As a final instalment of the deRAnged series – it really is high time to put it all to bed and return to sanity – I want to finish up with a summary of my three stage door experiences courtesy of Old Vic/The Crucible/Richard Armitage/the fans. Because I really had to put my successive SD experiences into perspective, and it was interesting how the experience changed from the first via the second to the third time. Jump to the various headings for a quicker way through.
Stage Door 1 – August 1st
Initially I had huge difficulties with the SD. The lasting memory was one of embarrassment. So much so that my first blog post about it was an
easily seen through attempt at irony. It seemed incongruous for my self-image to queue for any man, however famous and talented and coveted he might be. And the only way I could write about it seemed to be to make fun of it me. But I was quickly convinced that an honest recount of the experience would not be held against me, and so I admitted my embarrassment – and my eventual pleasure at having overcome my inhibitions.
Stage Door 2 – August 25th
With that in mind my second stage door experience was quite different. And in hindsight this is my favourite SD experience of all three. You see, once you have lost your reputation, you have nothing left to lose.
Why does that remind me of Proctor? “Because it is my name” Hmph, methinks Proctor would not have risked his good name at the SD *ggg*. No, seriously. With a previous SD experience behind me, it didn’t feel difficult at all to decide to do it a second time. I had survived the embarrassment and even found some redeeming features in the experience. So when I was in London with Servetus, there was no question that I would suggest queuing at the SD, and to my surprise Servetus agreed. And yet it was a completely different experience even though the same ingredients were there – a long queue of admirers, a fast and modest RA, an efficient security guard, and a self-awareness that was still nagging and niggling. What made it different was the fact that I had nothing to achieve. I was only there as a companion. I didn’t want to see for myself, really. I was very happy to take on the job as designated photographer, and I happily snapped Serv with RA. Like before it was over in a flash – quite literally – and RA moved on to the next fan in line. But that is when the experience became meaningful for me, even though only as an onlooker. Because behind me in the queue stood a fan who took the time to quickly introduce herself to RA and whom he recognised. Instead of the automatic “Thank you” he actually looked up to connect the gaze and to say “Oh, it’s so nice to meet you!!! Thank you for coming.” None of that was directed at me, but it was just lovely to witness it. The fact that he remembered her, and the fact that he took the time to acknowledge that. It made me feel delighted for her and left me feeling all warm and happy, almost giddy. As if it had been me. And maybe I felt a bit happy for him, too, in the sense that there was something a bit more meaningful in it for him, knowing that this particular person had gone to the trouble of seeing him at the stage door? Not to discredit any of us unknowns, but there are many of us…
Stage Door 3 – September 3rd
Stage Door #3 was different yet again. Because finally I felt such an old hand at this game that I could actually laugh about the curious glances that I noticed from a woman in a car that was queueing at the traffic lights. This time I accompanied Kathy and Linda60 to the SD, and my heartrate was even slower than the second time. Been there, done that. (Has anyone got a t-shirt, btw? Maybe we should identify ourselves with *that*?
Oh cod oh cod, no, not another can of worms. I am just joking!!!) And I felt almost scientifically detached from the event a la “I wonder how fast he will be this time… Which phrases is he going to use… And will he look up?” I had no investment in this, so it was ok to lean back against the brick wall and just let the ocean fall over me. Of course there was giddiness again, but in the event it once again was so fast there was no time to think. I found myself so cool a cucumber, that I actually opted to “interact” and ask for an autograph on my ticket. And I had no camera in hand. Guylty truly left her comfort zone. Score!
— Guylty Pleasure (@GuyltyPleasure) September 3, 2014
So. Three different SD experiences. From excited teenager via happy fan to detached onlooker. And what was it like from RA’s POV? No way of knowing. But I am sure he’s learnt a great deal from the experience. Not least that his public life as he previously knew it may definitely be over? The early SD as it happened in London during the previews by all accounts must have been a special thing. I bet that most of us were kicking ourselves that we didn’t cop on to be there for the early shows – where interaction at the SD was unexpected, unhurried and relaxed. Well, that’s the benefit of hindsight. I suspect that that kind of SD will not happen again. It was the first time that Mr A had to deal with public interest in such a way, and that accounted for the experimentation with SD processes until it settled into a routine pretty quickly. They had it sussed out very nicely – all three nights I was there passed without incident, the atmosphere was happy and relaxed (if giddy), and everybody behaved according to the unwritten script. (Servetus described it in detail in a recent post here. )
There were a few accounts of the final SD on the last night of TC that sounded
a bit unpleasant. (cf. the very detailed, interesting and thought-provoking post by Lyle Quillmark here. Masses of fans, shoving, shouting, demands. But frankly, I don’t think that we need to switch APM on. Armitage was well-covered by his security guys – and he must be used to this by now. Granted, in a way this was different from (regular) RA-fan interaction before as there had never been a need for a prolonged SD before. But it was also the same: The way the Saturday night was described by fans reminds me of the situation at the red carpet. Pushing, shoving, crowds surging, shouts. The only difference being that there is a barrier at the red carpet that holds the crowds back. So in that respect I think that RA is sort of prepared for crowd reactions to him. He has seen it before. The stage door at the Old Vic was, like the red carpet, a *controlled space*, i.e. what happens at the SD was determined by RA and his team themselves. They were able retreat any time they wanted. And they did. That does not mean I condone bad behaviour or pushing and overstepping the limits of polite, respectful interaction. But I trust that Richard’s babysitters security advisors know exactly how to interpret the situation and to act accordingly. That is what the reactions of “Ola” looked like to me – carefully ushering RA on, treating the fans respectfully and politely, and thereby setting the tone for the event themselves.
It’s been a learning curve – for fans, for RA, for venues. I still think RA is the bees’ knees for steadfastly
facing gracing his well-wishers after each and every performance. He missed one evening SD when he had to go to the US for the ITS premiere. But otherwise: there without fail, even on the night when the performance was cancelled. Moreover, he gave credit to his stage door facilitator, “that-polite-security-guard” aka Ola, and sent other staff in the Old Vic flowers as a thank you. Honestly, the man needs to be stopped. He’s killing me with his kindness *ggg*.
“Thank you Richard, once again. I think you did splendidly, on- and off-stage. I hope you had a good time and that you took the SD for what it is – a show of support and appreciation, even if also laced with a bit of voyeurism and curiosity. We meant well. And from my POV you definitely deserve a medal. Or this t-shirt. (E-mail me your size and it’ll be delivered to you, pronto *ggg*. In organic cotton.)”
So. That is the end of the deRAnged series which looked at my concentrated fangirling between the 25th of August and the 4th of September. A litmus test of fangirling if there ever was one *ggg*. You can catch the whole saga here: