Thank you, Richard

I saw a Richard Armitage video clip on Servetus’s blog just now (thank you, Serv, for finding that!) that I just need to post here as well.  Richard, still with Uncle Vanya hair, speaking about working on Broadway, about how special that was for him, about the importance of theatre and about getting through this corona crisis.

It’s a short message, about his work but somehow also strangely comforting with his heartfelt words.

“The lights will come back on and we will be together again” and “For now be safe, be healthy and we’ll see you soon” were simple sentences that rounded off this little video perfectly. I wasn’t waiting or particularly hoping for a message from Richard during this corona crisis, but now that this message is here, I love it! This was exactly the balm I needed right now, today, this evening. Thank you, Richard, for cheering me up.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum

Before I go into a whole “Armitage fan experience in London” post, I’m first posting about something else I was able to do there. I had arrived in London last Sunday morning and spent a lovely day just hanging out and chatting with my brother and some with my niece.

Then on Monday I had the day to myself and I decided to finally visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. I had never been there and had always meant to go there one day. It was a good day to pick that, as it was a cold, dreary and very wet day. Picture taken from the bus I was on; the window was wet, it almost looks like an impressionist painting.

20200224_124333I got to the museum and somehow it seemed much larger than I had thought. I mean, I knew it housed a very diverse collection but this was much bigger than I had expected.

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I wandered around on the ground floor a bit, particularly liking the statues gallery…

… and then went in search of the café for something to eat. The old café was beautiful, but alas there was no space for me to sit there…

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So, I sat in the more modern section and really enjoyed my scone and cup of tea.

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Even going to a bathroom at the café was a museum experience with old tiles and fawcets bearing Georg Vth initials, which indicates they were somewhere from the beginning of the 20th century.

Speaking of royalty, on my way to the medieval section I passed the car Harry and Meghan had used at the end of their wedding day

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It was basically an ad for the vintage cars exhibition that was also on at the V&A but that I didn’t end up visiting.

In the medieval section I was struck by this early 16th century tapestry from Brussels depicting Queen Esther (she after whom I have been named):

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I also love looking at old books, like this early printed book from 1521, not long after the printing press had been invented.

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Some more nice vistas as you walk through the museum:

I have seen lots of medieval art and statues and the like in many museums over the years, so for me the high point of the museum was something I have not seen that much of: an exhibition on early photography. Even just looking at all those cameras before you enter the room was fascinating.

I was in awe seeing an early heliograph image of Christ carrying the cross from 1827. You can barely see the image but it’s there (click to enlarge)…

… and an 1840’s daguerreotype image of a collage of famous faces.

I liked this 1850s image. Imagine keeping that little dog still enough for long enough to create this image!

An early camera was on display…

And there were more fascinating 19th century images, with one image also of Alice Liddell, who was the ‘real’ Alice in Wonderland.

Absolutely fascinating, including some early 3D imagery you could see through this viewer but that I couldn’t take pictures of.

The other section I was fascinated with was the theatre collection (with a little movie glam thrown in).  The horse for the War Horse production was there…

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And other theatre costumes…

There was the Henry V costume as worn by Richard Burton…

And a costume designed by Dior for Vivien Leigh in a movie…

Vivien Leigh seems to have bequeathed some of her memorabilia to the V&A. The Oscar she had won for A Streetcar Named Desire in the 1950s was on display…

… as was a telegram addressed to Laurence Olivier (Vivien Leigh’s husband at the time) from Lillian and Dorothy Gish, movie stars of mainly the silent movie era, congratulating Leigh on her brilliant acting performance in Streetcar.

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There were more awards on display from other actors for other performances:

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And some music related memorabilia of David Bowie…

and Madness…

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This is just a tiny impression of all there is to see at the V&A and I saw way more than I took pictures of. It’s a great museum, very diverse and I by far haven’t seen everything. I may have to return there again sometime.

By the time I finally emerged from the musem at the end of the afternoon, it had stopped raining. I again took a bus, this time to Piccadilly Circus, and the view was somewhat less impressionist:

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I was off to go and meet Hariclea for evening theatre shenanigans at the Harold Pinter Theatre. More on that in my next post. 🙂

Richard on a Sunday morning

Richard Armitage in today’s Sunday Times:

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Is it me or is something off with this image? Richard looks a bit uncomfortable to me and something is off with his face, a little too smooth or too light or something? In any case, I do reallly dig the long hair and beard. 🙂

The article is behind a paywall, but if you have an account you can read an article for free every once in a while, which is what I did. I was going to screenshot it, but Servetus has already done that so nicely here.

Gotta say, I get a bit tired of reporters leading off with or emphasizing the “male totty, heartthrob” thing so much. Says more about the reporter than the actor, I feel. I’d never deny that Richard’s a heartthrob, I wouldn’t have been a fan for close to 14 years if I didn’t think he was a bit of a heartthrob, but I couldn’t love someone for so long just because he has a nice face. There are so many other tall, dark and handsome actors out there to love and yet he is the one I fangirl over. The man brings other qualities to his “male totty” moniker, qualities I still fail to understand completely myself, which is what keeps him interesting to me even when he does projects I don’t much enjoy. I wish that were more of a focus in articles, trying to understand what is beneath the surface that makes him so appealing. I guess this article is not that.

Other than that little gripe, I did enjoy reading this. There was a lot of not so new content, I felt, as we all know how he loves finding darkness in light and light in darkness and inhabiting flawed characters. I identify with the outsider-feeling and him enjoying his me-time, even though I already knew that about him. It was interesting to read that his grief informed his acting in My Zoe, and that apparently he has no designs anymore on Hollywood? For a little while there I felt like he did but his work seems to be taking him elsewhere and I really like that. Oh, and it’s sweet to read that he still seems to fanboy over Cate Blanchett.

My favourite part of the article is when he talks about playing Astrov in Uncle Vanya and doing theatre work, especially this part:

“Now I understand that people aren’t here to see their favourite actor doing something, showing off. That isn’t the point of it. The point is, I am there to help them feel something, so it’s all about them, not me. That makes it so much easier.”

I agree and disagree with that. I am, after all, solely traveling to London to see my favourite actor doing something! However, it is indeed not about the showing off for me, it is because he really is able to touch my soul and make me feel something. So, yes, fair point that he thinks it’s all about the audience but maybe he also needs to acknowledge that it is also about what he as a person brings to a performance. It’d be so interesting to delve into this more deeply with him.

Anyway, this Sunday is getting away from me and I have stuff to do! So, let me just end by saying I’m so glad to see some real Armitage content as that has been sparse of late. Here’s hoping Uncle Vanya will spark more!

Fangirling Armitage slump lifting?

In my e-mail I receive regular “London Theatre” updates and this was in my inbox today:

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That headline links to this article. Now, I know this news is a day or two old but this makes it extra official for me and it looks like I’ll have to plan another trip to London in January now! I think I read Uncle Vanya in high school but I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s about. Regardless, Richard back in the London theatre is something I can really look forward to! Finally something Richard-related for me to get really excited about again.

I know it can’t be helped due to the nature of the business but I don’t like getting excited over something that I’d really love to see Richard do and it then falling through. I recall that Edith Wharton Summer project that still hasn’t come to fruition (will it ever?), that musical that mysteriously was never to be and what happened to the priest project we heard of some months ago? I am sure I am missing more off the top of my head right now… and now there’s some mystery Korean scifi project he’ll be doing?

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I wonder if that will really happen? I’m not holding my breath quite yet but I also don’t quite know how excited to be about this. I do like how totally different this project is and I do love how the man seems to be challenging himself in so many ways.

I so want to fangirl a new Richard project but The Lodge won’t be for me and I still can’t make myself do audiobooks. I thought the first Castlevania was alright but haven’t seen the second yet. Trevor is animation and not Rich in the flesh after all. I haven’t done the newest Wolverine audio play yet either – again, no visual Richard. I like to have audio and visual Richard combined. I’m curious about My Zoe and I’m curious about The Stranger, which he’s filming now, but even those don’t have me over-excited yet. That little dad-dance he posted on Instagram from the set of The Stranger was fun, though, so that at least was a little excitement there. 🙂

I will eventually attempt Castlevania and Wolverine and I will watch all the other  projects for him and I hope they’ll be really good, but none of these projects, nor even the Korean scifi, makes my heart beat extremely wildly in anticipation. Let me be clear, I don’t begrudge him any of these projects and in everything he does, he’s always good! Also, this all makes him develop as an actor and become even better. However, these just aren’t projects I enjoy that much, I only watch them for him and not because I’d enjoy them independently from Richard.

Yet I still hold out hope for projects I can love, because even though the recent few years of Armitage projects haven’t excited me wildly (Urban and the Shed Crew excepted and that one is dead in the water as far as DVD release goes), the man for some reason or other still remains my favourite! Now finally, for the first time in a long time, I am getting excited again because Richard Armitage is coming back live on stage and within reach for me to go and see him! He’s co-starring with Toby Jones who I really like as an actor, he too is always good. Richard in a quality play, that really lifts my fangirl heart today. Here a little reminder of how good he is on stage: The Armitage in The Crucible

Yes, I’m sure I’ll be there in January 2020 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.

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…