“Staged” has a Facebook Page. Will A DVD Reissue Be Far Behind?

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Director Darren Denison has launched a Facebook page devoted to his short film, Staged of the short film Staged starring Richard Armitage and Jennifer Taylor Lawrence.

Here’s the first post:

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Staged: The Movie Facebook Page

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I Wonder What the Story Was, or do I Know?

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Richard Armitage and  Phoebe Craddock, from the uncut version of Staged.

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This scene is in the Trailer, but not the film. Seems like consoling going on. But not by “Darryl’s” co-star

stageddroppedcene3Capture

In the trailer for Staged these still pictures appear, but neither they nor any scene like this is in the short film. Perhaps it’s on the cutting room floor. I think this actress is named Phoebe Paddock – she appears in the credits as “Wanda,” and although her face seems very familiar to me, her name doesn’t show up on IMDB or elsewhere that I can find, so far.[ETA: Thanks to I.F.’s comment, her name is Phoebe Craddock.]

I’m intrigued. Just where did Wanda fit into the story and why was the scene cut? Why did the director make the choices he did? The dynamic between Darryl (Armitage) and Lisa (Jennifer Taylor Lawrence) might be very different with another woman in the picture – or is “Wanda” just someone Darryl picked up during the rehearsal?

Don’t know.

Perry: Back Where She Started

The universe is telling me  to mark my 7 month blogging anniversary by posting something about Staged, the short film directed by Darren Denison in 1999, starring Richard Armitage and Jennifer Taylor Lawrence.

Source: Denison Entertainment Facebook Page

Source: Denison Entertainment Facebook Page

Last week I re-published my maiden blogpost  Staged is Here and So Is Armitage Agonistes.– It contained no discussion of Staged at all. I hadn’t received my DVD yet and anyway, I lacked the confidence to add my opinion to that of more experienced bloggers and Armitage watchers who posted their reviews.  [X] [XX], [XXX to cite a few]

Add to that, the past two weeks  which have seen me  immersed in the staged  reading of The Proust Screenplay, marking Richard Armitage’s return to live theater for the first time since  the Old Vic 24 Hour Plays in 2010.

Finally,  Staged itself takes place, for the most part, on a theater stage and is a bit of a play within a film – anyway, Richard Armitage spends most of the 12 or so minutes “on stage.”

In Staged , a divorced couple, actors, reunite for a stage play about a “scornful and forbidden affair.” Darryl (Richard Armitage) was a brilliant stage actor who found his way to Hollywood movies, the last  few of which bombed. He sees this play as a chance to get back to his theater roots and jump start his career.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. (I’ve chosen  not  to upload the film. Darren Denison charged a nominal amount for the DVDs and, financially, it was probably more trouble than it was worth. But I suggest for new fans that you get on his Facebook page or twitter and ask him to consider another printing. Go to his Facebook page anyway, and see what he’s been doing. You’ll find out about Jennifer Taylor Lawrence, as well.)

Lisa, Darryls’s ex-wife, seems more successful in the film’s present, and there’s some hint that she may be doing the play to help Darryl along. Their marriage ended because she had an affair that was splashed over  the tabloid headlines and, according to Darryl, he never forgives betrayal. Still, the heat between them seems palpable as they negotiate dangerous terrain.

I wonder now whether Denison found his inspiration from real life –  from one of the greatest romances of the twentieth century. In 1983, twice divorced Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor reunited on stage for a production, produced by Taylor, of Noel Coward’s Private Lives, a talky comedy about a divorced couple who had new partners.  This episode in their lives was recently made into a BBCA mini-series, Burton and Taylor  (available on-demand if you have BBCA. ) Source material for the mini-series came, in part, from Richard Burton’s diary.

It was widely believed at the time that Liz Taylor mounted the production to help Burton who wanted to get back into theater, and was planning to play King Lear. The success of the play was far more important to Burton than Taylor.  Taylor’s  secondary motive was to get close to Burton again. Promotional material for the play, somewhat shamelessly, capitalized on the couple’s relationship. staged2doubleplaybills Numerous lines in Private Lives applied to the Burton/Taylor relationship and audiences ate it up, notwithstanding that the play got poor reviews across the board.  

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Denison’s 13 minutes of Staged found it’s roots in the Taylor/Burton story.

I knew nothing about that this when I first saw Staged.  As a new fan, I was mostly bowled over by Armitage’s  sex appeal, and I found it wanting in Staged. I didn’t like the hair, the clothes, the body wasn’t what I was used to. ( I had the same issues with Between the Sheets when I first saw it).  On top of that, there were some awful lines of dialogue and questionable acting.

Instead of concentrating on Richard Armitage, I was trying to figure out what was going on. For one, I detected an American accent in Richard Armitage’s first lines – and in Jennifer Lawrence’s. It was not easy to discern when they were rehearsing the play and when they were acting in the present real life. It would make sense to differentiate the time by having them utilize different accents.

Not everyone agrees about the accents, but I’m convinced. The problem is, the only time I detected the American accent was in the first lines of the play. I thought Jennifer Lawrence’s accent was obvious and well done. Armitage on the the other hand was, problematic. I think he effected a southern accent made prominent by how he pronounced the word ” I” as closer to “Ah” ( “Ah have always depended on the kindness of strangers” – Blanche Duboise) and his slowed down, lilting diction. Except for the first few lines, all other rehearsal scenes from “the play” had no dialogue, so there were no other comparisons possible.

You decide.  Three words are inaudible. If anyone has a better copy and can let us know what those missing words are, I’d be interested. When you play this, turn the volume down. It’s less grating and easier to hear.  You may want to listen to that moan a few times. Not that it’ll tell you anything about the accent,but the man can moan. [ETA: Thanks to MorrighansMuse for working out a better recording for me. In this one, the first part, up to about 50 is the American Accent. After that, they are playing in real life, and I think you can hear the difference, especially in Richard’s pronunciation of the long “I”sound.]

So, the discussion is open again.

 

Watching Staged again  was informative, but after seeing Armitage in The Proust Screenplay and in person,   for me there’s no doubt.  He’s better, in every way, with age.  Open him up and let him breathe – that’s what I want to do.


Swann’s Kiss by Chrissy Lampard. Darryl’s Kiss, my own screencap.

Replay: Staged is here and so is Armitage Agonistes (RAFlash)

I saw something fineCapture

I’m struggling a little over Part 3 of my story describing the events of Thursday’s reading of The Proust Screenplay, including discussion of Richard Armitage’s performance. The difficulty is occasioned by the release of the coveted videos of the performance. I want to write what my recollections are: how I saw it the first time live- from my heart – but my brain is getting in the way, in a manner of speaking.  If you can watch the video, why read me describing it? So, while I figure out how to deal with this ( I have some ideas), I thought I would add to the library of the RAFlash Fan event anyway.

Below is my first post ever as an Armitage blogger. The post describes how I was bitten by Richard Armitage as Lucas North, yes. And it was fine.  

Also fine was what I saw and experienced in the Armitage fandom. I speak so honestly when I say that sometimes I was sure it was the fan experience as I was living it,  the blogging,  exchange of ideas, the community, the sharing, the teamwork, that fueled  my fan activities – even more than  Richard Armitage himself.  The RAFlash event is a prime example of this sense of community – how, when we were in a slump after all the DOS excitement, anticipating a drought, watching our guy get the sort of publicity he abhors, one germ of an idea took hold in Frenz’s head  and started to turn it around.  So many got involved in the event, to get back to roots and celebrate what brought us together in the first place.  It’s what feeds me. 

And fate was with us, too, when the Proust reading came into the mix. Unexpected. Out of the Blue. A live stage performance and the technology to share it with everyone after all, through blog accounts and social media, though video and images. Again, it was this strong, talented and tenacious fandom that made it possible.

I’ve been lurking around the Richard Armitage fandom for a number of months and decided to take the leap. I don’t honestly know how well I’ll do in maintaining Armitage Agonistes, but if the 25 plus hours I’ve spent beginning to learn WordPress and trying to complete my first substantive post ( due shortly?) is going to pay off, I hope I’ll be here for a while. Hours have been spent working with various themes, unsuccessfully trying to get text to wrap around images and embedding workable links – but I have hope. Since I entered the fandom in April, I’ve been scrutinizing the work of Richard Armitage, reading current and archived blogs, fansites and fanfiction (in all flavors) and commenting shamelessly -sort  of free-loading on the hard work and ideas of others.

Unlike many recent fans, it was not Richard Armitage’s role in The Hobbit that drew me in. I hadn’t seen The Hobbit and I had no intention of doing so.  I tried to watch the second Lord of the Rings movie- on TV, with commercials and with no context. I lasted about 15 minutes. So The Hobbit was definitely not on my list, despite its reduced price on cable. ( foolish perry, did  you ever think you would be glued to your laptop waiting for a certain trailer to appear on a Friday at 1 P.M. or continually, obsessively checking websites to see if a certain Production Blog had been released?)

For many longer- tenured fans, it was North and South  that changed their lives. I first saw North and South two years ago when I treated myself to a slothful weekend in bed experimenting with streaming Netflix on my laptop.   I’m a marathon sort of viewer. I see something I like and I completely immerse myself in it- I’ll watch every episode of a series before I go on to something else. So, when I embarked on a marathon of BBC period dramas it was inevitable that I would find myself watching North and South. (oops-this pic is a bit larger than I wanted).

I was knocked off my feet- or would have been if I weren’t prone in bed with the laptop on my stomach. I watched it twice, moved on to Poldark, and that was that.

Fast forward to April of this year when I was restricted to bed rest  -this time for legitimate reasons. My brother surprised me with a fabulous TV upgrade and installed a Roku box so I would have plenty to watch over the two weeks. I found Spooks/MI5– which I never was too interested in when it aired on A & E a few years ago. I was delighted to find Matthew MacFadyen as Tom Quinn. I love Pride and Prejudice in all its its incarnations- from the Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson version to the Colin Firth and thought MacFadyen did a credible job in making me see Darcy in a new way. So I plodded through, series after series until I got to the moment when – well, you know when. spooks701_002From the second that black hood revealed Richard Armitage as Lucas North I was lost, gone. “I know that guy! “Who is that Guy” (I’ve read more than a few almost identical fan accounts of that first Lucas North reveal)  This propelled me to my laptop, where I learned that I was indeed seeing again that same  smoldering, smokey Mr. Thornton who so engaged me two years earlier, but I also learned that “that guy” was that “Guy” (of  Gisborne) who would be keeping me company in another 30 hours or so after I finished all of Spooks.  Ugh, I thought , I’m  going to have to watch Robin Hood. I wasn’t sure I could. But we know now, we’ll watch or listen to anything Armitage does. In dry spells I’ve listened to his commercial voice overs, and by the way, the jewelry ones are really sexy,  his voice like a rich veloute. And you know I skipped season 10 and went right to RH.

I couldn’t get enough Richard Armitage, and so, I discovered the world of fandom. my first experience in an E community. I continue to derive hours of pleasure reading and watching what others write , think and create. -So many different backgrounds, countries, speaking a variety of languages, promoting a variety of points of view, styles and interests.( nothwithstanding  that a certain someone believes that we’re all middle aged, well-educated ladies)

So, who am I and what can you expect from Armitage Agonistes? My gravatar tells you a little about me – enough for now. And there’s a hint or two in my language use. From the blog, I hope that at least occasionally I spark something that interests you, a point of view or discrete nugget that you haven’t come across before , particularly in the older work since for me, it’s a new discovery. Mostly everything’s been addressed at least once.  For a while I was hung up on Richard Armitage’s underarm and forearm hair (the color, which looked very blond) and the appearance and disappearance of chest hair. Darned if someone didn’t lead me in the right direction to find out that I wasn’t the first or even the second to think about it.

I have a post in the works on a Lucas North issue. I will master links and wrap around text.(why this image below refuses to cooperate is a mystery. ) I will figure out how to change the time of the post to the accurate time ( it’s 9:10 a.m. here and I’ve been at this one post since 2 a.m. I will explain the Blog title, sort of and-I will answer the buzzer because I’m pretty certain the doorman is going to tell me there’s a package- a certain DVD that may or may not work in my laptop DVD. I’ve been avoiding  my favorite blogs because I don’t want spoilers.

Lifting the Sheet on “Between the Sheets”

SPOILER ALERT!

I’ve had it in my mind to write about “Between the Sheets,” (2003) and Richard Armitage’s performance as Paul Andrews since before I started this blog. BTS is one of his earliest major roles, chronologically lodged after “Sparkhouse” (2002) and “Cold Feet” (2002) and before “North and South,” so, it is an early work, but not so early that it doesn’t warrant

Courtesy of RichardArmitageCentral.net

Courtesy of RichardArmitageCentral.net

examination for anyone interested in Richard Armitage’s development as an actor. What connection his Paul Andrews had to their decision to cast him as John Thornton may remain a mystery, but one would also think that the producers of “North and South” at least looked at BTS when they considered Mr.  Armitage for the role.

Therefore, it baffles me  that BTS is the least written about major role that Mr. Armitage has played. I have to wonder, what gives?

Very little has been written about the mini-series at all, despite its highly credentialed creator, Kay Mellor, directors, Jane Prowse, Robin Shepperd and cast, including Brenda Blethyn, Alun Armstrong and Julie Graham. I could find no contemporary reviews of the work as a whole and only two blog articles.

Ms. Mellor’s production company Rollem,  bills BTS  as an exploration of “the seldom talked-of topic of what makes us function sexually. Why are we attracted to people we shouldn’t be and what makes one person turn us on when another can leave us cold? and  “Are we obsessed with Sex? It might seem that way . . . . Between the Sheets takes us under the covers and explores what is really going on in the bedroom.”

Hazel Fantasizes About Her Gamekeeper

Hazel Fantasizes About Her Gamekeeper

Well, maybe, if frigidity and impotence are  what’s really going on in the bedroom.

Familiarity with the story is presumed, but briefly, BTS follows two couples who are sexually dysfunctional with each other, four couples who aren’t and two couples whose sexual encounters occurred in the past. In some cases, there’s an overlap in partners. Alona (Julie Graham), a healthily sexed sex therapist is struggling with the impotence of her live-in partner Paul ( Richard Armitage), who, when the story opens, has been accused by an under-aged girl of acting sexually inappropriately to her in his capacity as her juvenile probation officer. Hazel is a wealthy 60 something middle-aged wife who hasn’t had sex with her philandering husband, Peter, in 7 years. Hazel and Peter seek therapy from Alona who tries to awaken Hazel’s sexual desire through talk and exercise.

Alona and Paul also seek sexual counseling. In addition, Alona’s 18 year old son is having sex with the 20- something au pair, Peter and Hazel’s grown son is having sex with Peter’s former mistress,  (after Peter throws over his long-time girlfriend -but not until they’ve had some standing up sex) Hazel is having sex with herself and with the the council wildlife officer (think, Mellors, Lady Chatterly’s gamekeeper) and Peter’s octogenarian mother is having sex with a new partner. Characters are talking frankly about sex and engaging in it as well.

Paul and Alona, Part 5

Paul and Alona, Part 5

There are numerous scenes depicting relatively graphic sex including intercourse in a variety of positions, unmistakable allusions and reactions to oral sex, masturbation, foreplay and nudity. As in real life, not all of this occurs between the sheets or even near a bed.

So I wonder whether his nudity and sex acting is the reason for the paucity of analysis and discussion among writers who usually dig deep and thoroughly into Mr. Armitage’s work?  Is too much shown? Is too much said? Is the actor not believable? Is it the lack of chemistry between the partners? The missing romance? And is this too painful to watch multiple times in order to write about it with a close eye?

Sex may not be the reason at all why Between the Sheets has been ignored. Maybe it’s that Richard Armitage is playing such an unlikable and unsympathetic character. Paul Andrews, who is accused of using his position of trust as a juvenile probation officer to have sex with one of his 15 years old clients, at least in the first part, is written and portrayed as a weak, whining and immature man – like an adolescent caught by Mom trying to sneak out the window, in counterpoint to the strong, controlling Alona. Early on, he seems to be almost crying when confronted by Alona as he first denies then tries to explain away what he says happened between Tracy and him.

At timea, Paul acts younger and more immature than Alona’s 18 year old son. Even if he is innocent of the charges, (and it is the writer’s intent to keep us guessing for most of the series) Paul’s not dealing with the situation in an adult fashion. This underscores the role-reversal of Alona and Paul’s relationship, in which she is the dominant, more experienced take-charge partner and he, passive, goes along. Starting at disk 2, Paul’s entire demeanor and attitude changes and he shows us more of the fellow we get a glimpse of in a flashback from 8 years earlier when the pair first met.

Paul Hunts Alona

Paul Hunts Alona

But, characters we abhor have as much to add to a full understanding of an actor’s growth as do performances of characters we admire.

On its own, Between the Sheets, though probably over-ambitious, is pithy, both for themes and topics it addresses, and those it skirts. On the one hand, it’s primarily a chic flic, on the other hand, there are some disturbing anti-feminist aspects to the work, for example the secondary theme of sexual harassment that is given lip service, but mostly is utilized as a source of humor. There is the orchestrated parallel between Hazel’s experience and “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” which raises the question whether there is also a “Lolita” parallel. There are many juicy nuggets, literary devices, that add interest to the piece: recurring metaphors, such as the herons Peter desperately longs to see return and Alona’s incessant application of lip balm. There are the reverse image relationships Peter/Hazel and Alona/Paul. And there is the mystery running through the plot, complete with red herrings: is Tracy falsely accusing Paul? Are they both liars? Does it make a difference? How do the writers play with the viewer in how they reveal the facts? There’s a lot here- perhaps too much.

There are some high points in Richard Armitage’s Between the Sheets performance, though there are certainly instances of overacting, over emotionalism, lack of polish, but even if true, the work warrants a closer critical look to appreciate how far he has come, to detail the modifications in his style, to identify tools and mannerisms he has retained or discarded. This is even more pertinent now that “Staged” has been released, because Darryl and Paul have much in common as characters and there’s a progression to be examined. So, get out the DVDs or log on to You Tube for the PG version. A look between the sheets is next.
Comments Closed Until Then.

“Staged” is Here, and so is Armitage Agonistes

I’ve been lurking around the Richard Armitage fandom for a number of months and decided to take the leap. I don’t honestly know how well I’ll do in maintaining Armitage Agonistes, but if the 25 plus hours I’ve spent beginning to learn WordPress and trying to complete my first substantive post ( due shortly?) is going to pay off, I hope I’ll be here for a while. Hours have been spent working with various themes, unsuccessfully trying to get text to wrap around images and embedding workable links – but I have hope. Since I entered the fandom in April, I’ve been scrutinizing the work of Richard Armitage, reading current and archived blogs, fansites and fanfiction (in all flavors) and commenting shamelessly -sort  of free-loading on the hard work and ideas of others.

Unlike many recent fans, it was not Richard Armitage’s role in The Hobbit that drew me in. I hadn’t seen The Hobbit and I had no intention of doing so.  I tried to watch the second Lord of the Rings movie- on TV, with commercials and with no context. I lasted about 15 minutes. So The Hobbit was definitely not on my list, despite it’s reduced price on cable. ( foolish perry, did  you ever think you would be glued to your laptop waiting for a certain trailer to appear on a Friday at 1 P.M. or continually, obsessively checking websites to see if a certain Production Blog had been released?)

For many longer- tenured fans, it was North and South  that changed their lives. I first saw North and South two years ago when I treated myself to a slothful weekend in bed experimenting with streaming Netflix on my laptop.   I’m a marathon sort of viewer. I see something I like and I completely immerse myself in it- I’ll watch every episode of a series before I go on to something else. So, when I embarked on a marathon of BBC period dramas it was inevitable that I would find myself watching North and South. (oops-this pic is a bit larger than I wanted).

I was knocked off my feet- or would have been if I weren’t prone in bed with the laptop on my stomach. I watched it twice, moved on to Poldark, and that was that.

Fast forward to April of this year when I was restricted to bed rest  -this time for legitimate reasons. My brother surprised me with a fabulous TV upgrade and installed a Roku box so I would have plenty to watch over the two weeks. I found Spooks/MI5– which I never was too interested in when it aired on A & E a few years ago. I was delighted to find Matthew MacFadyen as Tom Quinn. I love Pride and Prejudice in all its its incarnations- from the Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson version to the Colin Firth and thought MacFadyen did a credible job in making me see Darcy in a new way. So I plodded through, series after series until I got to the moment when – well, you know when. spooks701_002From the second that black hood revealed Richard Armitage as Lucas North I was lost, gone. “I know that guy! “Who is that Guy” (I’ve read more than a few almost identical fan accounts of that first Lucas North reveal)  This propelled me to my laptop, where I learned that I was indeed seeing again that same  smoldering, smokey Mr. Thornton who so engaged me two years earlier, but I also learned that “that guy” was that “Guy” (of  Gisborne) who would be keeping me company in another 30 hours or so after I finished all of Spooks.  Ugh, I thought , I’m  going to have to watch Robin Hood. I wasn’t sure I could. But we know now, we’ll watch or listen to anything Armitage does. In dry spells I’ve listened to his commercial voice overs, and by the way, the jewelry ones are really sexy,  his voice like a rich veloute. And you know I skipped season 10 and went right to RH.

I couldn’t get enough Richard Armitage, and so, I discovered the world of fandom. my first experience in an E community. I continue to derive hours of pleasure reading and watching what others write , think and create. -So many different backgrounds, countries, speaking a variety of languages, promoting a variety of points of view, styles and interests.( nothwithstanding  that a certain someone believes that we’re all middle aged, well-educated ladies)

So, who am I and what can you expect from Armitage Agonistes? My gravatar tells you a little about me – enough for now. And there’s a hint or two in my language use. From the blog, I hope that at least occasionally I spark something that interests you, a point of view or discrete nugget that you haven’t come across before , particularly in the older work since for me, it’s a new discovery. Mostly everything’s been addressed at least once.  For a while I was hung up on Richard Armitage’s underarm and forearm hair (the color, which looked very blond) and the appearance and disappearance of chest hair. Darned if someone didn’t lead me in the right direction to find out that I wasn’t the first or even the second to think about it.

I have a post in the works on a Lucas North issue. I will master links and wrap around text.(why this image below refuses to cooperate is a mystery. ) I will figure out how to change the time of the post to the accurate time ( it’s 9:10 a.m. here and I’ve been at this one post since 2 a.m. I will explain the Blog title, sort of and-I will answer the buzzer because I’m pretty certain the doorman is going to tell me there’s a package- a certain DVD that may or may not work in my laptop DVD. I’ve been avoiding  my favorite blogs because I don’t want spoilers.

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Empire Express, Raul Colon

Empire Express, Raul Colon