American-born Irish actress Saoirse Ronan made her stage debut on Broadway as the main antagonist in the 2016 revival of Arthur Miller’s 1953 play THE CRUCIBLE at the Walter Kerr Theatre. She played the manipulative maid Abigail Williams, responsible for the deaths of 150 people accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692. It was an allegory for McCarthyism. In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney called Saoirse’s performance “icy and commanding.” The production won the Tony Award for Best Revival.
Last year she made her London stage debut as Lady Macbeth in the Almeida Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH.
In 2020 the New York Times ranked her tenth on its list of this century’s Greatest Actors. She has been nominated for four Oscars – for her performances in ATONEMENT (2007), BROOKLYN (2015), LADY BIRD (2017), and LITTLE WOMEN (2019) and five BAFTA Awards in the same films with the addition of THE LOVELY BONES (2009). She won a Golden Globe for her title role as Christine ‘Lady Bird’ MacPherson in Greta Gerwig’s 2017 directorial debut LADY BIRD.
Saorise signed my sketch of her as Abigail at the Almeida Theatre during the final week of MACBETH In November 2021.
Considered one of the greatest, certainly the most breathtaking final at the famous Crucible theatre in Sheffield, this years ultimate match of the World Snooker Championship saw the twenty-nine year old Judd Trump finally win his maiden title with an emphatic 18-9 victory over four-time champion John Higgins last night. Having been touted as a potential champion for many years the Englishman finally fulfilled his potential.
“The standard was astonishing,” said six-time winner and BBC commentator Steve Davis. “It may have been the greatest final we have ever seen and Judd Trump was at the heart of it. He dismantled one of the greatest players to have ever held a cue.”
With a record 11 century breaks – seven to Judd – and frame-winning breaks of 50 in 23 of the 27 played, it was a remarkable example of potting from both players, taking the standard of snooker to another level. For the forty-three year old Scot, it was his third defeat in a row, having reached the final in the last three years, and his fourth in eight appearances, but all agree, he played his part in this classic contest. “I was lucky to get nine frames,” John modestly said after the encounter.
Judd now joins John and nine other players in achieving the career ‘Triple Crown’, winners of the sport’s three most prestigious tournaments-the World Championship. The UK Championship and the Masters.
Both Judd and John signed sketches for me at the Crucible in 2015, which I’ve previously posted, but to pay tribute to such a classic sporting moment, here they are again.
Scottish snooker player John Higgins is one of the most successful players in the modern history of the sport. His four world titles rank him fifth behind Stephen Hendry, (7), Steve Davis (6), Ray Reardon (6) and Ronnie O’Sullivan (5).
Nicknamed ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’, John held the number one ranking on four separate occasions. With his superb tactical game and break-building class, many place him alongside Steve Davis as one of the best all round players of the modern era.
John signed my sketch at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield during this year’s World Championships last month.
Arthur Miller’s harrowing 1953 witch hunt classic The Crucible played London’s Old Vic Theatre this summer and was one of 2014’s hottest tickets. Directed by the multi-award-winning South African Yaël Farber, the three and a half hour production had critics spellbound, describing it as, “absorbing”, “it is what great theatre is all about”, “unmissable”, “a production of electrifying intensity”.
Based on the 17th century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts (which the playwright uses as an allegory for McCarthyism in the 1950s) the play’s main protagonist is bewildered John Procter, a down to earth farmer played by Richard Armitage in what has been called, “an expressive turn, full of raw power”.
Making her professional stage debut as the antagonist ringleader Abigail Williams was a memorably sinister Samantha Colley. Charismatic and manipulative, she spreads rumours of witchcraft after a brief affair with John Procter, eventually accusing his wife of being “bewitched”.
This pencil sketch is a montage of Richard and Sam’s characters in the play which they both kindly signed.
Maybe it was because he’s Robin Hood on the telly, or more lily because he is Thorin Oakenshield in Perter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy that accounted for the hoards of people – mostly female – that became part of the nightly vigil to meet Richard Armitage outside the Old Vic stage door in London during its recent season of The Crucible.
At the heart of Arthur Miller’s tale of religious hysteria in the Salem Witch trials of 1692 was an immense performance as John Proctor from Richard. Apparently his first stage part was playing an elf in a production of The Hobbit at the Alex Theatre in Birmingham. His appearance certainly created some offstage hysteria as well.
Once again I left it to the final week to try and get a sketch signed, with the excepted consequences. Actually, as a back up I did leave one a couple of months earlier at the theatre, but it hadn’t appeared through the mail box by the time the last few days rolled around. This sketch was a quick one of Richard and Samantha Colley in rehearsal.
At three and a half hours The Crucible‘s Finish time was 11pm, giving a small window of opportunity before the last train home. The line stretched along the entire side wall of the Old Vic, from stage door to front door. I was positioned three quarters down it with tales of woe by ardent ‘Armitagees’ that he doesn’t always complete the line. This night he did, but very quickly. To accommodate everyone’s demands he used the abbreviated initials ‘RA’ not the full version. ‘RA’ with a tail and lower case ‘g’ slipped near the end like an abandoned hair clip. Still, he quickly graphed my drawing and moved on.
Ronnie “the Rocket” O’Sullivan is considered a genius in the world of snooker and one of the most naturally talented players in the history of the sport. Many regard him as the greatest player ever. His rapid, attacking style and ability to play right or left handed has won him five World Championships, five Masters and four UK Championship titles, known as the Triple Crown events.
In his sixth World Championship final earlier this week, at The Crucible, Ronnie was beaten by 18 frames to 14 by Mark Selby in a thriller and what many commentators believe was one of the best ever. On his way home, Ronnie and his son Ronnie Jnr were involved in a car crash on the M1, but walked away unscathed. Ronnie kindly signed and returned this sketch from The Crucible last week.