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Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Crucible On Screen Confessions

Proctor: "It is Winter on your blog."
The Crucible theatre play, filmed version, seen in Amsterdam, 4th Febr. 2015
Being one of the Lucky ones having seen The Crucible play live in July 2014 in an old theatre, named Old Vic in London, I since then pledged on my blog and Twitter for a DVD release. Luckily enough, later in the run the play got filmed by Digital Theatre, who used 8 HD cameras in-the-round to film up-close the intense, horrible descent of its main cast. So I went to see it on film.
A good moment to compare impressions.
However, before the film started, there was critique in the room. "All that wooden acting of Dutch actors!" The classy lady in her 70s next to me demonstrated that by exclaiming them: "One of them goes 'Brah, brah, brah' and then the other also goes 'Brah, brah, brah!' Only the acting likes of Gijs Scholten van Aschat is bearable. And then they come on stage in their underpants, with one of them scratching his crotch. Like the Dutch audience is conservative!"
That was a whole different sound that what I heard at the Old Vic this Summer by a 30s classy woman a couple of seats next to me: "You've had a good view on Richard, haven't you?"
Main confession: I was proud for Richard's achievement. I was proud to see him play live as main lead to carry this production. That might have looked as drooling, but there were Lucky reasons I feel are best not to share why I was there.
Other confession: my fear that every theatre play I'd see next would be bland, was unfounded.
Best confession: I had goosebumps during the filmed version.
Bonus confession: when Richard wept at the table in the live play I wondered when I saw his back choking if he was pretending, because I couldn't see his facial expression. Then he turned around. Simultaniously I quickly raised my hand from my lap to cover any facial signs of disbelief and noticed my arm was really heavy. Then I saw the snot hanging from his nose onto his beard, and I felt my hand uncontrollably trembling against my cheek. He stepped a bit out of the situation, held back by a man (?), but managed to glance at a section of the audience - in where I sat. I was wondering if he felt his dual consciousness at that moment and would show a glitch of bravoure, because of it. He saw me with big eyes and a trembling hand and I could see his mental 'Oh' before he in a more demure state, turned around further, back into the scene. Wisely this was not put in the film. In interviews he thanked YaĆ«l Farber to 'go there'. He managed to repeat it, because I found only three witness reports covering other performance dates. Almost saying: what happens in theatre, stays in theatre, so I can't mention anything dangling...
Richard really whipped the adoring as well as critical audience with his acting.
 Thank you Richard for your aimed stare at the beginning and the end smile at the applause. :)
Boring Comparison Notes
Close-ups. It was good to see all the facial expressions up close. I discovered red edges and dark circles underneath Parris' eyes. It was better seen than in the half-lid theatre at second row. But after some time of seeing only close-ups, mainly in the first part, I wondered where every actor stood on stage. After the first part this got better. Watching actors react or blending into the ensemble is just as interesting as them getting the focus. Lucky to have seen Richard striding by barefoot, I couldn't help but wondering if his trained hammer toes were actually a secret tought by his former acting school LAMDA to help stay balanced at all times. Unfortunately, no close-ups of his giant army-style boots and his short hair which were my comfort zones to stare at in the theatre.
No smells. No burned herbs in filmed version, which was very dominant - and unique.
No deep noise. The theatre had a score that made one's organs tremble - very fitting. Unfortunately this cinema room had no Dolby Atmos. I've read that it was filmed (!) with it. The actors wore head microphones. Once in a while the resonances of voices in the theatre could be heard which brought some of the atmosphere back.
Stage directions. Because I've seen this play only one time, the film was a great way to bring memories back. Yet, almost in every scene I was doubting my memory, mostly for Proctor's character: he was doing this instead of that. Like the Whip scene. I can't remember Proctor's wife being in the room. The Whip scene was edited faster than what it felt like.
English subtitles. Although there were native English people in the cinema, I was glad the film had subtitles in this old English accent so I could rest my eyes on a word that was very important or unfamiliair to my ears.
Language. It was old style English, which made me wish to learn it for party gatherings.
Humour. While during the run of the stage play, sometimes there was a comment online saying that it was a serious play, so why where audiences so rude to laugh at certain points? Explanation: this was a heavy subject, so after a solid and breathtaking intro, those were written in to untie any clasped buttocks! People at the filmed version laughted evenly with recorded audiences, even more so with little, individual smirks, and by help of the subtitles.
No glances into the audience. I was in the Lucky zone and the filmed version makes you sober up.
No leaflets, posters or programmes. Depending on the cinema, but this cinema had no TC promotion.
Upping the antes. This play had a lot of shouting actors. I feared Richard may loose his voice, but he said in interviews he got vocal training during the run. In the filmed version I can't say he was hoarse. The girls in the ensemble had to do the most wicked movements and shoutings, and combined with the horrible dilemmas in the storylines, it got more and more intense.
Themes. The first time I saw TC, I focussed on different themes than when I saw the filmed version. 
Adultery theme. While I was glad to not get to see a glorified 'middle-aged man John Proctor getting away with his affair with underaged girl Abigail', the outcome of the play was too gruesome to witness. While I said before that Abigail acted evil, JP was also not a saint.
Jurisdiction theme. Without a good jurisdictional system you are delivered to the Gods
(or to the hounds). People working in jurisdiction should see this play.
Some old man I overheard at my physio, said: "You have a democratic right when you vote, after that you have no democratic right. (Then the people in power decide for you)."
Religion theme. You believe you belong to the right club and do the right thing... 
Yet somehow Life gets in the way. We're not Quakers here yet.
Man-as-hero theme: A man wants to be a hero in his life. When he fails, he has to learn to deal with it in his life. If not, he can become confused. Then he dies.  
End Notes
At the end of the film, at 23hr45, a part of the audience applaused and the lady who sat next to me, said: "It's a shame, it is quite bad. People dare not look their existential fear in the eyes. That's why they invent a God where they can all blame it onto. So they don't have to face their existential fear. And Life already is as short as it is. So they invent a God. This will continue for ever. I hope I am not bothering you with this?" I said: "No, on the contrary, I find it very enlightening." Particularly, because I found her reaction very in line with how I assumed Arthur Miller would have explained it. Meanwhile, we are on this Earth together.
It is not a theme in TC play, but the uncertainty of women striked me. It hounds fandoms. Had I at first the eery thought that Richard picked this play implying to impose a moral lesson on adoration for his followers, this time I felt very comfortable in my seat.
The ignorance, accusations and commanding power out of jealousy and uncertainty is tragic indeed and causes unnecessary rifts in communities.
Come to think of it, the men in this play were uncertain as well.
After the film, I had the words of the elder woman ringing in my ears when I walked to the tram stop to go to CS station. Then I pondered on how women could break this uncertaincy spell.
At 23hr50 the tram came at the tram stop were I was waiting.  
A young woman with a piercing in her underlip, wearing colored sneakers stepped in with me and was on the phone.
"No, I have had enough of you. I break up with you. I end this call now. Good night."
After my glance, she looked at me: "Yes, that sounds harsh, but it had to be done."
I elbowed her and said: "Congratulations."