I bought #LLL tickets ahead of time: This is why

Screen shot 2016-07-14 at 10.52.46 PMRichard Armitage doesn’t become “accessible” in the flesh all that often. When that rare event is about to occur, certain side effects in the fandom become immediately noticeable. I’ve watched this three times now and witnessed the apparently inevitable discussions that follow a particular pattern. So much useful information comes through Twitter, but it can be a struggle to hold on to my temper. There was a new wrinkle this time, because we could buy tickets to the play before Armitage’s participation was officially confirmed. Tactfully speaking — there was a lot of discussion about (and ostensibly on behalf of) fans who chose to buy tickets before we knew 100 percent that Armitage would participate.

I was an early buyer. No one needs to defend me. I’m an adult in full possession of my faculties, I promise. (Well, okay, it may be the case that a photo of Armitage causes my heart to beat wildly, but I think I’m in good company there.) I didn’t say anything about my choice, because I didn’t want to influence anyone with my behavior — to the point that someone DM’d me to ask what I thought about the odds it would happen since I hadn’t said. And when I did write about the play, I was careful to stress that everything we knew up till then was speculative. Risk analysis is an individual thing, and what might be a problem expenditure to one fan might be worthwhile and unproblematic to another. And the point of writing this is not to rejoice in good fortune — if you can’t go, I will be happy to commiserate with you if that is what you need — so much as it is to note how I felt and why I decided to do something so “irrational.”

Intelligence was solid on June 7 that Love, Love, Love could be a planned project, and was strengthened on June 9 when Armitage “favorited” a fan tweet. I bought my tickets on June 10, after the much-commented “like” held for a day. So I’ve been waiting patiently a whole month to see what would transpire. I can’t say that I was especially worried after that like — insofar as historically, we often didn’t hear about Armitage’s forthcoming work from the man himself, my assumption was that a “like” that held signaled his full intent to stick with a specific project, indeed, possibly a contract. It seemed to me to have a different value than his coy non-speech, deletions, and follows around Mid-Life Crisis, and once I had scouted the project, playwright, director and theater a bit more, it was easy to see why he’d want to do this play.

Once I concluded that he planned to do it and that I wanted to see it, I counted my pennies and thought about what I could afford to spend on tickets now and whether I’d be able to swing airfare, a hotel and meals when the play was confirmed, and decided yes, I could. I asked myself, could I live with the financial loss of the ticket price if I had to write it off, and decided that since the theater is a non-profit, it could be booked in my budget as a charitable contribution, so the answer was yes to that as well.

Those are the rational pieces, and they were there. But there was also the context. And the emotions.

Context: I think now that the term is over, it is okay for me to admit that my part time job this spring involved teaching. No one who teaches escapes without dealing with student issues. There are some that I’m set up to avoid (my assignments are written to make cheating difficult) and other battles I will not fight (forcing students to read). I find it goes in cycles. There are regular recurring problems with students every semester, and then there are those that occur once or twice a year, and then there are problems that are the equivalent of a hundred-year flood. And of course the issue with that kind of problem is you’re not expecting it.

Halfway through the semester, I added an accelerated adult class, figuring that although I was surviving, I could use the additional income. Promptly, I had a “hundred-year flood” situation on my hands. Besides the ongoing aggravation throughout the course, which I was unable to fix despite my best efforts and which gnawed at me for seven weeks, the situation that the student put herself in at the end of term triggered the involvement of administrators. As I said to the Dean after it burst the bounds of my control, “I walked into my first classroom in 1994 and I thought I had seen everything, but this blows my mind.” It took me literally two and a half workdays and five 500-mg aspirin to deal with the ensuing paperwork, and it was little consolation when the student took the same pointless strategy with the Dean that she had with me. She was seen through (she caused the same problem in three classes, and the fact that instructors do speak to each other meant she couldn’t triangulate in the end) and dealt with, but it took its toll.

So when the opportunity came up, it almost seemed like — a compensation. All the trouble from that student spawned the money that would pay for me to see Armitage on stage. It felt kind of that way. Like a reward for sticking that situation out to the bitter end.

Screen shot 2014-09-04 at 12.25.54 AM

Richard Armitage as John Proctor, ascending the stage in Act One of The Crucible, London, Old Vic Theater, June 2014.

But here’s the emotional part. When it came down to it, when I heard that Armitage would be on stage again, I had that visceral feeling that I had on the first night of Armitagemania, and at the first time I saw Armitage on stage in London. It doesn’t happen all that often — maybe one other time in the last eighteen months — that feeling of “I want, and this wanting makes me feel alive.” I’ve often thought, since Armitagemania, that I might have a glimpse of what it’s like for old men to fall unreasonably in love with very young women. I don’t approve of it, per se, but I am beginning to understand the impulse that drives it — and it’s not wholly sexual. It’s something about how one experiences need. That sudden need that widens the eyes, that only one thing will fulfill.

And with that — that feeling of “this is the desire that will keep me whole,” all the calculations and rational considerations were gone. I didn’t care about the risk of loss when the scent of desire was filling my nostrils. I went to the phone and booked the tickets.

That night, I said to a fellow fan who I was discussing it with: “That exhilaration that I felt when I saw him on stage in London. I’d do anything to feel that again.”

And if I had lost — well, in the end, I’d still have had the month of being reawakened by desire.

~ by Servetus on July 16, 2016.

51 Responses to “I bought #LLL tickets ahead of time: This is why”

  1. “That exhilaration that I felt when I saw him on stage in London. I’d do anything to feel that again.” I remember the exhilaration of seeing him in Sydney, and yes, that’s what I want to feel again, so badly sometimes it brings me to tears, given the unlikelihood of it ever happening again.

    • I can imagine — because if I’d have known from the outset that it wasn’t possible I also would have felt despair.

      • I loved reading your Crucible experience and look forward to your (and others’) LLL recounts. 🙂

  2. Well I can’t be going but I’m glad you will be because I can potentially live vicariously through your posts because I am really really hoping you will be writing about the play and his performance – in great detail.

  3. I took the leap of faith and can’t wait to see the play. A major expense for me will be buying shoes and clothes for cold weather. I don’t think flip flops will be warm enough, or sophisticated enough. 🙂

    • yeah, you need real shoes for NYC — but I don’t know how sophisticated they need to be 🙂

    • Kathy, they don’t need to be sophisticated so much as sturdy enough to survive walking on the pavement for long distances. Unless you have the time/patience to have a cab or private car drive you. Me, inevitably, whenever I find myself in NYC, I always want to pay the driver and get out because I hate sitting in the back of a stuck in traffic car doing nothing. Maybe I’m fidgety (yeah probably) or undisciplined (yeah that too), but I’m happy to walk. Unless I can travel by helicopter and I just don’t see that happening here. When I see you tonight, we shall discuss more❣ Hope you are ready for CCI freakin’ madness to ensue cause it is happin’❗️

  4. I had to speculate on the tickets. It gave hubby something (more) to tease me about. Oh, and that whole getting to experience RA on stage again thing. That’s something … 😉

  5. Thank you for being so open. I don’t imagine it’s easy for you to share personally in that way. I have not had the experience of seeing and meeting him yet, but the promise of that happening in the near future has given me some sort of current running through me. It’s had the power to keep me sane in these weeks of constant tragedy and turmoil. When I knew he would not only be living in the next state, but that I would likely MEET him, not just my fantasy of running into him in NYC, I knew that day that I must make that happen, no matter what else may be going on. I have not purchased a ticket yet, or chosen a date. Hopefully it will be on a day with the extras. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go more than once, but I have the insane feeling that as long as I’m able to see him, meet him, that somehow I’ll be pretty much fulfilled, and that the feeling will stay with me forever.

    • There are multiple issues (FERPA, which limits what can be said about a student, which is why my stories about students are all so vague); the question of what is happening in the fandom that inspires a particular topic (there was actually a particular incident in this case that was tangentially related) and my level of interest in wading into any particular controversy (some of them I find worthy of discussion, others I don’t), and indeed, how open I’m feeling about anything. I used to share a lot more, but I got stung; and the whole question of who gets to go to a play is an incredibly fraught one.

      I do feel like I will never forget that evening in August 2014. It hasn’t faded for me at all. I don’t know that everyone has that experience but I did.

  6. You have described the feeling of need and desire so beautifully. I have been eagerly anticipating possibly seeing RA on stage since the tentative news came out. I even told my husband that we NEEDED to go to NYC and why. He (teasingly) supports my obsession, buying me DVDs I ask for for birthdays etc. But given competing financial demands for the family, chances of me going are in reality extremely slim. (Sigh.) I still have not seen all of RA’s available work, so I can still anticipate seeing/hearing him in new ways. Vicar of Dibley is one that I only just saw last month and watching the non-scowling Richard was a lovely experience and made me feel very happy. Last night I re-watched the first half of The Crucible, and while I did not see it live, Proctor’s first scene with Abigail even after multiple viewings still has the power to move me. Enjoy the experience in NYC and I for one will await your posts. (Unless I win a lottery!)

    • you really would have a long way to go. When I thought I wouldn’t be able to see The Crucible, I did console myself with the thought that this wouldn’t be the last time Armitage was ever on stage and there could be other opportunities.

  7. I’m so glad you have tickets – and look forward to you blogging about it. Because of the speculation over the last few weeks, I have found myself wondering what I would do if the production was local (ish) to me and it strikes me that it is easier for those of us who simply cannot go than those who live closer but have either financial or practical limitations. That, I would think, would be agonising- especially with ambiguity thrown in. It sounds like you did have to agonise a little bit but have ( fortunately for us all) come to the conclusion that you can.

    • I agree with you Bolly, I think it probably is easier to accept when the decision is more or less taken out of our hands courtesy of where we live.

      • I used to have conversations like this with Australian research colleagues — they just couldn’t attend regular annual conferences. Maybe if it was the conference of a decade or something. Very frustrating for them and us.

    • Bolly, you described my situation exactly. I live six hours from New York City so this is local (ish) for me. The expense of getting there and the ticket for the play are manageable. When it gets difficult is when you start to add in hotel, meals, taxi, etc. I also have physical limitations and I have a real concern about how I would manage. I have said (to myself) if Richard ever did a play in NY I would have to go. Now that the possibility is here I am conflicted.

      • The hotel is by far the most expensive piece of this. It’s workable to economize on almost everything but that. If you need help with NYC accessibility issues, you should get in touch with Perry, though, I think she has that all scoped out.

      • Yes, do. I might have some ideas depending on your issues and maybe you can get tickets for a matinee on a date when you know other fans are going. It’s worth considering.

    • I think maybe the concrete comparison for me would have been Leeds — I could have gone, could have gotten vacation, but could not manage the expense, although I could have borrowed. To some extent it was conditioned my suspicion that we’d see that film at some point, one way or another, but it was mostly that I didn’t feel like I could justifiably borrow for that particular experience. Although the real difference is that he wasn’t on stage in Leeds.

      In this case the sacrifice I am making is against rebuilding my financial reserves — but my financial perspective in general has changed right now because of not paying rent. And the appeal is greater because it’s a play.

  8. I nearly bought prior to a confirmation, had the screen up and ready, all I’d have to do was press “place order.” With my husband at my side (who is very much like yours, SueBC) it was I who shut the computer off. You see, financially, it would’ve been nice to see a play, but only Richard in it was worth the sacrifice of the cost. We are struggling, but this experience is something that brings me so much joy, that we will find a way to make it work. I just interviewed for a summer job which will help with things in general. Praying for a permanent one in the fall. We’ll see.
    Having once been at a Hobbit Q&A in NYC with RA and Lee Pace, I know the feeling of seeing him in RL and drawing in the same air. It was exhilarating and uncomfortable for me at the same time. I want, more than anything, to watch him act live. I want to see him immerse himself in a character. Lose his shy realness and become who he isn’t on stage. Then, I will see his expression, his detail and witness in person what it is that pulls me in while he’s on screen. I want to see him work while I’m in the room.
    As for a stage door, I’m not sure yet. Not sure if I can handle it. But, I also know that I might regret not doing it. Still wrestling the idea.
    As for those who can’t go, I understand. Been in that position before. I hope you will have an opportunity at some time; wish there was a way to make it possible for all! It was reading others accounts that made it ok for me when I missed the reading at the 90th street Y. God was I sad! And he looked amazing with all those nape curls around that time, dear Lord! I didn’t have the money, though it would’ve been close enough and other circumstances prevented my going. I watched the clock, read the updates and felt like my heart was symbiotically connected to the fandom. The pictures and reviews were enough to help. I was thrilled to read all the after accounts and once it was over it was over. No more angst. Thanks to all those who blog…your writings really do keep us close. It connects us in ways when our physical distances simply can’t!

    • That stage door piece is really complicated. The common wisdom (“do it in case you never have the chance again”) is problematic. I certainly felt what you are describing (“not sure I can handle it”) and I know others do, too.

      • I have to wonder – asI truly don’t know how common it is- is it a foregone conclusion that he WILL do stage door for this play?
        I am trying not to assume it, though of course it would be sad (to me) if it doesn’t happen! (Not trying to start a tsunami, just wondering 🙂

        • No, but the way the stage door is organized at this theater, to leave he will apparently have to walk back through the lobby of the theater. There are several New York theater blogs / websites that descrie this. So unless the actors wait until the theater has been cleared to leave (which they might, who knows), he will at least be visible. I don’t know if he will do it again, but given that he always did it in London and this play is an hour shorter and much less physically taxing (I assume from the script), one would think he would do it at least some of the time.

          • I see, if there’s a natural spot (particularly indoors), it does sound likely then- or as likely as anything 🙂

            I was already thinking of how this part sounds much less likely to own him body and soul than John Proctor did – & while that was more than worth it to all concerned, it’s probably especially draining with live theatre compared to film or TV. Perhaps nice to do something just a TAD lighter (though “black comedy” is an interesting genre too, maybe more mental energy required vs. physical & visceral 🙂

            • yeah — depends a bit on the staging, too. The central moral feature of this character is constant denial. It might be hard to sustain as well. It’s an emotional play, that is for sure.

  9. I realize that even though it will be an expenditure I would not normally make, I am much luckier than most in that I need only hop a train. I don’t have to worry about plane tickets, and if I really had to, could skip a hotel and come back home after. I am not a person who goes into the city all the time. I can count on one hand the times I have been. Those have been to visit a niece and her family living there. It is horrible timing on her part to have just moved back to CT in June. This will involve lobbying all family to consider early Christmas presents by pooling if necessary, to make it happen as many times as possible.

    • Those pesky relatives who make decisions independently of our Armitage needs! (LOL)

      Christmas presents sound like a great idea. Give the ticket of love. 🙂

  10. There is nothing like the thrill of seeing someone you “have” to see walk out on that stage for the first time. Your heart stops and your breath catches. It is just an amazing experience to go through. There are certain “events” in life you will take chances with, spend time, take money that you don’t know where it came from, but it doesn’t matter .. you just know you have to do it or will always look back and regret that you didn’t take the chance. Richard is one I would do that for..in a heart beat. unfortunately he is not near enough for me to accomplish it. I have done it for one other and have never regretted it. Richard is the only one and is next.

    • Everything about being a fan has surprised me, but this most of all. However, I remember the first time I blogged about maybe seeing him on stage (back when there was no prospect that he would do a play any time soon) and people said the same things you are saying. I was just skeptical, lol.

  11. It sounds as if it was a well-deserved reward. Hubby has had a few of “those” situations as well over the years, concerning students. I have no idea what this particular one of yours was, but he keeps being assigned to these grade-appeal committees and he’s starting to question why he seems to be the “go-to” guy for the administration. I was right there with you on the advanced ticket gamble, and didn’t even have an aggravation deserving of compensation. I’m very blessed to be in a position where I can make my own schedule, and I was saving for months in anticipation of such an eventuality. A little daunted by the idea of travelling to a huge city on my own, though!

    • Grade appeals are bad because there has to be an appeal process in place, but in practice you rarely find a professor who is grading unfairly. Harshly, maybe, but truly unfair grading is rare. Even when it does occur it’s hard to prove (and in my experience most faculty who are alerted to grading mistakes that are really mistakes are happy to change a grade). You also see the worst side of all the parties, I find.

      NYC is really built well for the first time traveler, I think. It’s all built on a grid, most of Manhattan is entirely safe to walk nowadays, and it’s well connected with safe (if somewhat dirty) public transportation. It’s not my favorite US big city but it’s easier for the novice to traverse than (say) Los Angeles or Washington DC or even Chicago.

  12. I’m so glad for you that you are going! I like that you see it as a reward after such a tough time. Sorry you had to go through that.

    I don’t think I will be able to swing it financially but when I read what you write about wanting I know exactly what you mean! I want this too, I wanted it from the moment I heard about it and now that’s it’s official I want it even more! Maybe if I win the lottery…

    In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy it all through you and the other fans that will be able to go. And hope that a DVD will be made of this production…

    • You will need to buy a ticket 🙂

      • It’s not the theater ticket that’s the problem…

        • no, I meant the lottery ticket. There’s a great Jewish joke about that.

          • Ohhhh, that ticket! Ok, I’m biting – what’s the joke?

            • So you have to imagine this being told in Yiddish or else Moshe with a really strong Yiddish accented German:

              “Moshe hadert mit Gott, der Welt und dem Schicksal. Er geht zum Beten in die Wüste und klagt Gott sein Leid: „Herr, warum bist du so grausam? Ich war dir immer ein guter Diener. Alles hast du mir genommen. Wenn es dich gibt, zeig mir, dass du ein guter Gott bist, und lass mich einmal in der Lotterie gewinnen!“ Nichts passiert. Am nächsten Tag betet Moshe wieder: „Herr, gib mir eine Chance, lass mich wenigstens einmal im Lotto gewinnen.“ Nichts passiert. Er betet weiter, eine Woche, einen Monat, ein ganzes Jahr. Als er nach einem Jahr wieder anfängt zu klagen: „Herr, gib mir eine Chance, lass mich doch einmal im Lotto gewinnen“, passiert ein Wunder: Der Himmel über ihm öffnet sich, und eine tiefe Stimme spricht: „Moshe, ich hab dein Klagelied ein Jahr lang anhören müssen.

              Jetzt, bitte, gib du mir eine Chance – und kauf dir endlich ein Los!“

              (e.g., the way I heard it, the punchline sounds more like “Gib mir a Schance, käuf mal a läus”

    • Really wish you could come.

  13. […] I’ve already bought all the tickets to this play I plan to buy. (Mr. Armitage, did you think we’d forgotten?) But I was curious as to how the tickets are selling, so I decided to take a random snapshot of how sales are going at this point. Keep in mind that I have no idea of how many seats the Roundabout Theater Company normally expects to have sold at this point, and also that the number of seats I can see as available probably does not reflect seats actually already sold, although it may be close. Theaters like these in NYC typically reserve some small proportion of seats from open general sale for various reasons, including seats that may be allotted to actors as part of their contract or held for VIPs or high-priced last minute sales. […]

  14. […] all of them, and I don’t even think off of my kneejerk reactions to certain things are fair. My issues with fan anxieties around the theater are known and I won’t go into them further here, although I do have a post percolating about why these […]

  15. […] Planning started well, but got complicated as I needed to use vouchers and miles for travel and housing. October was not a good month in the Servetus household. Dad had an “accident” toward the middle of the month and then didn’t take his injury seriously at first, so that things got drastically worse. For several days, he couldn’t even stand on his own to go to the bathroom. Just as I was realizing he couldn’t stay by himself, he improved enough that I could go. And then — I had picked this weekend because I wanted one of the last performances where the weather wouldn’t be a hazard. After mid-November snow can mess up any trip around here until the end of April. I didn’t reckon with the World Series. (Although, to be fair, neither did Chicago.) When I logged on to check in for the flight, late Wednesday night, I learned it was canceled. None of the late flights from O’Hare had come north so there was no plane at any central Wisconsin airport for the first morning flight back south. The rest of the state was scrambling for seats, too. It was drive to Milwaukee (90 miles) or wait until Saturday to fly out — missing three of the five performances I had tickets for. When I got to Milwaukee Thursday morning, the limited rebooking the airline website let me do had led to the “loss” of the remainder of the reservation, which took another half hour to resolve. I could go but they weren’t sure I had a ticket to return and United (which I call “Untied” even under the best of circumstances) was not exactly helpful. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d get there on time for the play until I exited the Lincoln Tunnel about 3:30 p.m. on November 3rd and knew I could get there on foot if anything else unexpected happened. I felt really frustrated — one of my resolutions the last time I left Germany was never again to let my emotional life be tied to anything that involved relying on a plane. There were a series of hotel-related hassles that also did their bit to harsh my mellow. This trip had its own extremely thought-provoking moments, and I’m really glad I went, but it was not relaxing. And then the election the next day, and the results the day after that. […]

  16. […] I had loved The Crucible so much. Seeing it was transformative. I felt like I’d do anything to see that play. And even though I was excited by the script, I figured even if I didn’t like it, it would be […]

  17. […] I had loved The Crucible so much. Seeing it was transformative. I felt like I’d do anything to see that play. And even though I was excited by the script, I figured even if I didn’t like it, it would be […]

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