I Saw Something Fine – From the second row, and more, more more Pinter/Proust Part I

I saw something fineCapture
Part I – the Fun Stuff
I don’t know where to start to recount my evening at the Pinter/Proust event at the 92nd Street Y with Richard Armitage. after scarfing down a drink, I left my blogging friends Zan and Judiang at the private cocktail party for guests of the cast and came home to write this post. No apologies if it isn’t the best organized writing in the world. Photos to come later from Zan’s phone,and some from tumblr now.

I was lucky enough to know someone who obtained a better ticket than I had ( back on the side) for a ticket in the second row center. I went over to the Y early to pick it up and went to my appointed meet up with Zan and Judiang.
After a light meal, we made our way to the 92nd St. Y and the pre-show talk. I’m going to write more about it in Part 2 when I talk about the actual performance in a more cogent manner, and after I’ve had a chance to think about it. Basically, Di Trevis, the Director ( see prior posts for more about Di – I’ll link later) and Alastair MacCauley, Dance Critic for the New York Times, shared reminiscences about their friendship, and in Di Trevis’ case, her collaboration, with Harold Pinter. Wonderful and amusing stories told by charming and witty people. These two could take this act on the road.

The important points for now were (1) that Di Trevis told us that she has previously worked with everyone in the cast and two of the cast performed in the LAMDA workshop production she mounted. I have to double check my Informal Playbill ( link will come later) but I think Micra was right – Richard Armitage was probably one of the two, Annabel Capper being the other,(2) there was NO narrator – imagination and clues were how we were to follow the work, (3) this script differs from the screenplay in a few ways since it was adapted by Di Trevis expressly for this performance and (4) the actors were going to be using their books.

The program insert indicated that Richard Armitage was playing Swann ( yes!) and three other minor roles -one a German or Austrian Aristocrat and the other a male prostitute/milkman

The talk was over and the performance began. I was immediately disconcerted by the fact that there were two empty seats next to me and two empty seats in the front row on the aisle. My friends were in the balcony, and here were empty seats. It bugged for most of the performance – until….

The stage was set with a baby grand piano in the middle. chairs on each side faced the stage. At the back of the stage was a row of about 12 chairs. These chairs were used by actors who were not in the scene. At front stage left was an easel with canvas showing a swatch of yellow.

Source: X-Oskeleton.tumblr.com

Source: X-Oskeleton.tumblr.com

When Richard Armitage walked on to the stage, dressed in a black shirt, black rather tight jeans and a dark gray blazer, clean shaven, I kept cool. He took one of the seats in the back and the program began, but I will detail that in Part 2.

I might have been cool then, but when he entered the scene and began speaking, my heart started racing as though I had just run up the stairs. It took about 20 minutes for me to get back to normal. My reaction stunned me. I never expected it.

He is so beautiful and graceful. His voice bathed the auditorium, as he spoke in a proper British accent. Later he would effect three different accents – different voices completely.

During some of his scenes as Swann, he sat in a chair at front stage right – almost right in front of me. So close that I felt I couldn’t stare at him if some other actor on another part of the stage was speaking. This was exactly what MarieAstra described about her experience at The Hobbit Fan Event. But it was OK, because I knew I had over two hours with him. I’d get my fix. I was fascinated by his book which was loaded with post-its in different colors. I could see the yellow highlighting of his lines!

Source:ArmitageArmyUS.tumblr.Com

Source:ArmitageArmyUS.tumblr.Com

I’m tempted to describe his acting in some of the scenes, especially two, with Odette, his love interest – but it’s going to have to wait. But as we know, his reactive acting is equal or greater than his active acting. Something Di Trevis talked about when she said an actor can convey so much information with a turn of the head.

Let me also say here and now that some of the other cast members were totally brilliant, especially the actors playing Charlus (Hall Hunsinger – picked it off my copy of the screenplay) and Marcel (Peter Clements -same), as well as Annabel Capper and whoever played Francoise, the maid. ( I accidentally left my program notes with Zan, so I’ll fill this in. I’m sure she’ll send it to me for keeping).

One funny thing was that all the actors’ numerous credits were listed on the insert, but when it came to his name, only two stage performances were listed. Not a word about Thorin, or John Thornton or anything else. If you look at Part 2 of my Informal Playbill post, you’ll see I did the same thing – only with less information.

It was my intention to watch him whenever he was sitting in the back, but you know, I got into the performance, so there were times when I actually forgot about him!. But never for long.

All of sudden, in the scene where Marcel and St. Loupe go backstage to visit  St. Loupe’s crush, the actress Rachel, two guys came out of the side door in the audience, one of them smoking an electronic cigarette, and they tried to get into my row to the empty seats near me. This was Richard and – sorry – have to fill in his name – who were playing reporters. Unfortunately, an elderly lady was sitting to my left, she couldn’t get up and she didn’t realize they were actors, so Richard took the empty seat in the front row, and the other actor joined him.  Had things worked out as planned for the two empty seats next to me – Richard would have had to pass in front of me to get to his seat.

I’d be dead now.

Would he have come into the row facing me or backing in. I’ll never know, but I’m thinking about it a lot.

Also in the first act, Richard entered a party scene as the German aristocrat wearing an eye patch and dressed all in black. I thought of Agzy and Fedora Lady who have both manipped pirate pics of Richard. I laughed out loud and it wasn’t a funny scene. Lord, was he sexy, and he was ogling a female party goer – how did she even resist?

At intermission, I figured those two seats were not going to be used, and there was empty seat in the first row. In addition, people were getting their coats and leaving. Many people were leaving. Thinking Judiang and Zan in the balcony, I decided this could not be. So I went upstairs and told them to come down. I shooed away some interested audience members who wanted those seats, and my friends joined me in the second row.

We managed to tweet about the eye patch. Too good a tidbit to keep to ourselves for long.

In the second act, I looked around and couldn’t find Richard on the stage. It was another party scene. When an actor vacated one of the front chairs, I could see through the spaces between the legs in the chairs to the back row, and I saw a pair of hands playing around with a book – I recognized the hands as Richard’s, so I spent some time doing nothing more than watching his hands thumb through his books. ( Always listening the play, of course).

The brothel scene was played for laughs and I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, except to say now that the “Customer,” Charlus, was dissatisfied with his “date,” Richard, and traded him in for someone else. I’m thinking, “you stupid, stupid man.”

Performance is over and curtain calls begin. The first call, Richard was in the center, a little to my right, but for the second bow, he was right in front of Zan. He sparkled – they all did -because those who remained really loved this performance.

The theater was emptying and the three of us were getting ready to go to the gallery where we were told the actors would appear. But just then, Di Trevis came on to the stage, and slowly some other actors did as well. I spoke for good few minutes with Peter Clements, who thanked me for coming, and I had a chance to speak with Hall Hunsinger for a while – because I thought he was wonderful and wanted to tell him so. He was just delighted, and not a little surprised. Then I caught the eye of Di Trevis and we conversed for a while, which I’ll talk more about in part 2. I asked her some questions about the performance and the plans, made some jokes – she laughed- and asked her whether the actors were going to the gallery. She said yes, you should see them there.

All the cast came out on the stage to have some group photos taken ( female photography, Guylty). We stood around and watched as they waited for one last crew member – Ed- Di Trevis was yelling for Ed to come down. A few times. So I called for him also. Eventually he appeared and sprawled in front of the group for the pics. I was muttering, “stand up straight,” because once again, Richard was hunching in to fit into the frame.

source: MeandRichard.Tumblr.Com

source: MeandRichard.Tumblr.Com

When we got outside the auditorium, they were not letting people into the actual gallery. They said it was a private party. Many,many fans were in the lobby, but only some people were being allowed into the actual gallery.

Screw this, I thought. Didn’t Di Trevis just tell me to come to the gallery? So with a bit of New York moxie, I convinced the gate-keeper that I had been invited. She was ready to let me in when I told her I had two guests. We all got in and got ready to take photos and have some autographs signed ( I know, I said I wouldn’t, but this was theater and , and, too bad).

There was a bar and a dessert table. But no Richard Armitage. Then he and Annabel Capper came into the room and immediately left it so he could meet with those fans on the other side of the rope. He must have spent 30 minutes or more taking pictures, chatting and signing autographs. Meanwhile, we were right in back of him. I mean, I was right in back of him as close as though he were in a line in front of me.

I left it Zan and Judiang, and I approached Annabel Capper and asked her to sign my screen play. We chatted for a while about her performance. I joked that she was wonderful as an old woman in one short scene. I took the opportunity to speak to- sorry, I have to look it up, the actor who played Morel.

It looked like getting into the party was a bad move because we couldn’t get to Richard since we were on his side of the rope behind him. But when the crowd thinned a little, I spoke to the guard who was standing with him. I had met the guard twice before that day and I said, can you get him to turn around? And he did! I asked Richard to sign my screenplay ( I showed him where Annabel had signed and asked him to sign above it). He said do you want a picture, and I think Zan stepped forward with her phone. I said something like, “my friend is going to take the picture – just you, not me,” and he said, ” Aw Come on, you have to be in the picture with me, and he grabbed me – I am pretty sure around the waist – but I’ll have to check, and we took a picture. I think it’s a horrible one of me.

Then Zan and Judiang stepped forward for their turn and somehow I got the phone for the picture, and I am so sorry to say that I screwed it up royally. It was the only negative thing that happened all night.

We went back into the party. I had a quick drink and Richard returned to the party. I watched him for a while, but you know, I had my time, he was talking to friends and having a glass of wine, so I moved on to have another talk with Hall Hunsinger -more detailed this time about one particular scene of his ( for part 2) and he said – oh please, it was so hard to do, I must hug you, and he did. Then he asked my name. We chatted for a while and I spoke some more to Peter Clements.

I noticed the female photographer and told her that a friend of mine was also a woman in her profession and said there are still many fewer women in the field. She asked where the friend work and I told her Ireland. She said it was true and she hoped my friend was getting good gigs. I said I didn’t know, but she recently had some success in Berlin. Of course I was talking about Guylty.

I wanted to stay and I wanted to leave. Should I stay or should I go? The honest truth is, and I said it to Zan and Judiang, I can’t believe I’m leaving a party where Richard Armitage is, but I am. I’ve had it. And the truth is also, I couldn’t wait to write this post.

It was an almost perfect experience, marred only by the picture debacle. I have to say that Richard waited patiently for me to get it right, but eventually, we just gave up. I’m hoping that she might have had some better luck later in the evening.

I caught a cab right outside and was on my way home.

I will post a second post tomorrow about the actual performance, and what fun it was to meet Judiang and Zan – and whatever else I forgot.

I don’t feel the least like sleeping right now, but I’m talked out. I’m going to post this with the few typos I see. I just want to get it up and to you. I’ll edit it tomorrow.

Now I’m going to post this and relax while I read some of the other fan accounts.

103 thoughts on “I Saw Something Fine – From the second row, and more, more more Pinter/Proust Part I

  1. Pingback: I Saw Something Fine – From the second row, and more, more more Pinter/Proust Part I | I Saw Something Fine

  2. Pingback: From the second row, and more Pinter/Proust Part I | Love, Sex & Other Dirty Words

      • I can’t help thinking about the wonderful timing of this performance, happening during our #RAflash week. We certainly have seen, heard and read some of what is fine about our lovely man….his talent and enthusiasm in his work, and his generosity and sweetness with his fans.

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  3. Wow, that’s a lot of words you just got off your chest there, Perry- good job. So pleased to hear all the details of your night- you’re one lucky lady!

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  4. I’ve loved your pieces building up to tonight’s production, and this (supposedly) hurried account of the actual evening did not disappoint. I confess that I’ve also gone to see productions solely for one performer and become engaged by the others. Then I’d be reminded of why I was there in the first place, and would remember to re-direct my focus to both the overall production and my guy (no pun intended).

    But of everything you wrote, I can’t stop smiling at this:
    “Would he have come into the row facing me or backing in. I’ll never know, but I’m thinking about it a lot.”

    It makes me smile because that’s precisely one of the kinds of things that I’d be thinking about. Naturally, either way would have been fine with me, but it’s fun to ponder. Silly, I know. But it’s how I make it through the day.

    Cheers, Perry. I look forward to your reports tomorrow!

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    • Thank you so much. Yeah, I can’t get that out of my mind. And I did get to talk with him and all the rest – but that one thought – of big him climbing over that little old later and trying to get past me – oy. But he was quicker than the other actor and saw the problem.

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  5. My heart is racing after reading this account. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep now either! Also, I too would have laughed out loud at the pirate bit – I’m still smiling because you did! This is wonderful. I look forward to part II. Sweet dreams. 😉

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  6. Thanks for your report Perry. It’s so wonderful because I can feel you wrote with your heart! An immediate reaction to the overwhelming feelings of this great experience you had. I’m eager to read your in deep analysis of the play. There is much time for clever and colder description of the evening. But this post is precious, more important than every other thing. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us. Try to sleep and sweet dreams 🙂

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    • Thanks you. And you were right that he was in the LAMDA production and right that there would be no narrator and you were tight about a third thing that I just can’t recall right now. So, I thought of you also during the evening.

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  7. Perry, how did you ever manage to keep it together and write such a coherent post after what you had experienced. (I certainly couldn’t in Berlin – my mind was swirling, and I hadn’t even talked to him…). Anyway, thank you so much for this detailed account. It is exactly what I was hoping for – intense observations of the play and the actors (one actor in particular *ggg*) and some candid emotional responses. (Plus, can I disclose that I am chuffed you thought of little old me while being there? It’s almost as if you have transported me into the event. Bless! – You don’t happen to know who the photographer is and where and whether her images are going to appear? It would be great to see her hard work’s fruit.)
    Very much looking forward to your further observations.
    Oh, and btw – Kudos for engaging with all the cast members. I sometimes find it unfair how one person can overshadow the work of all the other artists, regardless of how good *he* was. It’s so important to give credit to *all* who deserve, and I am glad you spoke to Travis and Hunsinger! An actor is only as good as the colleagues he plays off of.

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    • Lots to answer, here. There will no doubt be pictures posted on the Y website, as they do for all their events,or sometimes the pics are posted on Broadway.com. I’m sure the photog will be credited, but it’s possible she did other pics for the Y, so if you check their site, you might find out her name.
      About talking to the other cast: first, I did want to tell them how much I enjoyed their work, and they were eager to talk. I had really decent conversations with all of those I approached, and second, I couldn’t help thinking that this is something Richard would want to happen – that his colleagues get their due as well.
      I channeled many RA fans throughout the evening: You, Fedora Lady, Agzy, Servetus, Micra, MarieAstra, Morrighan, Sahraobsessed, Frenz and Crystal – are the ones I can think of now. Involuntary memories -just like Proust.
      As to the post, it isn’t looking that coherent to me – but I’m going in to WP now to make the corrections. I can’t bear looking at them.
      Oh, and I will say that in writing the post, I was guided by so many of the fan accounts I’ve read over time – accounts which brought me there – and that’s what I wanted to achieve. I can think of KatharineD’s post of SuperCon and the recent Popcorn Taxi event, Young Elevenwings ( SAM),yours of Berlin, Crystal’s from the L.A, Premiere, Mulubinba from Wellington just recently, to name a few.

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      • Well, your account was certainly very enjoyable to read and full of interesting observations. And I have to agree, I had to think of many fellow RA fans when I was at the red carpet. I couldn’t help thinking of all the friends who had been encouraging me along.
        I love reading extensive accounts like the ones you mentioned where I can read more than just the bits about him, but also about the other people who were there, celebs and fans.
        Looking forward to part 2 and to Zan’s and Judiang’s observations.

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  8. Your excitement is seeping through the screen! Hope you managed to get some sleep.

    /Richard asked you to take a photo with him. Whoa!/

    Everything I’ve seen/read so far says it’s been a fantastic experience, on and off stage.

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    • It was my pleasure to do so. I was crazed to get home and post this. Maybe I’m right that the blogging and the community is as, or more driving than Richard Armitage- because I left him to write this! Gotta think about that. Your Wellington post was an inspiration.

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us… I could only take a glimpse of the man at the Berlin-event and I´m still mesmerized, and that was nothing compared to your evening, you lucky girl.
    Can´t await the second part of your record 🙂

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing! I was lucky enough to meet him in Madrid, but watching him act live must have been just amazing. I’m looking forward to part II 🙂

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  11. I really enjoyed this post, not only for the events that transpired but because I saw a lot more of *you* in this retelling 😎
    when you delivered the line “I’d be dead now” I laughed out loud, but then the actual meeting with Richard: when he said “aww come on, you have to be in the picture with me” I died for you 😮
    thank you so much for sharing your story, and in such detail. if I were to ever attend something like this, I’d be much to shy to engage with others in the way that you did, so I enjoyed living through you 😀

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    • Thanks Kelbel. Your thoughts here mean a lot to me. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Part of my professional experience has included entering a room where there’s nobody I know and having to engage with people. I’m sure that helped in this situation. And so sorry your comments wound up in SPAM. Your two comments on beards were in there also. I always answer every first comment in a post, so if it happens again, drop a line. And I will make it a point to check the Spam folder.

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  12. Perry–You have my vote for JOURNALIST of the Year! You hit all the high points, didn’t drool down the front of your shirt, and sounded like you were totally the perfect invited guest! Thanks. I guess I should quit hogging the canapés now. (I feel like I was there.)

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    • I wish there were canapes. It was a dessert table. Very lovely to look at. Tiny little bites of mousse in cups with tiny spoons, mini cakes, bite-sized fruits on a pick, that sort of thing. And plenty of wine. Thank you for your thoughts. Now I have to go back and correct the post.I shuddered when I read it this morning.

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  13. Great reportage, Perry! Your description & detail is excellent and thanks for sharing the night with us! I’m so glad you got to go — and for all the little bumps from the Universe (great seats!) that made it super fine! 🙂

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  14. Wow! Now that I’ve read your account I’m really in awe! Well done! A once in a lifetime opportunity! LOL about not being able to look at him because you were so close! I was not, so I stared at him all the time he was on stage! 😀 Congrats on a well-played evening!!

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    • Thanks Marie. Yes, I thought of you because I think he and I were positioned exactly as you and he were for the Fan Event, and so you know that the theater is not that dark there at the front. I know he had other things to think about – like acting,for instance, but I still tried to be discrete. Lucky for me I have great peripheral vision.

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  15. Oh, this is marvelous!! Thank you so much… it’s almost as though we were there with you. Makes it much less vexing to be stuck a million states away. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! xo

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  16. I would like to add my thanks for sharing your experience last night, something really special to remembered that’s for sure! Kindest regards Meryl

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  18. Reads like you had a really great evening, and having the chance to listen to Richard and watching him moving around over a longer period, and finally ending up being so close to him, sounds positively heaven. Blimey, you lucky ones! Perry, you seemed to be all there to come up with this report from the play/event straight after you’ve returned home last night. Thanks and very well done! Me, actually sitting here a bit pouting…. 😉

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    • OK. You can sit with me. But I’m coming in with you. What an amazing story you had. And yes – you had to sit one seat over. Absolutely it was the right choice.

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  23. Can I just say, before reading any of the comments, how much I enjoyed reading this post Perry, and vicariously experiencing the event! Am on holiday at the moment, at the beach, so completely missed all the build up. Have also appreciated your literature /screenplay analysis – have not read Proust, but am interested now.

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