Richard Armitage prone

tumblr_niqvdjwuef1qmroe5o2_1280Richard Armitage as John Proctor in Act Two of The Crucible at the Old Vic Theater, as filmed in September 2014. Cap of Digital Theatre video of the play. Source.

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Could the Old Vic theater floor have swallowed me whole — it would have happened the first time I saw you perform this scene, Richard Armitage. I still don’t know how badly I want to watch the Digital Theatre video, for the night I first saw you in the flesh was among the moments of my life I will always remember. When I am an old woman, gasping my last, my fever dreams will include flashbacks to you in that moment, to how I felt, how deeply I breathed, how I thought my body might explode, how I covered my face with hands in disbelief and dropped them again in belief, and how I felt. It seems more important now, a memory I pull out only at moments when I think that without that reminder I will drown, when I think I might lie down in sadness or exhaustion, drowning in the obstacles on the path you inspired me to follow that night.

Proctor’s chores are done, he has seeded the field. You stalk into that scene, Armitage, and your aura draws us ineluctably into breathing with you — as he exhales, as he takes off his coat and puts down his lamp and warms his hands and tastes the stew and salts it as if he is brewing a potion against an argument with his wife, each separate component discrete and unified into your Proctor, Armitage. When he strips and kneels down before that basin — Elizabeth, trancelike, has filled it with water only a few moments before — he shows that stoop of the farmer, the ache of the muscles, the thing I never believed you, Armitage, could know, the pain and the control that kind of daily, crushing physical labor engenders. He, too, must bow before this basin; he, too, must wash away the sweat and the guilt. He shows the body that the farmer builds, out of practice and habit, not out of intention, since time outside of memory, the strength, the confidence, the prostration, the defenselessness. How much it must hurt Proctor not only to find his marriage bed cold, but even more, that his wife does not come to help him pull off his boots, does not rush to massage his shoulders, to pour the water over his back, to towel him dry, as farm wives have done ceaselessly, without word, without sound, in happiness, in anger, in equanimity, over the centuries. Armitage, your Proctor does all these things alone and when he gives in to his fatigue, when he puts his hand in the basin, leans on his forearm, rests his elbow, and most of all, when he lets his head hang — we know just how lonely he feels, without a word.

So often, Armitage, I have enjoyed your beauty, I have diagrammed it, detailed it, discussed it, praised it, admired it, I have let it inspire me, the mere dream of it has jerked my body to attention and after a spell it has let me rise and face the day, and yet I find your naked vulnerability never more effective than it is here: Proctor’s round buttocks, the curve of his lower back, the concession he makes to dignity, the pure awkwardness of that splayed, bowed crouch, that prostration before the basin, that need to wipe his body clean so strong that he does not care about awkwardness, the tiny crease in his belly, the relief he feels when the water touches his face, when he lets it trickle all the way down his back. He needs to be clean, this is no triumph, he is muscular without shame and yet also without pride, the power of the farmer and the ache of his back — you know, you have learned, you know the power and the sheer grinding fatigue, and yet this frame convinces not least owing to your own odd comfort and discomfort with your body, Armitage, you expose your Proctor naked and open and yet neither ashamed nor proud, wanting and ashamed to want and not be wanted, and yet always still there, still present, still powerful, still exhausted, still unapologetic.

Tonight, unusually, I write from a wine bar. I ordered a bottle of Sonoma Pinot Noir in your honor, Armitage, and I drink the first glass, silently, to you. I have bread and oil and olives next to my screen and with this picture, I pour the brine from the olives onto the bread, I dip it into the oil, I bite, I swallow, I raise the glass to my lips again, the conversation in the room swells around me and I persist in punching these words into the keyboard. Do this in remembrance of me, you seem to say; I try to write, Armitage, it’s the only sacrament I can consecrate to the lessons you taught me.

~ by Servetus on January 27, 2015.

39 Responses to “Richard Armitage prone”

  1. Excellent writing, Servetus. Simply excellent.

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  2. This has to be one of your best posts.
    Loved it. This is exactly why I love reading your blog. The way you express yourself is beyond amazing.

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  3. Wow….with such passion (or wine) you write this..Beautiful…I hope and pray to be able to download The Crucible soon…From the stills, talking to those who have seen it, I wait with baited breath to see this man, this actor, this Richard Armitage as John Proctor……

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    • I should probably ask them for a cut of the profit … I have advertised this a lot. But honestly it will be worth whatever it costs to download.

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  4. Beautiful. His form, your words. And what I can’t wait to relive, what’s not apparent in these stills, is the noises… his soft groans and gasps as he washed.

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  5. The audience restraint must have been remarkable considering there were no sirens, flashing lights and a loudspeaker proclaiming “everyone stay calm and remain in your seats”

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    • Sorry, that was flippant but I couldn’t help myself. RA’s understanding of characters lives..including the physical always impresses me…I noticed how well he tended those sheep in Sparkhouse…he seemed to have an easy way with it like he had been doing it for years.

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    • 🙂 The people who sat in front of that had amazing restraint; then again they were probably shocked. He took his shirt off in such a way that it seemed both wholly unexpected and entirely unnatural.

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  6. Wow, can’t wait to see it next week on screen! Du schafftst es wirklich, dass ich schon beim Frühstück total zappelig vor Erwartung bin. Für mich hat in der Rückschau diese Szene vor dem Hintergrund der Gesamtinszenierung zunächst garnicht soviel Raum in meinen Gedanken eingenommen. War halt ein, zugegebermassen spezieller, Ausschnitt im Gesamtbild. Diesen Ausschnitt jetzt en detail zu sehen fällt mich in seiner Körperlichkeit total an. Dieses Bild ist in meinen Augen das “Stärkste” von den Vieren, zumindest was meine direkte Reaktion darauf angeht. 🙂
    Grossartige Beschreibung! Ich freue mich, dass du es zum Gegenstand deiner Betrachtung gemacht hast.
    Ein schöner Rücken kann durchaus entzücken. 🙂

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    • we’ll be able to watch each sequence of the block in detail, over and over again. I can hardly wait! Nice rhyme!

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  7. beautiful.

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  8. This is an amazing peace of writing inspired by an amazing actor. Completely breathtaking from the beginning to the end. Thank you!

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  9. Oh, Serv 🙂 * sigh* I’m so happy you were able to go to London.

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  10. Thank you for this inspired reflection, I find a soothing quality in it.

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  11. Simply heartbreaking. His performance and your words, both equally touching.

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  12. I raise a virtual glass to you, Serv. Thanks for the beautiful words about a beautiful performance.

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  13. This brings tears to my eyes…. again…

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  14. Beautifully written, thank you Serv’. xx

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  15. You make me even more anxious to see this.

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  16. ah, perfect read! and wonderful accompaniment to the playback in my head, sound, vision and all 🙂 It was absolutely extraordinary how much we learned and felt about Proctor (and Liz) in those few minutes before they started talking to each other. Great idea beautifully realised. And it made the entire audience, all 1000 of us, breathless, one could hear a pin drop, nobody, absolutely nobody could extricate themselves from the effects of it and i think it’s good to remember that 🙂

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  17. Thanks to all these, I finally decide to go to Hong Kong in March where a couple of screenings are announced. 🙂
    Hope everything goes well. Fingers crossed.

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    • That’s so cool! I hope you have a fantastic time. I’ve never been to Hong Kong (or Asia for that matter) but I think of trying to take my dad to Australia and if we go we will stop there.

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      • Thank you! I went with friends to HK for The Hobbit 1&2, it’s unlike mainland China, but it also has something essential Chinese.
        I’ve never been to Australia (actually I only went to New Zealand last Dec) but I think I’ll go there next year. And honestly I want to thank RA for flaming up those desires….to see something new, to experience more

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  18. There were parts of this post that literally gave me goosebumps. I usually only have that reaction when I encounter something that touches me deeply and this beautiful piece certainly did. It was your experience, but it triggered memories of mine and how I felt while watching this powerful scene. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing this.

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