Thespian Thursday: Digital Theatre’s Film of Richard Armitage in The Crucible will be Revelatory, October 02, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #642)

Attending a live theatre performance always gives me a thrill, you never know what will happen off script. Like the time I experienced the ever delightful Debbie Reynolds perform the lead role in the musical “Irene” on the road at the Muni Opera in St. Louis. It was the Summer of 1973, and I was but a lass of 13 years. But it was also the year of the cicada’s–large flying winged creatures that only infested areas every 17 years–and they were out in force. One cicada landed near a floor microphone near the front of the stage and its song was drowning out the performance. Ms. Reynolds did the only thing she could do. She stopped mid song–though maintained character–and walked over to the cicada and pointed at it boisterously. The dashing male lead strode over purposefully to her/Irene’s side, loudly stomped on and squashed the bugger (literally a bug). Ms. Reynolds swooned, “My hero” into the male lead’s waiting arms. The audience roared with applause and laughter and then the musical resumed. Priceless!

That is the kind of live theatre event that only happens by chance. And though actors hope that there won’t be mishaps, there sometimes are. Like the time I was in college and was doing an interpretive play reading with my partner at a speech tournament. It was supposed to be high comedy, so once again, I moved my hand dramatically to hit my forehead with the aTheCruciblePoster--RAasProctorGlaringSept0114OldVicFB-sizedback of my wrist. However this time, I had not accounted for the fact that I was wearing a solid gold band bracelet on my wrist–that connected with my forehead with such force that I literally stunned myself, and drew blood. Yes, folks, I might not have vomited or passed water as Richard Armitage confessed to doing in his bravura riveting performance as John Proctor in The Crucible during the Summer of 2014 at The Old Vic in London (image right), but I gave myself a mini concussion, and I bled down my forehead as my brain scrambled to collect my thoughts and get back to the scene.   Ah, what we do for art.

And though I was not fortunate enough to experience the exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage and the amazing cast of The Crucible in person, I will still have the chance to experience it–courtesy of Digital Theatre having filmed performances in the final week of the show’s run and editing them into a film to be streamed later. Though there are likely to be no “mishaps” revealed in this film–they had the luxury of editing out any that might have occurred–I am keen to discover what other revelations experiencing this production will have for me. Theatre and film serve to illuminate the human condition–sometimes reflecting it, sometimes suggesting what never was, sometimes suggesting what could be. In a world where honor and truth are fluid concepts, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible under the skillful direction of Yael Farber purports to crystallize the meaning of honor and of truth for us by illustrating their vagaries through the lives of John Proctor and his neighbors as their community disintegrates and lives are lost.

Several scenes in this production of The Crucible have been touted by fans and critics alike BBCBreakfastInterview--RichardArmitageTheCrucibleClip10-Jul1414GratianaLovelaceCapas powerful, moving, unsettling, or heartbreaking–none more so than what I euphemistically refer to as the cleansing scene. The description of the scene in which John Proctor, stands at his wash basin at the end of the day, washing off the day’s sweat and grime (Grati’s cap right), reminded me of the scenes of the coal miners doing so in the 1941 film How Green was My Valley. The coal miners had to scrub and scrub to get the black soot off of themselves, before they could feel human again above the surface of the Earth.

FilmingTheCrucible--RichardArmitageCleansingSceneBareChested_Oct0114DigitalTheatre-sized-decr-redBut for John Proctor, his need to cleanse his soul and purge his feelings of guilt go far beyond the cleansing properties of water. I sense that John Proctor’s vulnerability counterpointed by his commanding invigorating presence are illustrated by him doffing his shirt and appearing bare chested (image left) to complete his cleansing–a revelation that I will have to wait to confirm when I see the filmed stage production of The Crucible starring Richard Armitage.

At the end of the play The Crucible, the proud and honorable and commanding JoTheCrucible--RichardArmitageasJohnProctorCryingOut_Aug0614byJohanPersson-viaenikoniTweet-GLmask-sized-enl-quote2hn Proctor is stripped bare figuratively, if not literally, such that only his honor remains–or perhaps, is recovered–as his life will soon become a sacrifice to misdeeds by others, his world shattered and is in tatters, like his clothing, falling to pieces around him. Honor, truth, and justice–as I fear John Proctor discovers–can be lonely companions. But still, he tenaciously clings to these virtues (Grati’s wallpaper, right) as his lifeline.


I honestly don’t know how I will feel about watching John Proctor’s destruction when I view Richard Armitage portraying him in The Crucible. I will possibly be wondering that if John Proctor who had so much prestige and was so good–except for his lapse of adultery, and perhaps, the conceit of pride–could be brought low by unfounded accusations, what help is there for the rest of us ordinary folk who are just trying to be the best we can as we live our lives? Would I be able to withstand such a test of conscience? Would I be able to be strong against the pressure to betray myself and my principles to receive whatever meager crumbs of acceptance that those I hold dear might give me? And does redemption require a sacrifice that is too great to bear? And finally, will John Proctor’s example of courage and conviction bolster my own sense of self when I need it to, is a revelation that I perceive will occur for me when I experience the filmed version of The Crucible stage production.

About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
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20 Responses to Thespian Thursday: Digital Theatre’s Film of Richard Armitage in The Crucible will be Revelatory, October 02, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #642)

  1. Oct. 2, 2014–Thanks for liking this post!

    NYCPAT, LadyButterfly, April73, richardtreehouse (tree), anewcreation, obscura, and Servetus


  2. Kitty says:

    I think I read that RA didn’t want John Proctor to look like a man whose physicality looked like he had been to the gym every day but wanted his body to look like that of a man who did manual labor, farming, mending farm equipment, walking behind a mule, hacking out a living (not his words – I’m just trying to picture the life of a farmer at that time) by his own strength. RA’s body here (the shirtless picture) (I could just camp out on that phrase alone, but I’m trying to make a point ) reminds me so much of how my daddy’s body looked when I was growing up. He (my daddy) grew up on a farm (my grandpa was a share cropper), plowing rocky ground behind a mule; joined the army where he trained to be a mechanic on heavy equipment (tanks, earth movers, etc). I remember so vividly how he would stop by home for his supper, after his day job as a mechanic at a tractor dealership, then later in the county maintenance shop; he would take off his grease stained shirt and bow over a pan of cold water drawn from the well in our back yard (we didn’t have indoor plumbing) and splash some refreshment over his head and let it run down his muscular torso. We three kids would wait patiently while he washed and then he would turn his attention toward us, hold his arms straight out to the side – our invitation to loop our hands on his powerful upper arms, and then we would dangle from that wonder-filled man as he walked to the table and dropped us off at our seats where we would enjoy supper together before he put on a clean shirt and leave again to go to a local farm to work on a tractor or a piece of farm equipment; many nights he would return home way after our bed-time. That memory assures me that Richard Armitage morphed perfectly into the farmer, John Proctor. WoW! Just WoW!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SH says:

    I haven’t commented in a while, Grati, but I loved this post, and also Kitty’s comment.
    I think the questions you’re asking are exactly what we’ll be faced with, when we see it.
    I confess to both frenetic anticipation and some dread… even a little fear of letdown! – though I can see that Digital Theatre seems to be great at bringing us the “best seat in the house”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi SH,
      Thanks for commenting and your kind note about my post and about Kitty’s comment! Having read many wonderful reviews by fans–as one example, I linked Servetus’ in depth post about the cleansing scene above–and the official theatre critics, I am left in awe of everyone–and most especially Richard Armitage.

      And I know that when I experience The Crucible via Digital Theatre’s filmed version, that I will become immersed in the characters and what is happening to them–setting aside how I might feel or what I have read about a particular actor. I am very much trying to keep my mind open to form my own impressions.
      Thanks again for visiting and commenting! Cheers! Grati ;->


  4. anewcreation says:

    Not sure whether you have already read my last two blogposts about The Crucible but having read yours here I sense some of the questions you ask yourself on the last paragraph may be answered on my posts. Wonderful piece of writing by the way. Just as your muse got awoken through North & South, mine has been too through The Crucible. Only, I have a business and also kids and a home to run, so my passion for writing always comes last and as and when I have the time, which is not that often.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oct. 02, 2014–Vote for Richard Armitage in the 2014 BroadwayWorld UK/ West End Play/ Best Leading Actor in a new production of a play

    This is the results page showing Richard Armitage with 27 % of the votes–the most by far. At the top, click the click to vote link. Then enter your email address in the box at the top of the new window and vote. Yael Farber, Adrian Schiller, Samantha Colley, and Anna Madeley are nominated in categories, too.


  6. Kitty says:

    In response to your comment elsewhere that John Proctor’s biceps are “Porter worthy”:

    I don’t know, Gratiana. Maybe it’s just my own mental view, but I just cannot equate that specific body to JP, hence my observation about how much it reminds me of daddy’s hard-working body. He just looks like a man whose diet doesn’t consist of much more than the basic menu generally found on a self-sustaining homestead (eggs, salted meat, beans, potatoes, cabbage) and who then worked off every extra calorie. It’s more than weights and chin-ups, it’s endurance – walking for hours behind a mule, holding a plow steady when it hits a stubborn root or a gigantic rock; it’s felling trees and chopping firewood; the constant back and forth action of a saw or a plane on a piece of wood that will be furniture. It’s dragging his dog-tired body to the cart with the last load only to discover that the wheel is broken and must be repaired before he can go home and rest his weary bones, all the while attempting to calm his heart and mind over his adultery and the desire to put things right with his wife.

    I don’t know all the secrets of my own parents’ marriage and the ones I do know I’m not going to discuss here. Suffice it to say that their relationship was a troubled one and my sainted daddy stuck it out, keeping his family together in spite of the trouble. The weariness of his troubled mind was always written on his face. I see that same weariness in John Proctor’s face here.

    If there was an award for an actor for perfectly portraying someone so well that it stirs the kind of memories this one picture has stirred in my burning heart and made a huge lump in my throat with tears in my eyes, then Richard Armitage would win it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SH says:

      Kitty, I’m beyond touched by this comment.
      I have a feeling it’s one that would mean something to Richard Armitage as well.
      Thank you for sharing with us!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oct. 3, 2014
      Thanks for sharing your new lovely comments, Kitty! One never knows what memories or current situations a dramatic work and an actor might stir in us–or inspire in us as Richard Armitage inspires us with his heartfelt and transformative character portrayals.

      I have been touched by Richard Armitage’s character portrayals in so many ways. And I think it is because Mr. Armitage reveals the humanity and decency inherent in all of us–however faint such virtues might be in his antagonist character portrayals. And even his “good men” character portrayals–such as John Proctor in The Crucible–have elements of darkness lingering in the shadows.

      None of us are all good, and perhaps some are not all bad. There are influences and circumstances beyond mere personality that shape an individual, and who and what they become. But if we each strive to do better and to be better, then maybe the world will collectively and incrementally improve. Above all, Mr. Armitage’s character portrayals give me hope for the goodness in all of us. Just as Kitty’s father was an example of strength and caring for her.

      And even if our hopes are dashed time and again, we still need to cling to it–until our last breath stills. For hope, like love is everlasting. Hope and love are ours to believe in and to bestow–no matter what anyone else does. They are ours, and no one can take them away from us.

      Love & Hugs! Grati ;->


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