Practical stage door observations #richardarmitage
[I promised to come back in two days and update, so here I am. I should preface this by saying that I still don’t know what to do about this blog and I am now continuing the hiatus another 48 hours. I’ll check in again on Tuesday. However, I thought this information / reflection would be useful for those who have yet to see Love, Love, Love and want to catch Richard Armitage at the stage door. Comments are open in case someone has something to add, but while I really feel like writing, my heart isn’t in fangirling at the moment, which I have to admit is a really weird feeling. Thanks to everyone who has sent positive messages in public and in private. I really appreciate those who have taken the time to say that it’s not just fangirling they are here for.]
These remarks are based on my observations at the stage door for Love, Love, Love from 11/3-11/6. I saw five performances in this time span. Four of these were anticipated to have stage door opportunities, and three of them actually did (the Saturday matinée had none, as anticipated, and neither did the Sunday matinée, I assume due to the Berlin Station live tweet that evening).
I more or less followed DaphneHS’s suggestions, and while I didn’t get in line every single night, by doing so, I’d have had access to stand in a place where I could have expected to be able to greet Richard Armitage personally. To wit: don’t wait for the end of the curtain call, but leave immediately (this was facilitated the nights I was there because Alex Hurt interrupted the applause to ask for donations); don’t leave by the center rows of the orchestra but by the side exits; if you are in the middle of the row, tell your neighbors you will be leaving quickly. If you’re in the mezzanine you’re a level higher, and if you’re in the orchestra, you have an escalator to help you. I would add — once you get out, stand as close as possible to the place where the door intersects with the barrier (you can stand behind the barrier and the door, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless all you want is a videotape), or between there and the street, where the car service will pick up the actors after the show. Numbers at the barrier were always less than twenty when I was there, except on Saturday night, when there were probably forty or so. As far as I could tell, everyone who was there on Thursday and Friday nights when I was there was able to get either an autograph or a picture, or was able to say something to him. Obviously I didn’t poll them all so some people may have come away disappointed, but on the Thursday I was there, there were only twelve people who were seeking anything.
Two additional notes: First, as to something I keep reading here and there about how Armitage’s stagedoor behavior reflects his feelings of increasing distance from the fandom — if it’s true, I saw no evidence of this.
For purposes of comparison, I was at the London stage door in the last week of September 2014 to see The Crucible and observed it, I think, five times. The main differences to London from NYC were that (a) there were many more people waiting in London and (b) there is an elastic barrier in NYC, which is, as far as I can tell, standard at NYC stage doors and in this case, useful, because in exiting he’s caught between the crowd and the building (which wasn’t the case in England) and (c) he seems less obviously exhausted in NYC.
In London, I observed that he exited the stage door, came out to the crowd, and sort of walked down the line, more or less as he does here (here there’s a barrier). When people asked him for a photo he always said yes, but whether they got one or not was heavily related to whether they had a camera ready and whether other fans cooperated. (I wrote about it at the time that this was a way not to disappoint anyone actively.) He also signed a lot of stuff and said “G-d bless you” or “thank you” when people complimented his work. In London, he often looked dazed or exhausted and I did not observe any really meaningful conversations, except for one. He was physically accompanied by his security person/people (who accepted stuff for him) and at some point, whether or not he had satisfied everyone, he turned and walked back into the theater.
This is more or less what’s happening in New York, allowances being made for the space. He leaves the theater, and there’s a line of people standing behind the barrier between the door and the sidewalk. People ask him for a photo or an autograph and he says “where’s your camera” or signs stuff. If you say something, he mostly says “Thank you,” or “Thank you for coming.” A few more people have had brief (as in two-word) exchanges with him that I am aware of, but maybe that’s just because I know more people who were in NYC. If you give him something, he takes it and says “thank you” or “thank you so much.” In general, he is much smilier in NYC than he did in London (I assume because this play isn’t quite so physically and emotionally demanding), but I didn’t get the impression that he was having a lot of meaningful exchanges with people. He looks more present, but his rather patterned responses to what they say suggest he isn’t listening all that closely (as in London). As he progresses from the theater exit toward the car, the line of fans changes shape (people drop out, those who didn’t get what they wanted push further down the line, just as in London) until he reaches the end of the barrier. At that point there are about three steps to the car. The security people are standing there, but there are still fans standing there as well and sometimes there is another selfie opportunity right there or a chance for a quick word. Someone opens the car for him or he opens it, and steps in.
Anyway, that’s what I observed. I didn’t go to those first euphoric days of stage door in London, which were obviously different, and I’ve never been to a Hobbit premiere; I’m only comparing what I saw in London in 2014 vs what I saw in NYC in 2016. But I don’t feel that his emotions as they are displayed toward the people waiting (some are his fans, some are not) are meaningfully different except that he seems smilier in NYC. The nightly event is much shorter, but there are fewer people there and the space is much smaller and cut off by a standard, elastic barrier.
Second, and I hesitate before saying this, but what the hell — in London, people who had attended the play multiple times and knew how to work it made it to the head of the line quickly and got repeat photo ops while many “first timers” did not have one, because they were not as experienced and ended up in a part of the stage line that Armitage did not reach. As the line here is so much smaller, it would be really kind of those who are seeing the play multiple times and have already had a photo op because they “know how to do it” to stand back and let first-timers have a chance. This is a moment that means a lot to everyone who attempts it. The stage door experience is always a crap shoot but we can help each other out.
Ymmv. Talk to you later.