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“It has lines that feel relevant in 1692, relevant in the Fifties, relevant today and relevant tomorrow, in 10 years, in 20 years, while we’re still destroying each other in the way that we do, in that insidious human way.” He promises that acclaimed director Yael Farber’s production will be a full-blooded affair.“You can’t play this story without addressing sexuality in this particular society in this time, the masculinity of the men, the femininity of the women, the vulnerability of prepubescent girls.“Having a box office figure next to your name is unbelievably important when it comes to certain castings.But I don’t think it would have made a difference coming to the Crucible.” And after 13 years of concentrating on film and television, returning to the stage is a very big deal for him.But he says his experience of trying to win bigger roles convinced him to alter course.“You fight for certain roles and you realise they’re being filled by television and film actors, because theatre is constantly fighting for survival and they need names and faces and ticket sales.
I think I read somewhere that someone said I was fiercely protective of my private life, and I thought well, there’s nothing fierce about protecting a private life. And in a way the shyness is me protecting other people from that.
“It fills me with dismay sometimes when you look at the scripts that do come to you, that are primarily focused on violence.
There are so many other things to play around with.” His career, he says, has been “a slow climb. He joined a circus in Budapest straight out of his school in Coventry – he grew up in the Midlands - to get his equity card.
“I leave the rehearsal room – and I carry him with me, I carry his thoughts, I dream his dreams a little bit.” It’s a role that many non-theatre goers associate with Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Proctor in the 1996 film.
How does Armitage feel to be up against that performance? And I think there are some monumental performances in it.