worship (seriously, he’s just a guy) and drama which has always been around and always will be, I guess. I try to keep away from drama (so far I’ve been pretty successful with that) and just stick to my thing.


And voilà, the Armitage DistRAction Challenge 2020 is complete! Thanks for the fun, Guylty!

Armitage DistRAction Challenge #1

Guylty has a new Armitage distraction challenge up on her blog and in these times of home isolation due to the Corona virus I have a little bit of extra time. I started this yesterday evening, work has slowed down a bit today, so, yeah, I can’t resist finishing this post now. Here are the questions…

ADC2020

For a moment there I thought: do these all have to be Armitage related? Because otherwise for question 1 the first answer that pops up in my mind is Anne with an E; I’m still fervently hoping for a renewal there! But yeah, I guess this is an Armitage challenge, so I’ll just stick to Richard. I’ll be doing this in two parts, as most questions aren’t that difficult for me and I can do quite quick answers.


1. Which series would you like to have seen a sequel of?
I think that would be The Vicar of Dibley for me. Harry and Geraldine had such a whirlwind romance and wedding, I so wonder how they would settle in to life together! I’m sure there’s enough comedy to be mined there.


2. Which film/series do you think is underrated?
Hmmm… seriously, I think that would have to be North & South. While it is loved and very popular for many, I don’t think it has become the household period drama name that it should be. For me it should be up there with the legendary 1995 Pride and Prejudice. People in my real life will have heard of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy but no one I know in real-life has heard of Richard Armitage as John Thornton (except for a few real-life friends & family I have told about Richard and fandom friends).


3. Your current favourite show?
I think I’m still stuck on North and South for this one too. It’s the show that converted me to Richard-ism and while Richard has done some really great things since and I love his acting, I think N&S still remains my fave. Everything came together in that one for me: period drama, social issues, great characters and a heart breaking love story with a wonderful conclusion.


4. What’s your favourite episode of your favourite show?
Episode 4 of North and South. It has everything.


5. Least favourite episode of your favourite show?
I don’t know! Parts of North & South episode 2, possibly, that I sometimes fast forward?


6. Which question would you like RA to answer in a Q&A?
Dear Richard Armitage, how about an off-beat (romantic) comedy for a change with you as a sympathetic lead? I really don’t think you’re too severe/scary for that. Or anything a bit light-hearted, really, that doesn’t involve spying or murder or war (I still mourn the loss of Rockin’ Richard). These moments from Ocean’s 8 convince me you’d do it beautifully:

Yours sincerely, Esther.


7. What’s the best scene ever?
Look back at me… my heart broke and it was that moment when I definitely fell in love.


8. Which audiobook would you like RA to read?
Yeah, I think most readers here will know by now that audiobooks aren’t my thing. It’s great that he does them but, for me, he doesn’t need to and I have no preferences. I do like pictures such as these, though! So, for that alone, he can do all the audiobooks he likes as long as Audible keeps on releasing pictures of Richard reading.


9. Which show did you think you wouldn’t like but you did?
I can’t ever watch it again because it is too bloody and brutal for me, but that would have to be Hannibal. I was surprised at how good I found Richard in that and the story, though gruesome, was good too.


10. Which show did you think you would like but didn’t?
Into the Storm. I kept on comparing it to Twister, which I did like at the time, and Into the Storm just fell short for me. Also, Richard’s American accent really felt off to me.


11. Which episode did you watch more than 5 times?
All North & South episodes, Richard’s Vicar of Dibley episodessome parts of The Hobbit, some of series 1 Strike Back, parts of The Crucible. I think I’d do re-watches of Urban and the Shed Crew as well, if it ever becomes available to the wider public!


12. Favourite kiss?
I think, going by previous answers, you can guess?

But I loved The Crucible kissing too!


13. Favourite season finale?
Sounding like a broken record here, but yeah, North and South. See above, question 4.


Yes, there is a big lack of Robin Hood, Berlin Station and Spooks. None of them were bad (although BS season 3 was), but none of them could ignite my fire either. Also no mention of  The Stranger.  It was a show I liked well enough, more than the other three I just mentioned, but I can’t completely fall in love with it, due to too many red herrings and the ending feeling a little off to me. I am craving something new of Richard’s that I can totally fall for. Urban and the Shed Crew came pretty close (despite imperfections), but I only ever saw that the one time at the Newcastle International Film Festival.

Part two of this challenge will follow in time. 🙂