I’ll admit it. After seeing some of The Old Vic’s recent promotional posters for its production of The Crucible (right) starring the exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage captured in stunning portraiture by photographer Jay Brooks–with Richard Armitage’s provocatively bare image situated front and center–I had a resurgence of urgently wanting to experience the play. I still do want to see the play in a live performance–however financially unfeasible attending the play is for me (more than a mortgage payment). But I live in the Midwest of the U.S.–almost half a world away. So I hope requests for a dvd of the production to be made comes to fruition. And/or, The Old Vic brings the play to Broadway in NYC–I would be there in a heartbeat!
And the prospect of seeing a bare shouldered Richard Armitage isn’t the sole appeal for my wanting to experience The Crucible in person. We have all seen Mr. Armitage’s bare shoulders and bare chest several times in film roles, when scenes required it of him. However, I grant you, that in person his bare chest might be altogether astonishing. Personally, I’m a fan of RA’s sculptural clavicle, arms, and shoulders. Michelangelo’s David has nothing on Richard Armitage. But I suspect that the bareness here is used to symbolize vulnerability–in that John Proctor is a man stripped of his façade of goodness who must now confront the world that seeks to condemn him with no protection to cloak himself in.
So it is the image of Richard Armitage’s face in character as the tormented and shamed (left) John Proctor in these posters that really draw me in. Even the seemingly defiant John Proctor portrait of Richard Armitage at right (cropped) hints at a gnawing fear growing within him as realization about his predicament takes hold. The set of his jaw, the intensity of his gaze, his body facing forward with the partial turn of his head toward the architect of his condemnation, betokening his incredulity about his fate, as well as, some possible self loathing on Proctor’s part for letting his lustful physical needs override his sense of right and wrong.
John Proctor is a classic tragic hero–someone we are rooting for, despite his transgressions. And John Proctor is literally damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t in The Crucible. In the end, he has nothing left, nothing but his own sense of dwindling personal dignity that will hasten his doom (Crucible quote below from IMDB via a link shared by Sueli) :
John Proctor: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
Sadly, the central premise of The Crucible is a story as old as humankind, wherein one group of people goes to war against another group of people–for ideology, land and territories, wealth, and power, etc. Though the play The Crucible is set in the time period of the 1600’s Salem Witch Trials, Arthur Miller also intended his play to be a commentary upon the McCarthyism Era’s anti-communist persecutions that swept the U.S. in the 1950’s. Seeing Richard Armitage portray John Proctor in The Crucible as the disintegration of a flawed but essentially good man caught up in forces that he cannot control is certain to be riveting storytelling.
And taking a classic of literature or theatre –such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible–and bringing it to an audience is what many refer to as transforming the work from page to stage. I didn’t coin that phrase, but it is apt as we see new images of Richard Armitage actually holding a script in rehearsals Iright)–no doubt marked up by him with stage directions for blocking/movement, vocal emphasis, and emotional arcs, etc. Performers develop their own shorthand in marking up the text/script–a playbook for performance, if you will, that years or even decades later serves as an echo of their performance, eliciting a memory long faded even as the script pages have yellowed and become brittle. And Richard Armitage has said that in doing research for his many roles, he also creates a notebook of his thoughts about his characters and their background–filling in details that help him with his performances.
There are also new images of The Crucible cast in rehearsals released today via the Old Vic’s Facebook page and shared in the RANet photo gallery– with Richard Armitage who portrays John Proctor and Samantha Colley who portrays his former lover and accuser Abigail shown rehearsing a scene together, and Mr. Armitage and Ms. Colley in a more raw dramatic scene, and finally, Director Yael Farber guiding her actors in rehearsals (below) that excite us with the prospect of seeing this play.
Preview performances for The Crucible begin this coming Saturday, June 21, 2014–and the play runs through September 13, 2014. Are you thinking about purchasing tickets to go see Richard Armitage and his cast mates in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible at The Old Vic in London, England? Well here is one further enticement, the brochure/flyer for the production below contains ticket information and such. I hope that you do get a chance to attend the play. And for those who do, please share your stories and impressions with your fellow RA Fans. Cheers!
P.S. As credited via the hyperlinks above, all images of Richard Armitage in The Crucible were kindly shared by the wonderful resource web site www.RichardArmitageNet.com Thanks!