Richard III won’t make me squee. Right?
For every correct answer, you receive an entry in a drawing to determine which of Richard Armitage’s JustGiving charities receives a donation of £91 (GBP); you can also win a ticket to the Richard III Foundation’s next conference and some King Richard Armitage Week 2012 stuff! The more questions you answer, the more chances to win!
whatever Richard III is a cure for insomnia
Today’s KRA Week 2012 post is from Phylly’s Fave’s, on the honor of having an August 22nd birthday. Turns out Armitage isn’t the only one!
Today’s questions were a bit more difficult. Are you having trouble?
To find today’s answers, I suggest googling and reading some of the places where Mr. Armitage has discussed the sources of his interest in the Richard III project — a good place to start on that question is the King Richard Armitage fan initiative, whose pages offer a ton of information on Richard Armitage’s connection with Richard III and lots of other good stuff. None of this should take you long.
But yes — googling is expected and encouraged. You can also tweet with your tweeps about possible answers. The more the merrier!
but still you say …
why should I answer these stupid questions
Richard III is boring yawn snore
For my answers to these objections, keep reading — and don’t assume you already know what I’ll say just because I am (yawn) a history professor.
[To some extent this post was triggered by something AgzyM said about not being able to find Richard III interesting. Can't find the link at the moment.]
[At left: GiztheGunslinger conceptualizes the appearance of Richard Armitage's Richard III. Source: King Richard Armitage Fan Art competition.]
I suspect a lot of people who know me in the fandom are a bit surprised at my choice to support the King Richard Armitage fan initiative. Mainly because I am a very strong supporter of the “Richard Armitage knows best what roles Richard Armitage should take to make Richard Armitage happy and successful” position and I’ve said that many times in many different ways.
Now, no one involved in this project wants to push Armitage to do anything, and the project has no connection in any way to Mr. Armitage himself. So why would I support a fan initiative that if, misunderstood, could look a little like a pressure group?
I think most people in the fandom assume it’s because I am a professional historian. And actually, Richard III isn’t that far off chronologically from my research interests. Still, I am focused on Germany and really, the history of the European continent in my period lies in a different world professionally. Thus, as I’ve stated, humorously, the only reason for me to think about Richard III at all has to do with my lectures. And as I’ve also said, a bit more seriously, I have zero interest in rescuing Richard III’s reputation. Historians don’t really go around saving people from the punishments of the past — unless there is some larger point to that, and in this case, there isn’t, unless our age develops its own reason to find the latter Plantagenets interesting. Additionally, I think that Shakespeare’s Richard III is an important piece of culture that needs to be preserved as is, and I doubt that anyone who tries to write about Richard III to make the opposite case now will be anywhere near as sophisticated as the Bard. Finally, I have never been one to argue that history is interesting on its own merits — or that everyone should be interested in all of it. Some pieces of history are justly and appropriately forgotten. We can’t remember and preserve everything — we need space to get on with our own lives — and to do that we have to clear out the unimportant debris of the past in our libraries, landscapes, and minds to make room for the important things.
[At right: Richard Armitage discusses his interest in realizing a new dramatization of the life story of Richard III with interviewer Lorraine Kelly on GMTV, October 3, 2007. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]
So if all those obvious reasons are off the table — no inherent interest in Richard III, no argument about history for history’s sake, why do I even care about the realization of Richard Armitage’s Richard III, in whatever form that happens? And why would I spend time blogging about it? Based on site stats when I write about Richard III, I know the segment of readers who care about this project as a proportion of all Richard Armitage fans is pretty small. I’d get a lot more mileage — and have — writing about Armitage’s trouser break. Richard III didn’t even wear trousers that I could write about.
The easiest way to put the most prominent answer I have to that question — I can think of several — runs the risk of making it seem that all I can do is parrot the line, “I want what Richard Armitage wants.” But I’ll put it on the table and explain it, and I hope that at the end you will understand why I think it might be of interest for fangirls — even those bored by Richard III — to support this project with a signature.
[At left: Richard Armitage, interviewed at ComicCon San Diego on July 14, 2012, uses his hands to help explain something. Source: The Hobbit preproduction vlog #8, cap from RichardArmitageNet.com]
As someone said recently, the incessant topic around which this blog turns with regard to Richard Armitage is the evaluation of possible consequences of the fact that we can know little to nothing reliable about him. We don’t know him personally, we don’t spend time with him, we have snippets of information from his own lips or keyboard or from the press, but its reliability and meaning are terminally suspect. As a consequence, when we’re loving on him, we’re mostly loving on some version of him we’ve created to suit our own needs by putting together the information about him that we like best. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; it is a fact of the human condition that we can never really know other people fully; but it should be acknowledged. We’re all looking for that information that will make him real. Thus, I suspect, a secondary reason why there’s so much squeeing in the Armitage fandom (aside from the obvious one, that he’s so good-looking) is that his body is something fairly reliable and fixed about him — in the way that the vast majority of the information we have about him is finally not.
OK. So now, reason dialectically (by means of contradictions) to understand me. I write a blog about how we can’t know Armitage. What does that imply about my desires with regard to him? Yes, it’s obvious: I want to know. I want to use the evidence I have to construct some knowledge. Even if I can’t.
So my answer about why I want Richard Armitage to achieve his Richard III project?
Because I believe that if I saw this project take place, I would learn a great deal more about his heart, mind, and soul than I have done so far in 2.5 years of reading about him and watching his work.
[At right: Armitage processes his environment -- one of the more intriguing pictures of him. Night before the 24 Hour Plays, Old Vic, November 2010. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]
When asked what he wants to do, Armitage always refers to two things — Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (somewhat less frequently) and his version of Richard III (pretty consistently). Maybe that will change eventually. But for now, it’s what he always says when he’s asked the “what would you be doing in a perfect world?” question, and his statements reveal that he’s been trying to interest various parties in his production for quite some time. I wouldn’t support this if it weren’t something he said; and if he starts saying he wants to do something else, I’ll think about that then.
But for now: more than anything else he’s been in, I think, a Richard III project would let us see the world through Armitage’s eyes. Because it’s his goal, a story that he identifies with on some level, and a story whose construction he has researched, and which he would decisively influence. No stupid scriptwriters to write crazy plots; no demands of the SAS shoot-’em-up operating here; no insistence on the presentation of beautiful Armitage or sexy Armitage. He’d play the role he thought most appropriate for himself — or perhaps direct it!
But you say — there’s that whole dreary dusty story at the base of it, he won’t be able to get away from that, nephews in the tower, my kingdom for a horse, death on a battlefield.
servetus squees for armitage’s body
servetus squees for armitage’s mind
servetus squees for armitage’s soul
And I say: what interests Armitage about this theme is precisely the thing that he’s always saying interests him about creating a character, the thing that made all of these other roles he played, whatever their structural merits or lack of same, so fascinating: the contradictions at the heart of an individual. Except: in Armitage’s Richard III project, we would have the chance to glimpse what Armitage sees as the decisive conflicts in a (late medieval) man’s life. And since historical views are always prisms for our own philosophies and convictions, what will we be glimpsing through Armitage’s retelling of the history and biography of Richard III?
Armitage’s worldview. Armitage’s mind. Armitage’s emotions. Armitage’s soul. In a framework where he would have more control over how to present those things than he has ever had in the past. Will it be perfect? No. But it will be the potentially most meaningful source I’ll ever see.
I’m probably never going to meet Richard Armitage; even if I should, I’ll never have the chance to talk to him in any meaningful way, and indeed, that’s part of why I’m not so eager to meet him. But, oh, as my name is Servetus and I confess I am a Richard Armitage fangirl, do I want to see those things. I want to see them badly. I want to see them much more than I do Thorin Oakenshield or a tornado-chasing English teacher or whatever next great thing he goes on to — may he live long and go on to many of them.
I want to see those things. It might be my own personal nunc dimittis. I want to see Richard A play Richard III. If that’s all I’ll ever grasp of the Richard Armitage behind the man I see on screen and in pictures and interviews — the actor who’s fascinated me and won’t let go, the one who’s become the object of my own fantasy of a fulfilled self — well, I think I could be satisfied.
Try the quiz out, it’s fun and great for charity!
You don’t have to sign the petition to play — but if you haven’t, why not?
King Richard Armitage Week 2012 continues at Fly High!
And look, because it took me so long to get this done, the Day 3 Quiz Questions have appeared. These are pretty heavy. I’ll drop you some hints tomorrow.