Happy Richard Armitage Fangirl Zone: What I’ve put together, watching from afar last night, as usual

If you don’t want to read about me, but about my reaction to Armitage, skip to II below.

I. Personal reflections about yesterday.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that I’m still trying to figure out how I want to fangirl best for fun and personal profit. As usual, this is kind of a meandering piece but I want to note this for myself as it’s part of the journey. I have a hard time changing behavior patterns if I think alternatves have a hope of continuing to work — I am change-averse–, so I need to mark recognitions that could be turning points (in that they lead to “no more of that” reactions).

It hasn’t been the best two weeks — on Wednesday, I almost had an argument with Pesky over the situation at work — and some stuff’s been going on with my dad and brother that I haven’t been able to bring myself to blog about (yet). So I didn’t start yesterday in the best place.  A conversation with my chair about what’s been going on. Another tussle between colleagues. Letters of recommendation to submit (the last for a while, I hope.) TAs to meet (I have extras this term because my classes are packed.) Lectures to get through.

As the day wore on, I found myself thinking about the whole question of preparing for performances. It’s really crucial, even essential, to me that I be “in the zone” when I enter the classroom, because one poorly executed class can put me in a bad mood until I see those students again. The last class of the week thus has to go well and I do what I can to get us all there. Professors with an interactive classroom style need to be very well informed about the topic and we need to be able to turn on a dime if the vibe in the classroom changes. It’s a combination of planning what should happen (but not rigidly, because if it becomes apparent that the plan isn’t going to work, I have to react to what is or isn’t happening) and being very open to the unexpected (in case it seems best to let the class go where it wants and come up with an alternative plan on the spot).

I’m definitely someone who overprepares in order to let go at key moments; I enjoy being in a position to do that and am frustrated when it doesn’t happen (I’m reminded of Armitage’s remark about the relationship of rehearsal of a play to a performance). So my ideal routine for preparing to teach / lecture requires at least two hours per class (often more). Obviously this isn’t always possible, but when I can manage it: First, I pray / meditate, usually “grant that we … neither run into any kind of danger.” Then, I make sure that I’m in total control of all the material I’ve prepared on the topic in the past. This means a review of PowerPoints (if any) and a reread of all the students’ reading, plus a reread of all notes on the topic that I’ve used in past lecture preparation. I rehearse stuff that I have a tendency to forget, especially dates. I’ve always sucked at dates. I look through the file of stuff that I collect to see if I have images to add. I upload media we’re using for the students. I make notes about how this material relates to wherever the last class ended (my classes always start with me asking, what did you take away from the last class and the reading for this class?) and jot down bullet points about questions to ask. (I try to ask a provocative question at the beginning of each lecture.) Then, for every lecture topic, I identify something I don’t know about the topic to read / learn as part of the preparation, so I take time to read, absorb, edit, incorporate, think (usually a new source or a new scholarly interpretation of a source, but sometimes a pop culture reference to the topic). Finally, I take a look out for the class after the one I’m preparing for in case there’s anything I need to set them up for. And I pray / meditate again for centering, balance, energy and good breath and stamina. Finally, I don’t go to class any earlier than I need to start the media platform. I’m happy to chat afterwards (though my concentration is usually shot by then) but no one talks to me before class. As the clock strikes I take a deep breath and smile and …

I lecture several times on Thursdays so I had to prepare, dump, prepare, dump …

Anyway, I was thinking in the context of Armitage’s reappearance on stage last night — I wonder if he has a pre-live performance routine? He may have, at some point, but he hasn’t been appearing on stage regularly in over a decade. There have been a few signs from the other live settings in which people have seen him (Wellington, London) that he experiences a lot of nervous energy beforehand. And he was seen in the audience, and also stage-right, and heard laughing backstage, last night.

Prepare, dump, one last time … and then I was done. All the classes went reasonably well — the introductory one exactly according to the plan (which is good, because that’s the place where I can control the fewest external problems), and one of them completely against plan. I said, “So. Questions about the reading?” and the first question (about the role of torture in European jurisprudence) generated a wave of discomfort in the room so palpable that we had to stop and talk about it — leading to more questions, a big discussion, me answering, students debating — end result, 45 minutes off schedule and it didn’t make much sense to address my syllabus topic anymore, but I pulled up some older slides about something related to the questions they had and for sure, nobody but nobody fell asleep. I talked to my TAs for a while and tried to advise one of them on possible primary sources for his planned term paper in another class. And then, I was free …

I was tired. Wondered what was going on. Looked at the web and didn’t find much of anything. Went to my local and had a beer that turned into two, a pretzel, and nice thick sandwich. And then it was time enough that I figured I should be seeing electronic flashes. I’d been debating about whether I was going to watch Armitageworld in real time or not last night, wondering if I didn’t used to be happier in the days when I didn’t use my laptop like a radio telescope for viewing a far-off world, and just picked up the data the next morning after someone else had collated and digested them. Chatted with a friend who said she’d decided to do just that, go to bed, nurse her cold, and not subject herself to the stress of the constant refresh and the other well-known negative externalities of the event. Decided to go home and leave it up to chance — if I could poach datastream, I’d watch it, if not, I’d just read till I fell asleep. I was, after all, tired.

The datastream was there. And the indices started to show up. And people were just so happy! (Well, almost everyone.) I actually wasn’t planning to liveblog the whole thing, but when I started to see the tweets and remarks appear, I got excited as well! In fact, my mood just got better and better. It wasn’t because I was drinking more beer. Eventually my friend who’d gone to bed was woken up by her daughter and started looking at the stream as well. We started chatting about how good we were feeling. “I haven’t felt this good in weeks,” she said. “Seeing these pictures!” I agreed with her. I tried several times to make myself go to bed and finally the third time was a charm. And when I woke up this morning I was still in the euphoric, post-event haze and there was even more stuff to look at!

What a feeling. Except for a few twinges I’ve been feeling great all day. Some random observations:

1. Great to see new pics, new vids, new reports of fan encounters. The event certainly went off in a way that almost seemed designed to enhance Armitage’s talented artist, nice guy, humorous, caring, image. Armitage and fans made me proud to be an Armitage fan.

1a. I managed to stay away from moments in datastreams that gave early signals of being transmitters of negativity. There were two or three and I was able to shut them off / ignore them simply because of (1) — my euphoria was really high.

1b. Wonderful to see a Richard Armitage in action dealing with fans who bears strong similarities to the friendly Richard Armitage of the pre-Hobbit years — from what I could tell, he seemed a lot more like the often playful guy who people met on the Into the Storm and occasionally on the Spooks or Robin Hood sets. That’s not a criticism of his recent behavior; it totally makes sense for him to stay under cover in huge premiere situations with hordes of fans all over the place and dedicated security people responsible merely for protecting his body. Neat to see him coming back out in the smaller setting, however, and showing his appreciation and care.

2. Great to be signal boosting stuff for non-twitter, non-tumblr, non-FB audiences. Made me feel useful / helpful to people on the other side of the digital divide (or who were sleeping at the time).

3. Pondering the whole positionality of where I am when I am doing this. I’m always watching from afar and have never felt any inclination to change that.

3a. To note, re: preparation — a la performance or lecture preparation — involves knowing what’s going to happen, where to look, and especially how to avoid the shoals of certain interactions that always make me sad or angry. That last thing is something I don’t think about much anymore while teaching because I’ve had so much practice cutting off problems in the classroom. Negativity / problem interactions rarely catch me by surprise there. Goal is to go more prepared into fangirling situations in ways that support positive experiences that mean I enjoy both the event (or what I see of it) and whatever interactions I am supporting.

II. Reflections about Richard Armitage

3b. Up till now, while I’ve discussed my desire to see Richard Armitage on stage, I’ve wrestled with my discomfort about the whole stage door / meet and greet situation (repeatedly). Last November’s Hobbit fan event is something I might have done if I’d lived close enough to New York or not been teaching that day (I’ve only ever canceled class for illness, religious observance, and my mother’s funeral) but the distance and expense precludes it. Last night’s staged reading was another matter, in that it would have provided the necessary material to make the trip attractive, but I simply couldn’t have cut work to do something like that.

I think, after what I saw of the play (see the vids here), that if Armitage is on stage I’m going to have to see it. MORE NOW THAN EVER. It’s weird to say that now, given that means and opportunity are likely to be shrinking on my end very shortly — I never made the least effort to see him in the flesh up till now, anyway. I’ve wondered, off and on, if he becomes a stage regular in New York City — which he should do, if that is what he seeks most — if that will perforce distance me from him simply because I won’t be able to experience him reliable and in replay. I just can’t go to New York (or London, for that matter) all the time.

But this is why:

I’ve seen plenty of video of Armitage over the last few years and it seems a paradox, if not totally self-contradictory, to say that Richard Armitage seems more real in a stage role as Swann than he does in person as Richard Armitage.

Think for a second, Serv. That can’t make sense. Or: it’s what he wants to achieve — the reality of the character that he’s said so many times is more interesting than just Richard.

Even so, over against filmed roles, over against video interview — there’s something so oddly present about him in these vids.

Some of it, of course, is the hothouse intensity of Proust himself, the way that period of literature seems to make everything mean something in a desperate, impossible way. (Think — Franz Wedekind, for instance.) It’s a good class of piece to work on if you’re a man with a severe case of the smolders, I suppose.

[ETA: the incongruity of the dancelike movements, the choreographed, conscious cycles of Armitage’s steps from here to there, against the live performance — walking and yet dancing, dancing AS walking.]


And some of it is the frame rate (sorry Hobbit fans) at which the vid is shot, so that in fact it does seem more real because it doesn’t taken on the vague edges of film or most television.

And I think a final piece of it — maybe a decisive piece — is the way in which live theater occurs around all these other things. It may be staged but it’s still live in the sense that as much as you do prepare, you navigate all these other things — real people standing on stage with you and watching  you from the audience, music, props, furniture, all these things that seem concrete and material in a way that they don’t, in film. And the materiality of the setting increases the materiality of the actor?

The live setting is like the classroom, you never know what may happen. The plan can be realized or go awry and the artistry of the actor lies in mastering the situation.

Oddly, in these brief snippets, I see myself, my roles, anyway, in Armitage again.

3c. After reading all these encounter stories, I am no more eager to meet Richard Armitage in person than I ever was. Possibly less. To think about.

~ by Servetus on January 18, 2014.

18 Responses to “Happy Richard Armitage Fangirl Zone: What I’ve put together, watching from afar last night, as usual”

  1. Thank you for reblogging all of the stuff last night. I would have missed most of it. 🙂


    • you — and everyone else — are very welcome. I don’t mind the work aspect of it — it’s the tension that arises around it that i don’t care for.


  2. Thanks so much for pulling all these bits together. It was exciting to see the pictures and different viewpoints of various attendees at what was an exciting Richard Armitage event. Don’t know that I would enjoy the reading without Mr. Armitage’s presence.


    • yeah, this was very hardcore THEA-TA theater. If he wanted to establish his high culture credentials he couldn’t have made a better choice in terms of dipping his toes in, but it’s definitely not the kind of play most theatergoers see casually.


  3. Ditto! I’m always amazed at how much you do. I felt the positive vibe and felt really good and good about Richard and the RA fans.

    I was backing off the fandom but between last night and the “I Saw Something Fine” posts this week I am totally back in. He is so lovely!


  4. Thank you indeed for all the hard work. I was still in and still I was very happy to see the Richard that seemed more in evidence before the Hobbit. He seemed very happy and relaxed and just having fun. Live theater energizes an actor it seems. I still have the same desire to meet the man as well as the actor. I was very proud of the way everyone behaved. It appeared to be a very lovely evening that everyone from cast to fans enjoyed and that is what made it so special.


  5. […] Thoughts on “On Stage” Richard […]


  6. Thank you for bringing all of it together I would’ve missed an awful lot having been asleep and not knowing where to look.

    I was talking to my friend and colleague who is the only person apart from my husband who knows the depths of my RA fascination, I was saying to her that I would still really not like to meet him. I think I am so tongue-tied and shy that it would be mortifying for both of us!

    It could never happen in a fan situation it would have to be on the train or something not connected with what he does, I think I would still hide.


    • In a way that’s a courtesy — I don’t think one is 100% obligated to pretend one doesn’t recognize a celebrity — context is always key — but I’m sure that makes it easier on them to be in public.


  7. Thank you very much for your work ,Serv.
    I think I’m still afraid of such a meeting…I just don’t want to feel like a molecule of dust in the sun.


    • interesting simile — yeah, I didn’t leave this episode thinking, oh, I’ve got to meet him. More the opposite. I’m still pondering the reasons why, though.


  8. Wow. Once again I must thank you for sharing your thoughts and especially for linking to your old blog entry from 2010 (stalking Armitage). It’s really helped me out with a lot of what I’ve been feeling these past couple of days. If I want to write more to you, I can send a message at your ‘about’ link, correct?


    • yup, there’s a window there to leave a message.

      I went out to friends’ for dinner tonight and we had a long talk about just this question — very thought provoking but I have the germ of an idea now.


  9. […] know, it’s not out of insufficient love for Richard Armitage or desire to his work, even if I still don’t think I could ever do a stage door (and was just remembering this nightmare about it). I don’t discount the […]


  10. […] so many times I can’t find all the links, but it’s an ongoing theme of the blog, and the most recent time was in January. In this post, I reiterate my desire to see Armitage act: “I think, after what I saw of the […]


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