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.]

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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.

~ by Servetus on November 13, 2016.

27 Responses to “Practical stage door observations #richardarmitage”

  1. Great advice, Serv. Wishing you the best in whatever you decide. Again, I come here not always for RA.

  2. Thanks for all the SD observations. I was there for four of them. Two successful (meaning I got items signed) and two not so much. One was the no show on a Sun. and one was on Sat. where I was lost in a sea of fans. Friends played a version of “Where’s Waldo?” to spot me in the crowd. I really like your suggestion of letting other fans have a chance to get into the front of the line if you have already been there yourself. I think I might be too selfish to do that, but it is an ideal to strive toward. Maybe next play? Also, glad you are posting. You are always missed.

    • I wrote something about this a few years ago in which I said, essentially, everyone who is in that line has a reason for being there and I am not capable of prioritizing the reason. Even autograph resellers serve a purpose, although most fans despise them. However, there were people in London who got seven or more pictures of themselves w/Armitage. I never knew how to process that against statements of fans who tried to get a picture and didn’t, and in the end my information is not complete. So I tried to phrase that as a “this is a thing to think about” issue.

  3. Sorry, I got about two feet from him in order to give him some small gifts we had brought for him–and got literally elbowed out of the way. Not what I was expecting at all. It was wonderful to see the play and finally see Richard in person, but kind of an Eye-opener as to how some fans react. We went back the next afternoon before leaving NY and were able to give the gifts to one of the security men to pass on to him.

    • I’m not saying nothing unusual ever happens, only that I did not observe anything unusual happening, and I also think your issue is one with fans, not with Armitage. Presumably he didn’t elbow you out of the way?

      Were you there on the ComicCon weekend? Because I have heard about five different versions of what happened that night.

  4. I didn’t stay for the SD experience after any of the performances I attended, but I support your nudge for repeaters to make way for newbies. Many of the repeaters have been so generous in sharing their multiple experiences with the rest of the fandom via social media that it seems a natural extension for them to help out first timers, if possible. They’ve been terrific guides, so maybe they can help guide the newbie to success with a meet, autograph or photo.

    • I think the newbie who is only there once is at a real disadvantage, because although it’s not totally Machiavellian, it’s not like queuing for a bus in England, either. You need to have energy and initiative (by which I am not saying, incidentally, that everyone with those things will get what they want, but only that they are necessary). Inevitably, some people will have more than others. Some initiative will be perceived as rudeness.

      Part of the issue is that our thresholds for what is acceptable behavior in this setting are so different. I heard an account of a supposedly “tumultuous” SD in London that I was at. That night I was standing outside the line and observing the whole thing, and I can honestly say I did not observe anything like what the person in the line described. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen — but perceptions are really different.

      So I suppose I should also add — these lines are not for people who are uncomfortable with a low level of personal aggression, because that is definitely present. I tend to think of that as normal in a situation like this, but that is only my perception.

      • I did hear about one night when there was “pushing and shoving,” but like you, I would have to observe it to see whether I thought it was particularly unruly. I recall a ski trip in Austria where the Brits had no chance against the Austrian locals, of getting on the first or second bus to the lifts – even we Americans had to settle for the second bus, until we had practice. But, for New Yorkers – well, they didn’t put a numbers system at the smoked fish counter at Zabar’s for nothing – and for other Americans, all I can say is “Black Friday.”

        • yeah, in that situation, you’re pitting the most line-loving people on the planet, at least of the ones I have experienced (Brits) with Germanic cultures, which do not love a line (to put it mildly). I’d put Americans in the middle. And the differences can really be infuriating.

          last night I was buying groceries and they opened up a second line and said “whoever’s next” and the line waited for me to back my cart out of the line I was in and move to another one — I always say, only in Wisconsin, lol.

          • Haha! Germanics don’t know what a line is. Trust me, I grew up in Germany!😝😂😂

            • I have a friend, who is still a German historian — there was a crowd of us who spent big chunks of our post-grad years in Germany, she was one of them — who was really disturbed by German behavior in lines, particularly when the synergy occurred between line jumpers and elderly ladies. I was frustrated, but she really found it upsetting. She had this whole fantasy scenario developed about how Americans should never go to the post office without a pair of extremely sharp scissors. That way, when a granny jumped you in line and then reproached you for being angry at an elderly person, you could take out your scissors and cut through the straps of her shopping bag and run away. I’m 95% sure she never did it but she could spin the fantasy out for half an hour.

      • 🙂 RAfangirling isn’t for sissies!

  5. That would not have happened in NY. Someone behind you with a basket or some in-hand items would’ve gotten there first – but maybe saved you the next place.

  6. If I’ve been following fan accounts correctly, today was the fourth Sunday in a row that he did not do the stage door. I’m in no position to say it will stay that way, just that if you go on a Sunday, be aware that lately it’s not a sure thing. It’s hard to say if the BS live-tweeting is the reason, given that the show airs several hours later and the stage door takes just a few minutes. Who knows how they they prep for such things. One of those four Sundays he did not live-tweet BS that night. And he did do the stage door on Oct 16 when BS premiered and he live-tweeted (I was there and had a quick but pleasant exchange with him – 10 words from me followed by 6 from him. Not meaningful in any larger sense but very meaningful to me!😉 )

    • yeah, I think we can probably conclude safely now that he isn’t doing a Sunday matinee stage door (or it is more likely than not that he won’t do it).

      Glad you had a good experience!

  7. Thank you for this interesting account. I won’t be able to go there, but it’s still fascinating.

    And I enjoyed the cultural comparisons. Germans definitely aren’t very good with lines, and first encountering the totally different attitude towards this in another country was an eye opener. I found it a lot more efficient, civilised and pleasant, but behaving like that in Germany (or Austria, it seems) would really put you at a disadvantage.

    • Yup. Whenever I’m back home in Germany, I get my elbows out. My British friends would be so appalled! 😂😅😂 When in Rome… 😝

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