Chrysanthe at the Leeds International Film Festival

Urban and the Shed Crew
Leeds International Film Festival 2015

November 7 & 8, 2015

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Saturday, November seventh 2015.

Arrived in Leeds after a plane ride and several hours traveling north on the train from Stansted. It was drizzling the entire way, but the sun was out by the time I arrived in Leeds, so I took this to be a good omen. My ticket was for the following day at The Hyde Park Movie House, but I planned on going to both of Saturday’s showings at Chapel FM to meet up with some friends and maybe get a pic or two of Richard arriving and leaving for the forum.
I finally arrived at Chapel FM after my taxi driver tried to unsuccessfully drop me off at an abandoned church up the street. Chapel FM is rather hard to find. It isn’t on the main street as you would think judging by the address, but rather down a short alley that opens up into a kind of courtyard. It seems that everyone had a bit of a problem finding it. Not seeing an actual sign and fearing I was in the wrong place after all, I struck up a conversation with a blonde woman who was standing outside the door grasping her tea mug with some force. She assured me that it was indeed the right place and that she too had had a difficult time finding it. Her name was G*******a, from Switzerland, and had driven up from London where she had been on business, to see the movie. I told her I was traveling from Athens to San Francisco via Leeds (my running joke for the weekend) for the same reason. Oddly enough, we never actually said we were there to see Richard, though obviously we both were. {SMILIE}

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The stained glass is only visible when dusk has fallen and is back lit…

Our host was Adrian Sinclair, the Director of the venue. He explained to us that having worked with Bernard Hare some years ago when Urban and the Shed Crew was first being published, he had been inspired to do something positive. Chapel FM is located in East Leeds, which has a population of approximately 150,000, and it is the first ever Arts venue to open in the area. What was the reason for holding the first screening there, with an auditorium that sat only about 60 people? Obviously, a symbolic one which was quite poignant and not lost on anyone. The movie could have been shown in a larger cinema, making it more available for viewing to distributors and others in the industry and bringing more attention to the film, but it was held here. The showing was sold out, but oddly, only half of the people arrived, so I managed to get in. G and I sat together and were both very impressed with the film.

About the movie, I really don’t want to give anything away, because it was a wonderful telling of such serious social issues, and I urge everyone to see it when it does eventually appear in cinemas. (No doubt we’ll all be lining up to see it and will buy the DVD when it’s out) What I will say is that it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Never a dull moment, the film had a fluidity that carried you smoothly through the highs and lows. l felt wrung out by the end, but was left with a giggle and a feeling of hope. I really must say this….I know that there are some who think that Richard can’t really “do” comedy, but he can. He had me laughing out loud several times. Barring John Proctor, IMHO, I feel that Chop is one of his best roles to date.

G*******a left after the showing, even though I encourage her to stay. Before the second showing, Scarer, from the forum arrived. We hadn’t met before so this was a real treat and she had an extra ticket for me. Just as we were settling in and getting warm, one of the organizers asked us all to wait outside to welcome Richard. Well, it was very cold out there, but how could we refuse. Out we all trotted to eagerly await him….for about an hour. While outside, I found Ariadne, whom I had met during The Crucible run and Scarer also found three ladies from her Crucible night. The next day was Remembrance Day, and some streets were closed off, traffic diverted, so I think this is why Richard was so late. Sweetheart that he is, as soon as he was out of the car, he was apologizing for being late.

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Richard did his rounds of autographs and pics with everyone, and he did make a point of getting to everyone; all along in front of the ramp and then along the back before heading in. Scarer and I managed to get seats in the front row which was great as I had hoped to record the Q&A with my camera. (I had asked Mr. Sinclair first if I could do this)

 

@bettylawless

@bettylawless

Richard gave a very short intro then sat towards the back with Candida and Bernard to watch the film for the first time. Immediately afterwards the Q&A began. (Links to my recording and pics are below) I have to say, it was a heady feeling sitting 5 feet away from him for 30 minutes. I had to keep mentally knocking myself not to look at him through the camera’s tiny screen, when he was right there in front of me. It was an interesting Q&A. Quite a serious issue for sure, but Richard managed to bring some levity to it all with his perspicacity, charm and anecdotes. I’m sure we’d all love a tutorial on how to roll a cigarette, even if we don’t smoke.

 

@chrysanthe63

@chrysanthe63

When it was over, he was quick to get up and managed to almost make it to the door before he was called back to the front for a few pics. Poor darling. Perhaps he thought he might get swamped in there and wanted a quick getaway. Perhaps he had arrived that day from NYC and was tired or had jetlag…who knows. Most of us left him alone. After all, he was out in the cold earlier taking pics with us all.

 

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[Here are the Links to Chrysanthe’s videos and photos]

Sunday morning outside the Hyde Park Picture House , I met up with two more ladies from the forum, Monetsmum and Chrissy as well as Scarer and her friend (who was very understanding and patient with us, being a huge Russell Crowe fan herself) As soon as we were given our tickets, we all went to a coffee house just up the street to chat.

 

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L-R: Monetsmum, Chrissy, Scarer, and Me

When we walked back to the cinema, they all commented that Richard was already there. “So why on earth were we drinking tea?!?” I exclaimed! The crowd wasn’t too large and Richard was easily circulating. No mad crush. It reminded me of the meet and greet after the Proust Reading. He was very relaxed and had time to exchange a few words with everyone, except this time, he wasn’t behind a rope and was moving freely amongst us. I wish I had noticed Candida Brady who was also outside. I would have loved to have spoken with her. Funny how when you are in a crowd, you can only see who is closest around you …unless they are exceptionally tall, like Richard and his bodyguard, who were head and shoulders above everyone.

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When I had my moment with Richard, I looked around but didn’t see my friends, so I handed him my iphone and said, “I seem to have lost my friends. We’ll have to do this.” He took the phone from my hand and said, “Then we’ll do this.” and took the pic.

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@guyltypleasure

@guyltypleasure

While handing me back my phone he said, “We’ve done this before.” What’s a woman to say to that? I laughed and said, “Yeah, we have.” And as for my friends, they were all standing right behind me.

Richard, Candida and Fraser gave a short but sweet intro, with Richard taking a selfie with the audience, to everyone’s delight.

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@rcarmitage

 

It was great to meet Richard again, but truly wonderful to meet up with my friends from the ArmitageArmy@RichardArmitageCentral forum. Oh and just one more thing. I had an extra ticket I was holding for a friend, but she couldn’t make it. A few minutes before Richard took to the stage, I remembered that it was in my wallet, so I rushed out to the lobby to see if I could give it away, when I spotted a blonde woman standing outside the theatre waiting. It was G*******a, whom I had met the night before. I tapped on the glass and yelled to her, “Do you have a ticket?!” She said no, but was sure that she’d get one. She did.