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Yaël Farber's production of The Crucible ran for 12 weeks from Saturday 21 June to Saturday 13 September 2014 at The Old Vic theatre in London. The news was first broken on 11 April 2014 by Baz Bamigboye, Entertainment Columnist with the Daily Mail, who tweeted that Richard was in final talks to star as John Proctor. In response to a question on twitter, Baz said the deal was 99% and in his column in The Daily Mail he stated:
"Armitage has had what were described to me as ‘several very exciting’ conversations with Ms Farber about how she plans to interpret Miller’s drama. However, he is still in final discussions."
Here is a scan of the article in the print edition of The Daily Mail, with thanks to jh of the C19 forum:
Official confirmation of the production was announced by The Old Vic on 15 April in the form of this news article on their website. The announcement also made The Stage's news page and BBC News also reported that Richard will appear at the Old Vic in London.
A full casting announcement was made on 14 May by Playbill.
First picture of John Proctor and a video interview from The Old Vic
On 30 May, The Old Vic posted the first picture of Richard in character as John Proctor from The Crucible on their website. They also uploaded a video to YouTube with Richard talking about this role. He says he feels like he has been preparing for the role for the last ten years. Rehearsals had begun by this stage.
Synopsis from the Old Vic website
Richard Armitage stars in Arthur Miller’s classic American drama brought vividly to life in this visceral new production by internationally acclaimed director Yaël Farber.
In a small tight-knit community, personal grievances collide with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria. Miller’s timeless parable attacks the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.
Richard Armitage’s credits include the forthcoming film Into the Storm. Other film and TV credits include The Hobbit trilogy, Captain America: The First Avenger and Spooks. Theatre includes The Duchess of Malfi and Macbeth for the RSC.
Yaël Farber is a multiple award-winning director and playwright. Her production of Mies Julie won a string of international awards at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival, was named one of the Top Ten Productions of 2012 by The New York Times, and Top five Productions of 2012 by The Guardian.
Arthur Miller is one of America’s greatest playwrights. His many plays include All My Sons, Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge.
Opening Night - Saturday 21 June 2014
Judging by comments left on twitter, the opening night performance of The Crucible was wonderful: 'probably the best stage show I've ever witnessed', 'emotionally charged and wonderfully acted' with some 'incredibly inspiring performances' and 'best stage acting I've ever seen'. Here is another huge compliment about Richard's performance. This photo shows that the performance was awarded a standing ovation.
Richard met audience members outside the stage door after the performance, and continued to meet with the general public on every single night of the 12 week run. He even met with disappointed audience members when the show was unexpectedly cancelled due to an electrical fault on Monday 25th August. A set of candid photos can be found here on pinterest and also in the The Crucible Stage Door gallery.
Press Night and Reviews
Previews started Saturday 21 June, with tickets selling at a slightly cheaper price, then on Thursday 3 July the press night took place. Richard and the cast of The Crucible attended an after show party at The Savoy Hotel, London and photos from the event are on the Rex Features site, AP Images and Getty Images and on photographer Robert Zajaczkowski's Facebook page.
Reviews from all reputable newspapers and media outlets over the next few days were unanimously outstanding. The production gained NINE five star reviews from The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Time Out, The Guardian, Evening Standard, The Independent, The Daily Express, The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times. It was also awarded many four star reviews. Click Reviews to read them in detail.
On 5 July Richard's agent, United Agents, posted an article on their website celebrating The Crucible's five star reviews.
The Crucible trailer
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Music from The Crucible
On 15 and 29 August, the composer of the music for The Crucible, Richard Hammarton, shared two tracks from the production. Listen to them here on Soundcloud. 'The Crucible' is the opening sequence of music and 'Ash' follows. The music will give you an impression of the atmosphere of the production for those who are not able to see it, and remind others of the ominous and eerie tone that the music evoked. Those violin notes were repeated often throughout the play.
On 28 August Richard Hammarton stated he was hoping to make the entire soundtrack available for download and does not intend to sell it (see this tweet) but the filming may have influenced this decision (see this tweet posted on 15 September).
The tracked entitled 'Ash' plays at the start of the third act, when black ash was falling on to the stage before the entrance of Tituba and Sarah Good in the jail.
Filming The Crucible
After numerous denials that The Crucible could be filmed, The Old Vic finally announced that it would be collaborating with Digital Theatre to film the production, which would be made available worldwide as a digital download later this year (release date tbc) and will be shown in selected cinemas. The announcement was made in a series of tweets on twitter: one, two, three.
An extra matinee performance on Tuesday 9 September was scheduled (possibly also because the performance on Monday 25 August had to be cancelled at the very last minute due to an electrical fault) and both the matinee and the evening performance on Tuesday 9th were filmed.
According to a visitor to this site, there were seven cameras (two behind the front row at the side of the stage, two opposite on the other side, one on each end of the fourth row in the stalls and one on top of the central stairs. Four cameras were manually operated and the others probably remote controlled. All cameras were static and quite small.
Various pictures from the filming of The Crucible have appeared on twitter from staff of Digital Theatre. The co-founder of Digital Theatre, Robert Delamere, tweeted a picture showing storyboards of The Crucible as preparation for filming the play, which will take place during tomorrow's performance. This picture from @CecileBvd shows the gallery while filming was taking place. The co-founder of Digital Theatre, Tom Shaw, posted this picture of a camera and the stage. Robert Delamere, also a co-founder, shared this picture of Crucible director Yaël Farber in discussion with Adrian Schiller (Rev. Hale).
Richard Armitage In Conversation
The Old Vic announced on 31 July that there would be a special event: Richard would be interviewed on stage at 5pm on Tuesday 2nd September to talk about his career and his current role as John Proctor. Priority booking was given to patrons and friends of the theatre. Information on the Old Vic website.
You can read my account of the conversation here. This account is not a transcript, but a recall of what I remembered with help given from some visitors to this site.
Three days after the event Film and TV Now published an excellent article with direct quotes from Richard and also a transcript (part 1) plus audio. Then on 11 September they published the second and final transcript. This transcript is edited, for example when talking about visiting Salem, I remember that Richard also talked about taking photographs of the cot in Rebecca Nurse's house and other photographs.
For more details from this conversation, please see my RA in Conversation page on this site.
Richard's twitter Q&A
Richard answered questions about The Crucible on twitter on Friday 12 September at 5pm (UK time). The Old Vic posed the questions via their twitter account and Richard answered them from his own twitter. For a full transcript, visit the RA twitter Q&A page. This is where we first heard what is coming up next for him.
Richard's farewell tweets to The Old Vic
8 September: Richard with the very friendly security guy Ola.
10 September: Richard with stage door manager Ned Seago. Ned also runs the History tours at the Old Vic.
12 September: A thank you to Glynn Macdonald for her expertise.
The final performance
After a momentous 12 week run, the last performance of The Crucible was held at The Old Vic on Saturday 13 September 2014 to a packed house and with a long standing ovation from the audience. Richard marked the occasion by tweeting the following: "Good night and thank you for all your support @oldvictheatre #TheCrucible". The video in that tweet is disabled, so he posted again with a working video from @AnglophileTV: "My thanks to @oldvictheatre @yfarber #TheCrucible @DigitalTheatre @AnglophileTV A summer to remember".
The footage in the video took place on Tuesday 9 September, the last performance that the director Yaël Farber was able to watch as she was in Harvard having delivered a speech entitled 'The Power of Truth.' Ms Farber tweeted her response to her final viewing on the morning of the 10 September.
There were a total of seven print interviews, one television interview and a radio interview with Richard during the run of the play. All audio and video interviews have been archived here.
Print interviews are as follows:
>> 25 June 2014 The Telegraph 'Richard Armitage, interview: "I think I'm quite a frightening person"'. Photographer Dan Burn-Forti has posted 3 photographs on his tumblr account that were taken on behalf of the Telegraph.
>> 29 June 2014 The Independent '"The Crucible" returns: The witch hunt that implicates us all'. A fascinating article with Crucible director Yael Farber, accompanied by a striking picture of Richard as John Proctor.
>> 1 July 2014 Jill Lawless' article 'Richard Armitage goes from "Hobbit" to "Crucible"' for the Associated Press has been published today on many online sites including the New York Times and the Washington Times. I like this link to Yahoo News as you can open a gallery of large pictures to show Richard posing in the seats at the Old Vic theatre and also with director Yael Farber. This link to AP images shows the full set of photographs. The interview reveals what Richard will do in the name of research!
>> 3 July 2014 BBC News 'Richard Armitage: Crucible is 'a full-body experience'. Richard talks about visited Salem, how the play is a 'full body experience' and how much he has missed the stage.
>> 4 July 2014 The Evening Standard 'Theatre is still my first love, says Richard Armitage'.
"John Proctor was a role he had 'coveted' since studying at Lamda, and working with director Yaël Farber at the Old Vic was 'exciting'. 'Every night I get that rush of nervous excitement. I can’t wait to speak that incredible text,' he said."
Here is a scan from the print edition, showing the review and the interview. Click to enlarge.
>> 6 July 2014 The Sunday Times has published an interview with Richard by Tanya Gold, which took place in his dressing room at The Old Vic: "Acting is one thing," he says, "Being an actor is another." Here is a scan of the article. Click to enlarge and then click again to zoom in.
A photoshoot of Richard taken by Francesco Guidicini on behalf of the Sunday Times has appeared on ProfilebyNews.com. There are twelve photos in total and the photoshoot took place on 23 June according to the details on the site. Another link to more of the photoshoot can be found on NewsSyndication.com. There are 49 photos in total. This photoshoot took place on the first floor foyer of the Old Vic, the entrance to the Dress Circle.
>> 11 August 2014 The Hindu 'Bollywood films are great entertainment'. Despite the late publishing of this article have posted an excellent new interview with Richard that has taken place recently, judging by the comment that after the interview he was about to leave to do another performance of The Crucible. In reference to the play he said 'I feel changed by this role, and it’ll be interesting to see how my work changes after' and a comment at the end of the article quotes as follows: 'Similarly, I speculate, there must be a once-in-a-lifetime role his heart desires. “Ye-es, there is,” he replies after a pause, “and I may have just auditioned for it.”'
29 June 2014 Photographs by Geraint Lewis, used as publicity stills for the media. These pictures are superb quality and you can click each one to enlarge.
15 June 2014 The Old Vic theatre's twitter page kept us up-to-date with posters promoting The Crucible. I have collected all the posters (photography by Jay Brooks) and posted them in the Crucible gallery. Click 'original image' to see the full size of each photo.
Ali's programme and prop
I went to the matinee of The Crucible today with friends and had a wonderful time. Here is a picture of a prop which was grabbed by John Proctor, torn and discarded (thanks to Hedgeypig for snaffling it for me). Click to enlarge.
Old Vic Education Pack
The Old Vic released an education pack for The Crucible on 19 June containing pages of information about Arthur Miller, the play and the Old Vic's 2014 production. The pictures are the same as the ones posted on their Facebook page (see Publicity Stills above). Link to Old Vic New Voices Education Packs and a direct link to The Crucible education pack.
>>Time Out London magazine. 5/5 stars. Click the image to enlarge. The small image at the top has been cropped from the Contents page. Thanks to Aprilsviolet for this scan.
"The scenes of courtroom clash are truly astonishing, every utterance by Armitage and Jack Ellis's witchfinder-in-chief Danforth like an avalanche...And the gradual, painful thawing of relations between Proctor and his wife Elizabeth (Anna Madeley) is just devastating."
>> The Mail on Sunday, The Crucible, Old Vic, London. 5/5 stars. Thanks to LadyT for the scan.
"Richard Armitage...is a blazing John, tormented and guilt-racked. The tension between him and his wife is electric: Anna Madeley's Elizabeth is miserably aware of the 'wintry' house she kept that helped drive him away."
>> The Daily Express, The Crucible review: Chilling reminder of hysteria, mass murder and fantastic theatre. 5/5 stars.
"Armitage commands the stage without overwhelming everyone else. He combines moral and physical strength with human weakness in a way that is entirely credible. As his betrayed but fatally loyal wife, Elizabeth, Anna Madeley is equally impressive and their ultimate reconciliation is profoundly affecting."
>> The Sunday Times, The Crucible, Old Vic, London SE1. The entire article is here (online but behind a paywall).
"I’ve seen Arthur Miller’s great play many times before, but it has never mesmerised and moved me quite like Yaël Farber’s revival manages to do here...Armitage leads with passion as Proctor: it’s big acting, but Farber gives him the context for it. His scenes with his wife (Anna Madeley) have a repressed passion whose eventual release is overwhelming."
>> London Evening Standard, The Crucible, Old Vic - theatre review: 'At first Richard Armitage smoulders, later he blazes'. 5/5 stars.
"This revival of Arthur Miller’s great play, by South African director Yaël Farber, is astonishing. The production has a bold simplicity yet grips like the most complex thriller...Armitage at first smoulders, all dark looks and muscular seriousness. Later he blazes, raging against the paranoid insanity that engulfs him — and also against his own fallibility. Meanwhile Madeley brings a tense restraint to Elizabeth, capturing her wounded sense of virtue. Their intimate moments wrench the heart."
>> The Telegraph, The Crucible, Old Vic, review: 'The intensity of a thriller'. 5/5 stars.
"In her thrilling production at the Old Vic, which lasts three and a half hours but never loosens its dramatic grip, the South African director Yaël Farber doesn’t labour the point but trusts the audience to make its own connections with our own troubled times...Richard Armitage, best known for TV dramas and The Hobbit movies, proves an exhilarating stage actor, with blazing eyes and a righteous fury about him, as well as manifest decency. His deep guilt about his brief affair with Abigail, who has become his nemesis, is powerfully caught. And his final reconciliation with his wife, beautifully played by Anna Madeley, who admits her own part in their troubles, proves extraordinarily intimate and moving."
>> The Guardian, The Crucible review - full of raw, visceral power. 5/5 stars.
"the South African Yaël Farber, director of an acclaimed Mies Julie, has come up with an extraordinary production that preserves the integrity of Miller's language while investing the action with a raw, visceral power I've never witnessed...Richard Armitage, though sounding a bit vocally strained, admirably conveys Proctor's mix of muscularity and guilt and Anna Madeley is excellent as his quietly accusatory wife."
>> The Independent, The Crucible, Old Vic, review: 'Unmissable'. 5/5 stars.
"Yael Farber's mesmerising production of Arthur Miller's great play unfolds with the sick dread of a horrible dream from which you are powerless to awake...Richard Armitage brings a powerfully imposing presence and a ferociously passionate contrarian spirit to this farmer who is haunted with guilt about his marital infidelity..."
>> City AM, Review: The Crucible at the Old Vic. 5/5 stars.
"The performances are strongly physical: as John Proctor, Richard Armitage propels the production forward with a mighty, powerful goodness, and in their phony demonic throes the accusing girls writhe and contort their bodies into terrible shapes."
>> TheArtsDesk.com,The Crucible, Old Vic. 5/5 stars.
"Armitage makes a fine job of John Proctor – a roaring, contrarian beast of a man who shouts because he cannot be heard, but it’s Madeley who moves."
>> Theatrecat, The Crucible - Old Vic, SE1. The gates of hell creak open. 5/5 stars.
"It will haunt the memory for months, this profound, dark-lit, smoke-scented deep-booming production of Arthur Miller’s play...the pair’s progress from delicate marital adjustment to terror, are given breathless intensity by Armitage and a fine-drawn Anna Madeley as his wife...the final admission of Proctor that he finds in himself “a shred of goodness. Not enough to weave a banner with”. But do weave one for this unstinting, profound production. It does honour both to Miller and to the Old Vic."
>>The Wall Street Journal 'Morality Lessons from London'.
"If I had to rate Yaël Farber's new staging at the Old Vic of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," I'd agree with my critical colleagues who awarded it the full 5 stars. Staged in the round, Soutra Gilmour's simple period costumes and plain sets focus concentration on the dialogue and the actors' movements...The cast includes a big-deal movie star, Richard Armitage, but Ms. Farber has made an ensemble piece, united largely by the stylized movement direction of Imogen Knight."
>>Londonist 'Fighting The Darkness In The Crucible'.
"Richard Armitage’s flawless portrayal of John Proctor will stay with you for a lifetime. His version of the deeply troubled anti-hero may well rocket John Proctor into your mind as one of the greatest on-stage characters of modern times."
>>The Daily Express (edited version of the review posted first in yesterday's news. Thanks to Jen. 5/5 stars.
>>The Sunday Express 'No wrongs in Satanic rites'. 4/5 stars. Click the link for online version or click the image below to enlarge a scan of the print version. Many thanks to Smitkit for the scan.
"Armitage is the rock-like centre of Yaël Farber's revelatory production. The Crucible...can seem both worthy and wordy in performance but by taking the play at a thrillingly slow pace and remaining utterly faithful to Miller's text, Farber restores its power both to scare and to shock."
>> The Observer, The Crucible review - an engrossing, fiery evening. Susannah Clapp: 4/5 stars. (The Observer is a Sunday newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group, which is why the link opens the Guardian website).
"Richard Armitage, another Hobbit escapee, is the man agonised by the knowledge of his infidelity to his wife and now trying to be faithful to his friends. He is, though sometimes hoarse, impressive both when forceful and when nearly broken."
>> New York Times, The Body of Salem, Its Nerves Frayed
""Ms. Farber makes the most convincing case that I’ve encountered for the greatness of this 1953 drama"...Mr. Armitage...gives us a John who is first and foremost a physical being, a farmer who has spent most of his life fighting against privation. His rumbling voice comes from his viscera, and he stands like a man who feels undressed without his plow...Mr. Armitage gives palpable, sinewy force to John’s struggle, making the moral instinct feel primal, something that’s genetically coded but hard to bring into dominance."
>> What's On Stage, The Crucible, Old Vic. 3/5 stars.
"Abigail's got her teeth into the honest farmer John Proctor, played with gallant good looks and some physical power by Richard Armitage. Armitage and Madeley play this scene [at the Proctor's kitchen table] beautifully, and Tim Lutkin's lighting sculpts it in startling silhouette..." and from that point the reviewer and I disagree ;)
>> The Stage, The Crucible. 4/5 stars.
"Farber brings out its continued relevance with gutsy vigour, and Richard Armitage (a theatre actor before Hobbit fame) relishes mining the depths of John Proctor...The final reconciliation of the Proctors is unforgettable."
>> Financial Times, The Crucible, Old Vic, London - Review. 4/5 stars.
"Richard Armitage’s Proctor is a gruff, bearlike individual, tormented by his slip from grace and movingly matched by Anna Madeley as his wife, frozen in hurt. Their personal journey towards mutual forgiveness pulls against the gathering darkness elsewhere and proves very moving here."
>> Official London Theatre, The Crucible.
"Proctor is an imposing, prowling, growling figure with more rough edges than an Elizabethan neck-piece maker. Paradoxically brimming with pride and power while haunted by shame and remorse, he is constantly balancing on a tipping point, ready to explode with fury or collapse under the pressure of his principles...Armitage proves a colossal presence at the heart of a chillingly atmospheric revival of Miller’s classic."
>> Digital Spy, Richard Armitage is stunning in terrifying adaptation of The Crucible: Review. 4/5 stars.
"Physically, John is an imposing presence, but he is gradually chipped away at and broken down. Armitage makes him appear constantly exhausted by the accusations thrown at him and the people around him, even before he gets dragged into the trials. Eventually his body is weakened too, and when John makes a reappearance in The Crucible's dying moments, the change is striking. It's a triumph in make-up, costume and performance on Armitage's part that the sight of him makes you feel pained...His last stand is incredibly rousing, and cements just how good Armitage is at appearing inwardly bold when hunched or brittle when tall."