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! :)

Catching the Wave

Before I go any further with this post, I want to comment on the other FanstRAvaganza bloggers. They have some wonderful and just downright fun pieces. Hope you take a look!

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I had a debate with myself about this post, and I love it when I do that because no matter the decision, I win. So hang on. :D

Early on in my knowledge of Richard Armitage I read an interview with him where he mentioned auditioning for a part requiring an American accent:

[Richard’s] been to a Los Angeles audition for a role as a CIA agent in a television pilot. Armitage tells a story about his casting session that just about sums up this man’s pleasing blend of confidence and modesty. “I’d practised my American accent really hard so I could get the part just right. When I finished reading, the casting people said, ‘Wow! That was great… Now would you mind doing it again with an American accent?'”

Read the entire interview here.

These were the days of my fan odyssey when I still thought Richard almost walked on water. That pleasing blend of confidence and modesty is indeed powerful. Sigh. …………………………………………………………………………….. Oh, Pardon me. What was I saying? Oh yes, I was really having a hard time believing he couldn’t nail an American accent. “The god known as Richard Armitage” not being able to pull American?! It wasn’t happening. Of course I was curious to hear him do it and heard it all sorts of ways in my head. Fast forward almost three years, and I finally heard him one night on BBC Radio 3. It sounded nothing like I had imagined:

My first thought was Nooooooooo! where has my RA gone?! I think I said to someone at the time that I would be fine with him never doing an American accent! Thankfully, it’s been a while since I listened to that snippet, and I find it doesn’t have quite the jarring effect it did the first time around. Yes, I’ve always appreciated his attempt, but it was hard not to dissect it. In fact, there was quite a discussion here amongst several of us. I think most Americans liked it, but it seems we all had pointers about how he could do it differently. Certainly, for the reading of Dos Passos, a New York accent was necessary, but I’m adamant about how his first foray into American should have gone. LOL!

Dear Richard:

I guess you know that many American women are fairly smitten with men who speak in English accents. Oh, you thought that bit in “Love Actually” was a joke? I would love to say it is, but a significant number of us are really that entranced by the voices of English men. So I have to admit that I already had a bias against you speaking American although I really wanted to hear what it would sound like.

I prefer you English. No need to sink to our level with an American accent. No, really, I mean that. But if you’re so inclined, some of us have a request of you:

Oh, you would definitely be charmed by it all. The part I love most is how outrageous we’re allowed to be by comparison to other parts of the country. ;-)

So I was thinking maybe a reading of Harper Lee, Walker Percy, or Flanner O’Connor next time.

Sincerely,
One of your crazy fans whose love of a Southern Gentleman is only surpassed by love of an Englishman. :D

P.S. The South really does have the best food (ducks).

Apologies to my “Yankee” friends. I couldn’t resist. Seriously, I don’t care what accent he uses. Whomever he chooses to play and however he chooses to play it I’m sure will be lovely. I’m sure he will craft it well. If he can do Maori, I’m sure he can do American. But my control freak just had to get a plug in for something that would be like a dream to me — RA playing Southern Gentleman ala Atticus Finch. However, I stand by my food comment. LOL! And thanks to Angie for lending her talents again. She may have found a new profession. :D

On Top of Your Game

If you are a frequent viewer of any of the triumviRAte sites (RichardArmitageNet.Com, RichardArmitageOnline, or RichardArmitageCentral), then you probably know about Richard’s reading of Wordsworth today on BBC 3. If you haven’t been reading as much lately, then know that it will be done here at 10:45pm London time.

If some of you are like me, you won’t be around to listen to this live. Don’t fear. You can listen to it on the BBC iPlayer at a later time, but usually only for a limited number of days. If you would like to do this, you can search the archives for this show. I’ve done the search on ‘Words and Music,’ which is the name of the program, and you can run this link to do your own search later. update: To listen on the iPlayer, go here. second update: but if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, bccmee has provided only RA’s parts. I recommend listening to the entire broadcast the first time around.

But if you’re also like me, listening to it on the iPlayer will not be enough. You must also have a copy for your stash. Good news for those of you who have a PC and have not already read A Little Sweetner. There is a way. It’s called Radio Downloader, and if you read that post, it explains what it does. Just so you know it’s very easy to download the program, and it doesn’t take up much space. You can then browse the BBC for “programmes” and subscribe if you like. But beware of subscribing as this software will download dynamically to your system, i.e., you can start to fill up your storage if you’re not careful about your subscriptions. Other than that caution, this software has been wonderful to manage not to mention facilitating the enjoyment of several more performances of RA using that voice that is God’s gift to women.

And it’s been so much more than that. I’ve become a major fan of British radio, and ‘Words and Music’ is one of my favorites. I’m SO SORRY I didn’t listen to British radio sooner. I missed out on the Chekhov celebration earlier in the year. Blast! If anyone has any of those recordings, please let me know.

Now we just need to get a program this easy to manipulate that runs on a Mac!!

Not into radio? Well, next up is something you might find interesting.