Remembering Urban and the Shed Crew’s Urban – Lee Kirton – on the Anniversary of the Film’s World Premiere
On November 7, 2015, at Chapel FM – in the Leeds neighborhood where Chop, Greta, Urban and his Shed Crew lived – a feature film based on these lives made its world premiere to packed houses. In light of these two compelling, sold-out screenings, The Leeds International Film Festival added an extra screening of the film – directed by Candida Brady and based on Bernard Hare’s memoir – the next day, at a larger venue, the historic Hyde Park Picture House. Most of the cast, and many of the actual – now adult – Crew attended, including Lee Kirton, Urban himself.
But the journey of the members of the Shed Crew was never an easy one. And in June, Lee/Urban himself lost his nearly life-long battle with addiction. It happened as playwright Kevin Fegan finished his verse version of The Crew’s story, and staging was being prepped in Leeds.
‘Don’t mourn him too much. (Lee) did what he had to do and now he’s gone. “Deal with it,” to quote Kev. “We did.”‘ says Hare, who officially adopted Lee, and unofficially adopted the Crew and their families. ‘We’ve had to do a bit of speed-grieving around here because of the strange and unique circumstances. Still, I’ll never get used to losing my right arm.’
So the show – as it must – went on, and proved to be a powerful and emotional experience for all who knew, and who knew about, The Crew. With the permission of the playwright, here are his cathartic and striking Prologue and his final scene.
EXCERPTED FROM “THE SHED CREW” BY KEVIN FEGAN.
- A WAREHOUSE IN LEEDS. THE AUDIENCE ARE BROUGHT INTO A HOLDING BAY. URBAN IS ON HIGH. CHOP IS DOWN BELOW WITH THE AUDIENCE.
Hey, Chop, it’s great up here –
come and see the sights.
You know I’m feared of heights.
Who’s is this warehouse?
Since when did we care?
We’re two infamous outlaws, us.
Urban, come down will you, one last time?
Why, what did you have in mind?
Good place to tell our story?
I know it’s 2017
and things have changed –
Never be the same again.
I know what you mean.
Who’s gunna start, me or you?
You kick off, while we wait
for the rest of the Shed Crew.
When we first met Chop, he became
some kind of fat bastard spirit guide:
some of us were ten, some of us were fifteen,
some of us were mental, some of us were mean;
we were walking on the wild side,
not like mowgli in the jungle
befriended by kindly animals,
more like Lord of the Flies,
abandoned on some desert island
in the inner city of Leeds.
We were totally off the lead,
we took care of our own needs
and we grew like rampant weeds
in the financial flower-bed of the North.
Yes, we were Thatcher’s illegitimate bastards
but we didn’t need saving,
we were children of the rave scene
and we knew how to party
in the graveyard of Leeds.
They’re all my family.
Especially Urban, who I adopted from day one.
Why did you do that, Chop,
when I’ve been in and out of prison
since the day I was born?
You’ve been like a son to me.
Shut up, you nonce, you’re embarrassing me.
Listen to me for once.
There’s something about you, Urban,
I knew it from the start.
Told you before, Chop, you’re all heart,
it’ll get you nowhere.
You were twelve years old in 1995,
a cheeky little gobshite,
who couldn’t read nor write –
THE SHUTTERS OPEN TO THE WAREHOUSE AND
CHOP LEADS THE AUDIENCE INTO THE MAIN SPACE.
One thing you should know
about the downtrodden and the poor:
in every slum, there’s a natural
conspiracy against law and order.
There’s give for those who can give
and there’s take for those who take.
You see, when the stakes are high
some people would rather turn to crime
than live with the leftovers of life.
As for me, I see every little crime as a dead rat
in the Tories’ water tank;
some of us are just waiting for a chance
to smash and grab, pillage and burn,
turn society upside down
and shake the coins from its pockets,
put a rocket under its arse
and shoot it to the moon
to the thumping beat of an old-school choon.
SCENE 14 (Final Scene)
THEY ARRIVE AT THE LAKE DISTRICT IN THEIR STOLEN
CAR AND MAKE CAMP.
They park up at Lake Windermere
and recky the lie of the land.
They camp in the woods nearby
and sit around a warm fire making plans.
The pitch has good voodoo.
Right, you all know what we have to do.
THEY PUT ON BALACLAVAS AND GLOVES. URBAN
CARRIES EXCALIBUR, CHOP CARRIES THE
BOLT-CROPPERS, SAM A PETROL CAN AND PIXIE AN OLD
RAG AND MATCHES.
At midnight, they return to the lake.
Me and Urb will nick a rowing boat;
you guys be quick torching the car.
SAM POURS PETROL OVER THE CAR AND PIXIE LIGHTS
THE RAG AND THROWS IT IN. THERE IS A WHOOSH AS IT
CATCHES FIRE. CHOP CUTS THE CHAIN TO A ROWING
BOAT AND JUMPS IN WITH URBAN.
Let’s row to the island
and watch the fire engines.
It’s time, Urban: throw Excalibur
into the lake while the flames burn.
THE BOAT WOBBLES AS URBAN STANDS UP.
It’s a real shame, Urbie,
I was hoping you’d change the world for me.
URBAN THROWS THE MACHETE INTO THE WATER.
Chop, man, that’s your job;
you’re the only one can read and write properly;
you’re the teacher, not me.
What exactly have I showed you?
How to get locked-up and knocked-up?
How to get twatted on drugs?
Stuff like that?
Yeah. And how to be decent
with each other, and kind;
how to chill out and not be
fucking lunatics all the time.
You have to tell our story:
get in touch with that Fergal Keane,
tell him how it is for real.
Maybe I will; what the fuck,
maybe I’ll write him a letter,
maybe I’ll write him a book.
REST OF THE SHED CREW JOIN THEM.
We lived it, we couldn’t care less;
most of us are still here to tell the tale:
some of us are addicts
and some run our own business,
some of us are in jail
and some are as straight as a vicar’s dick
and some are completely off the rails.
But look at us: we’re all in a book.
Deal with it, we did; this is for real.
A STORM BREAKS. THUNDER AND LIGHTNING.
What about me, Chop? What became of me?
What can I say? It’s 2017, Urbie,
you’ve left the scene.
But we’ll always have our story.
Some things can’t be undone;
I’m gunna miss you, son.
URBAN STARTS TO LEAVE.
All that energy has to go somewhere:
you’ll always be in the “ch’i” –
the energy blazing through every living thing.
I’ll not mourn;
but instead, when it thunders and lightning
and kicks up a storm,
I’ll think of you, Urban, kickin’-off up there
without a care in the world.
URBAN HAS GONE.
Director Candida Brady is hoping to release her film of Urban and the Shed Crew globally online. At this point, nothing official has been announced. For updates, please check Ms. Brady’s Twitter account, as well as the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the film.
What a great year 2014 has been for RA (and for us): I think it ALL began with The Anglophile Channel 2013 British Artist of the Year Award! That was followed by Pinter/PROUST in NYC in January; the The Anglophile Channel interviews on its YouTube Channel in February; then Urban and The Shed Crew and its regular updates. In May, we had the audiobook (#1 for the year for Audible, by the way) Hamlet: The Novel that overlapped with The Old Vic’s advance promotion for The Crucible. Once The Crucible opened, we had RA updates every day for three months, as he took the time after each evening performance to meet his followers at the Stage Door. And in the middle of ALL The Crucible’s well-deserved accolades, Into the Storm opened, and RA joined social media. The Crucible wrapped up and RA seemed to be in LA almost immediately for Sleepwalker… and now we have The Hobbit: THORIN (aka #BOFTA)!
RA and all of his followers have been immensely blessed this year; RA has brought us so many gifts of phenomenal performances and delightful appearances. Thank you, RA!
In return, we believe we should give something back.
RA supports a number of charities doing superb,
much-needed good work.
Go to JustGiving for a list of them all,
and give as generously as you can afford.
We know these causes mean much to RA, and he might even prefer
that we spend our money there, rather than a Ferrari.
Marlise Boland of The Anglophile Channel interviews if RA in February were a tremendous hit with fans: RA as you’d never seen him before!
The interviews here: Teaser; First Interview; Second interview; Third Interview; Silly bits.
“Urban and the Shed Crew,” based on a true story by Bernard Hale. IMDb’s description: It’s been described as a tale of heroin and cement, set in Britain’s underclass in the 90s.
Twelve-year old Urban Grimshaw (Fraser Kelly) is Britain’s most runaway child, he’s even been on TVs Crimewatch. His mother is a junkie and his father might as well be dead. He can’t read or write, and he doesn’t go to school. His average day is spent sitting around a bonfire with his mates smoking drugs and stealing cars. When he meets his mother’s new friend Chop (RA), a 37 year old, disillusioned, ex-social worker also living on society’s margins, on one of Leeds roughest estates, the two become firm friends. But even Chop with his own penchant for drink, drugs and hard living is shocked by the state of Urban’s life. After much soul searching he resolves to clean up his own act and save the kid. But as their friendship deepens, Urban introduces him to the Shed Crew the anarchic gang of kids aged between ten and fourteen years who spend their time joy-riding, thieving, and engaging in drugs and sex. It is only then that we see exactly how long the road to civilization really is.
When ex-social worker Bernard Hare turned his startling experiences with a group of young delinquents into a novel it was described as one of the year’s most compelling and best selling books. Urban and the Shed Crew is a stunning piece of ethnography described by The Guardian as moving but never sanctimonious, another City of God, this time for Britain rather than Brazil.
Our album about the production – from photos to interviews with Author Bernard Hale and others – can be found here.
As Urban and the Shed Crew wrapped, RA released Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, brilliantly written by AJ Hartley and David Hewson. Audible.com describes it as: “…a tale of ghosts, of madness, of revenge – of old alliances giving way to new intrigues. Denmark is changing, shaking off its medieval past. War with Norway is on the horizon. And Hamlet – son of the old king, nephew of the new – becomes increasingly entangled in a web of deception – and murder. Beautifully and compellingly performed by actor Richard Armitage Hamlet, Prince of Denmark takes Shakespeare’s original into unexpected realms, reinventing a story we thought we knew.
For RA’s rendition, Audible named it its #1 Audiobook of the year! Listen and you’ll understand why!
RA signed on for an intense, “visceral” three-month gig on stage as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, directed by Yael Farber in-the-round at the Old Vic. Rehearsal photos began showing up early as part of the promotion. Then things got under way in June with the play’s previews, followed by Opening Night in July.
The Crucible is powerful and complex – especially this interpretation – and received well-earned 5-star reviews across the board. Learn more about it on The Old Vic website and in our album here, and share your appreciation of RA and the The Crucible production on our Richard Armitage in THE CRUCIBLE Appreciation page.
During alll the amazing publicity, accolades and sold-out shows of The Crucible, RA’s US film Into the Storm opened! Although it was, as RA called it, a “summer disaster film,” it performed well internationally. More here in our Into the Storm album. (RA US had a crew on the Black Carpet! What an honor!)
AND, on his birthday – again, in the middle of The Crucible run – the very best thing of the 2014 happened: RA joined Twitter. For all his previous comments about not understanding social media (My Space, RA, really? ), he has taken to it like a pro, and seems to be enjoying himself (we certainly are!)! King of the Hashtags and Selfies! It is a welcome link to, and yet another gift to his fans!
Then, toward the end of the run of The Crucible came the news all those who hadn’t been able make the London trip – and, franly, all who’d seen it – had been hoping for: The Old Vic was allowing Digital Theatre to record the production! It would be released in theatres in the UK and Ireland in December, and then globally – except, due to copyright issues, in North America – in theaters in 2015. However, American and Canadian audiences will be able to download a production they never thought to see. What a lovely gift!
So: 1980s poverty-stricken Leeds; 1300s-1400s Denmark; 17th century Salem, Massachusetts… what was next for RA?
The contemporary thriller Sleepwalker, with RA as Dr. Scott White. The Anglophile Channel blog describes it this way: “In a script written by Jack Olsen, Sleepwalker, centers around Sarah (Ahna O’Reilly, best known for her role in The Help) who’s trying to reconstruct her life following the apparent suicide of her novelist husband. After returning to university, to finish her dissertation, Sarah experiences frequent bouts of sleepwalking. She is sent to Dr. Scott White’s (Armitage) sleep research lab for treatment. When Sarah’s life starts to alternate between her waking world and a nightmarish alternate reality, where no one recognizes that she has ever existed, she is plunged into chaos, confusion and terror. The one constant in her shifting world is Scott, the man she’s been longing for all her life. But does Sarah’s true love actually exist, or is it a figment of Sarah’s troubled imagination that derives from wishful thinking and longing? (I think I had a dream like this once…)”
And in November, RA celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iconic North & South, a role that really put him on (our) map, at least.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Already making its international box office power obvious, according to Deadline: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies continues to roll out overseas, planet Earth is becoming dominated by Middle-earth. The finale to Peter Jackson’s big-footed trilogy opened in 17 markets Thursday with No. 1s across the board. Grossing a total $13.7M in 28 markets, the cume at Thursday’s close was $26.6M.”
And it doesn’t even hit the STATES until next week!
I’ve left out other RA projects: his narration of a terrific documentary, not to mention his promotion of the DOS DVD and then the DOS EE DVD, his marathon Hobbit: THORIN promotional tour , and a much-longed for reunion interview with Marlise & The Anglophile Channel; here’s the tease …
And I’ve surely missed some other things as well. TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!
So BLESS YOU, our incredibly hard-working RA! Congratulations on an astonishing year! We can’t wait to see what’s to come!
And remember: See all he’s done for us this year! SO much Access!
Again, one last call-to-action:
Please, everyone, let’s all determine to give something back.
RA supports a number of charities doing incredible work with few resources.
Go to JustGiving for a list of them – Shelter, YoungMinds,
The Salvation Army, Childline, Anthony Nolan
and Barbado’s – and give as generously as you can afford.
And we wish RA and all or his colleagues a lovely, restful, renewing holiday season! Then on to 2015!
Troops, let’s talk seriously for a moment.
I feel the need to comment on our responsibilities as members of the RArmy, and the gift of virtual access that we have been given by the “Urban and the Shed Crew” producers.
I am privileged to be the admin of a FB page that has the most wonderful, generous, remarkable people as members that I have ever encountered. While we may tease each other (and RA), usually the person we laugh at the most is ourselves. And there is a lot of laughter and fun on our page. No discourtesy, much less viciousness. Everyone seems to enjoy everyone else’s comments, point of view and, of course, RA. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we all indulge in a little of Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s “If you can’t say something nice, come sit next to me” attitude. But even then, the comments are based on humor, not spite. All in all, I can’t imagine any of the RA US members being unkind or disrespectful to each other, much less a stranger.
Yet some of the RArmy are being unkind to a stranger – in the form of the “Urban and the Shed Crew” project – that is just making our acquaintance. We’re see far too many RArmy members being disrespectful to an entire production. I find this amazing and, frankly, appalling.
The people behind RA’s latest project are generously reaching out to us – fans of RA, fans of the book, fans of Bernie Hare and all the kids in the crew, fans of the other actors (yes, there are others in this film with followings) – every day. I use the word “generously” advisedly. I’m sure we remember the lack of similar communication from another recent RA film project. But with “Urban and the Shed Crew,” we see regular tweets, and – so far – daily updates of the the Facebook page, usually with a photo.
All of these posts, tweets, photos – all of the information we’re seeing about this project – are gifts, not rights. We didn’t earn this. We aren’t owed this. The people behind “Urban” could just as easily think of us as more trouble than we’re worth as a potential audience worth cultivating. Because in the end, no matter how they treat us, we’ll go see their film.
So before we make another insolent comment or insulting post, please, let’s think twice. Not to be prosaic, but please be nice. We’re representing RA as much as we are ourselves. And, to put it on a more pragmatic level, now the “Urban and the Shed Crew” producers are still choosing to include us in their project. Let’s not make them think twice.
Now, what is essentially an incident from Internet ancient history – i.e. yesterday:
Yesterday the RA Universe exploded with a snapshot from the “Urban” set of <correction> Fraser Kelly (Urban) and two older boys mugging for the camera; it was a cute photo. In the background – way, way back in the background – who could we spot? Waldo! That is to say: RA. Within minutes of being posted, it was all over Facebook and Tumblr. I’m not trying to sound or be sanctimonious – because I succumbed in the end – but I had a bad feeling about it. First, it featured a child; it is a movie about children, but still, child actors have specific rights. Second, it appeared to be someone’s personal Instagram page. In the end, I was also greedy for new content. Although I did ask the owner for permission to use it, I didn’t wait for the owner’s okay. I was impatient. After a couple of hours, I took the word of the original poster that it was public and then posted it.
Big mistake. What’s worse is that I knew it.
A fan site and blog have to have some boundaries and ethical standards. I have a journalism background and I try to run my sites using certain specific editorial integrity guidelines. But this time, I ignored not only my training, but also my instincts.
So, what are the lessons?
- We cannot just purloin photos for our pages/blogs without the owners’ permission, particularly if the appear to be or are on an individual’s personal FB, Twitter or Instagram account (as has been the case before with RA content, and was in this the latest case). And,
- Once the owner asks for the content to be removed, it must be removed immediately! No prevarications, no rationalizations. It has to come down. Further, if you are the fan site contacted, it is your responsibility to let others know of this request and urge them to comply.
RA is not the only private individual in the RA Universe. And if it’s one thing we can and should respect it’s privacy. In light of all RA gives us through his public appearances, or how generous a production may or may not be, he and his colleagues deserve our respect for their privacy!
What happened? The owner contacted me – I had left that information when I requested permission – told me that I did not have her permission, and asked that I take down. I did, and spread the word. The top admins immediately removed it. With others, there were some discussions about its public vs. private nature. In the end, I hope the RA Universe proves itself, and the photo disappears from every public site.
As for me? I won’t make that mistake again. Any photos or content that have any appearance of personal or private nature will require the owners’ explicit permission to post. That will mean that here, our FB page, Tumblr and Twitter accounts will not have content you may see elsewhere. I am not about to go through this kind of “photos used without the family/owner’s permission” situation again (especially when, in my heart and mind, I know better).
Personally, I hope this – and the previous situation – would be a lesson to all of us.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) page has been updated. RA has been added as Chop, and two more cast members have been named:
Thanks to RA US Special Correspondent Chrissy Lampard for the IMDB tip!
Thanks to Richard Armitage Net for this very welcome news item: Richard has been cast in Urban and the Shed Crew, a Blenheim Films production, which has just started filming in Leeds in the UK. The filming will take place over the next 6 weeks. This film is adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, written by Bernard Hare. Richard will play ‘Chop’, an ex-social worker who befriends the eponymous character ‘Urban’.
Read all about it on the Richard Armitage Net website!