A Reverie

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Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of you beyond your public comments, and that has been one of the greatest parts of being a fan of Richard Armitage. Yes, I keep saying this, but it can’t be said enough! Let me put it like this. I’m thrilled that I jumped into this madness known as the RA fandom. What awesome, awesome people so many of you are, and now it’s my pleasure to share someone with the rest of you whom you may not know much about even if you’ve seen her comments here or there. Oh, and sometime in the near future you’ll be the recipient of some fun I have planned, which I could not have done without her help. I now think of her as a “partner in crime” ;-), Kaprekar.

So, Kap, have to ask you the requisite question. How did you become a fan?

I first saw Richard Armitage when he was revealed at the beginning of Spooks Series 7. ‘North and South’ completely passed me by, which is strange for me as I usually make an effort to watch new period dramas. It may have been something to do with having a six month old baby at the time! I had rather different priorities!

I watched the whole series and thought he was interesting and quite good looking. The series was a definite return to form, but other than that he made no particular impression on me. Roll on a year, and shortly before Spooks 8 started to air, I was searching YouTube for some clips of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’ and lo and behold, here was this ‘North and South’ thing popping up all the time. Eventually I watched one of the clips and was soon watching the whole thing on YouTube. I guess once I realised that the tall dark and handsome cotton mill owner John Thornton was the same actor as the mysterious Lucas North in Spooks, I decided I needed to investigate further…

It didn’t take me too long to find these strange things called “fanvids” on YouTube, and I also found references to something called the “Armitage Army” and from one of the fanvids, Sexy Back, a reference to something else called C19. So I joined that forum, but found it rather overwhelming, and I couldn’t seem to find the ‘North and South’ board (very strange!). It was several weeks before I went back to investigate properly. In the meantime I watched the rest of Spooks 8, and between that and ‘North and South’ (now bought on DVD), I was a goner!

Those fanvids really should come with a warning. LOL! I wonder how much the fan community has heightened your interest since then?

It’s definitely heightened my interest. I joined several forums, C19 is my favourite, perhaps because I joined it first. It’s a wonderful community of ladies that is simply one of the best places I have ever found on the internet. I’ve also ventured onto blogs and Twitter, and I still find it astounding that there is so much activity out there about this one actor…I mean how many blogs are there that post regularly about him – ten? fifteen?

It was about fifteen or so at last count, but I think it’s increased since FanstRAvaganza started. LOL! Sorry to keep laughing, but well, I really am laughing. I can’t help it as it’s always fun to hear how others bite the dust. :D But what do you think about Twitter’s part in all of this?

Twitter has also been an enormously rewarding experience for me, in terms of reaching out to other fans. But with all these social networking opportunities, you get out what you put in, and sometimes I find it very hard to find the time to do everything I want to do, and go everywhere I want to go, as often as I want to. That may not make much sense!

It makes perfect sense!

Changing the subject a bit. I understand you play the piano and the flute. Is that still a significant part of your life?

I am a pianist first and foremost, and I played regularly up until we had to give our piano back to the person it belonged to a couple of years ago! Sad day! But I am working on getting my daughter to learn, so we will have to get something in that case. I learned the flute at school, so that is more “in the past” but it enabled me to play in orchestras and ensembles which was a fun thing to do. I was never good enough to play either the piano or flute professionally though, or even consider going to music college. I won’t admit to exactly how many years I have been playing the piano, but it’s a few decades!! I think I read that Richard played the flute too!

Yep, he does! Or did. I’m not sure where he stands with that now. Would be lovely to know.

I have to ask what are your favorite kinds of music? I don’t even care if it’s RA related. It’s always something I want to know from everyone!

When I was a child I listened to classical music almost exclusively – I think that is just what we had on in our house. I also used to record myself playing the piano and listen to that. In fact I was just reminded that I also used to record myself reading poems when I was a child. When I went away to boarding school, I began to listen to pop and rock music, the popular bands of the 80s such as The Police, and Duran Duran, and Madness (showing my age there!) just what was in the charts, and I explored music past and present from there. I became a massive fan of Prince in the late 80s. I have also become a fan of the music from musicals e.g. Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain.

But from the time I left university and started work, I lost touch with new music and tended to listen to my old stuff. It’s only recently (and completely down to my interest in Richard and the fan videos I have watched I may say) that I have started to listen to new(ish) music again, and I am finding it as interesting as exploring the music of the 60s and 70s in my youth. Muse is one example, but I am really still exploring.

I also understand that you take acting classes. I would love to hear about that! And of course how it may have changed your views of or helped you appreciate more the work that’s done by Richard Armitage.

I started taking the class about a year ago. It’s just a local acting workshop with about 10–15 regular participants. I joined because I wanted to develop my inter-personal and communication skills more for the sake of my work than anything else, and I have found business communications courses either not very useful or not able to meet my needs. But I think I may have missed my calling, because I find it just the most interesting and fun thing to do! It’s also really hard! Everything that you say or do during a scene has to be thought about beforehand. And there are so many things to think about – from basic stuff like making sure that you are facing the audience, and that they can see your face, to harder things like thinking about your character and what they are thinking about and wanting in a particular scene, say.

What is particularly interesting and surprising to me is the amount of improvisation involved in acting (or developing as an actor), and how it starts off being terrifying but then, after you get used to it, it becomes something that is really enjoyable and something that you just have to throw yourself into. Also it’s often what you are doing when you have no lines at all to say that reveals most about your character. It feels like teetering on the precipice of something – you feel like you are going to go over the edge but you just manage to stay on. I also think it’s important to keep trying different ways of doing the same thing and not be afraid to do something where you feel foolish – in fact you have to commit – because faking it just doesn’t work.

This is making me appreciate RA’s work slightly differently (and similarly the work of other actors), in that I am becoming more aware of the work that must have gone into any given scene and that there are usually several ways in which to play a scene, and the choices that the actors and the director made have a big impact on the final result. But it’s early days for me still, and I am learning all the time, I am just beginning to really appreciate how powerful it can be to slow down, and pause and find special moments when you connect with another character.

In that vein, has being a fan had an effect on your general creativity?

Well, I don’t do graphics or fanvids or write fanfiction or anything like that…so I can’t lay claim to being more creative in those respects. But being a fan has led to a reigniting of my love of reading, something that I haven’t been unable to indulge myself in so much since starting a family. Reading North and South, Heyer, Bernard Cornwell and also fanfic has made me remember all those feelings I had when I found good books for the first time. I was not a Heyer fan before listening to the audio books, I tried a couple as a teenager, but they always seemed to be very lightweight reads, and I gave up quickly. I think I should have stuck with it, because I realise now how some of them are gems in their own right, though the language is quite…interesting at times…and they are essentially light reads. But since listening to Sylvester and Venetia, more particularly, I have picked up a few others and am working my way through – but there are lots of them I have to say! Will take me quite a while.

Ah yes, the audio books. LOL! As you know, I’m covering RA’s voice work, so I’m really curious what is your favorite?

For audio work as a whole I would have to say the ‘Words and Music’ poems, particularly Preludes by T. S. Eliot.

I have listened to them hundreds of times, literally. They are like spoken songs to me. Aside from the lovely, earthy, gravelly voice, I suppose I like them so much because of the pacing and rhythm of his reading and because of the beautiful expression and meaning that he uses in every word like when he says “flickered” you can just imagine the light flickering on the ceiling. And when he says “short, square fingers stuffing pipes” I see it happening, in my mind.

But for audio books, my favourite would be The Lords of the North.

Oh my! It’s definitely my favorite too, and I defy anyone to listen to even a few minutes of it and not come away wanting to listen to the whole thing and in spite of it being about a very violent period of history. Listening to it turned me into an audio book lover. There is only one problem. I’m spoiled to his narration. He has set a high standard for me, and now I want to hear him reading countless books. Is there anything in particular you would love to hear him read?

Well of course I would love Richard to read North and South. Wouldn’t we all? But I have more or less accepted that this will never happen.  So I would personally love to hear Richard read The Hobbit, and I have not given up hope that this might happen.  Of course the obvious person to read that audiobook would be Martin Freeman, and he has done audio books before (e.g. he read a version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, another movie he starred in), but…you never know…I live in hope. 

I’m with you, and maybe he should read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy! We may have to start a campaign. :D

You know I’ve shared others’ recordings of what they think of RA and how he’s affected them. I’m happy you agreed to share yours as well:

Kap is married with two young children and obviously hails from the UK where she still lives.

For those who listened to the excerpt of Lords of the North and are now curious to listen to the entire book, or if you already love it and would just like to have your own audio book or an additional book, I have two to give away. The books are courtesy of AudioGo (BBC Audio Books) and rules for the giveaway are found here. Good luck! :)