Continuing on with my contribution to FanstRAvaganza 3:
I’m not going to pretend I understand all there is to know about Richard Armitage. Someone said earlier it would take at least a “40 parter” for that. May I suggest the parts would be infinite. I believe that’s the case for all of us. We are all complex. Some just make themselves look simple and in the doing of that lose our interest. Just know that this series is my attempt to shed a little light on what I’ve learned about this fascination with Richard and his characters. Also, there is no way I can do justice to Constantin Stanislavski, Bertold Brecht or Edward Gordon Craig within the confines of a blog post nor even a week of blogging on them. But I can highlight some salient points with respect to our guy.
When I first became aware of Richard Armitage, I just let myself enjoy the sensations his performances created in me. My greed for those feelings had me watching some of his shows over and over and over, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to feel like I was taking a drug. I’m fairly sure I appeared slack jawed to anyone who might have observed me in the process or shortly thereafter. And each time I came down from the high, I would intensely question myself about it. A common question was: how old am I? Never mind. :D The point is that I was old enough to know better than to be silly about some actor.
After I passed the initial euphoria, I had to explain (at least to myself) what had created it. A good looking guy with a great voice in a romantic role? That was it? I’m not quite so air headed or needy for male affirmation that it would generate this reaction. So I went in search of others who had a similar reaction. I lurked the forums for months, and there were some wonderful fan writings about the impressions Richard Armitage had made. Many others were overwhelmed by what they were seeing, but none of them (at least that I read) captured what was niggling in my brain, and candidly, I became frustrated by some of the rhapsodizing. I wanted it to answer me, and it just seemed like some were the same things said about every other good looking or compelling actor. I did watch other actors I appreciate for comparison — Edward Norton in ‘American History X,’ Gary Oldman in ‘My Immortal Beloved,’ Sean Penn in ‘Dead Man Walking,’ Russell Crow in ‘The Insider,’ Daniel Day-Lewis in ‘My Left Foot,’ ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being,’ and ‘In the Name of the Father’ and even Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ All great performances, but it was abundantly clear they all had great writing and/or stories to propel them. Even with that, none of them had quite the same effect on me as Richard Armitage in much lesser roles and with less adept writing.
And what was the effect? An identification with something so real it made me feel I was there with the character and seeing the situation through his eyes. Some of those roles above had moments of that, but none were able to make me almost continuously see the story through their eyes — feeling their pain or frustration or joy or elation — as I have watching Richard Armitage. The only thing that has frequently had this effect on me is reading a well crafted book where a character or a scene has gotten inside my head, and I’m with them and in them, and sometimes I have to read books or parts of books again and again to experience the thrill of that moment of connection.
The scene in The Sun Also Rises where Jake is in the church trying to pray and then steps out into the sunlight is one of them. If there was ever a scene that I consider orgasmic, it’s that one. It nearly took my head off. There are others which come close, but that one I can barely speak of without almost having a meltdown, and I even got misty eyed typing these last few sentences. But with Richard Armitage, I was taken to that place of connection with almost no words. It was in his action:
Action or rather movement was integral to Craig, “theatre has sprung from movement.” Notice he doesn’t say words were the impetus. He does give deference to writing as the body of a play but movement was so important that he suggested the need for an Uber Marionette (sometimes described as inhuman) as the perfect actor who could be controlled by the director of a piece in order to achieve its vision. Richard Armitage has spoken several times of the importance of movement and his body to his craft, and he’s even spoken of smoldering with his back. Anyone who has seen the first episode of Robin Hood Series 3 knows how effectively he can use it:
But it is Stanislavski who explains how he is able to use his body to such great effect:
“if actors really mean to hold the attention of a large audience they must make every effort to maintain an uninterrupted exchange of feelings, thoughts, and actions among themselves. And the inner material for this exchange should be sufficiently interesting to hold spectators. The exceptional importance of this process makes me urge you to devote special attention to it and to study with care its various outstanding phases.”
Through Tortsov the Director he goes onto explain about self-communion, which is a way of facilitating intercourse within yourself and specifically between your brain and feelings, and communion between individuals, which requires you to first seek out the other person’s soul and inner world. At the train station when John Thornton looked at Margaret Hale, I felt he was looking at her soul, her inner world, and mine too. He was getting in my head.
I’m tired, and I’ve still got more to say, but I bid you adieu for now. More of this later. And hey, I got some pictures in this one. :D
Today’s Conversation found here.
edit: the thoughts in this post continue here.