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Act Three: Black Cherries

YAC’s Andy Alty and Andrew McPherson discuss Act Three’s In Common project, Black Cherries.

Our three Young Actors groups are busily writing scripts for their In Common season of films, to be premiered at Canon’s House, across the borough and online this summer.

In this week’s post, Andy Alty, our creative producer catches up with Act Three director, Andrew McPherson, to get the inside story on their film, Black Cherries.

Andy: This is a really exciting script Andrew – where did the idea come from?

Andrew: Well, we spent the whole of last term researching Wimbledon Common and there was one name that screamed out for our attention: Jerry Abershaw, the Laughing Highwayman.

Andy: He was quite a local legend, wasn’t he?

Andrew: That’s one of the things that really interested us about him. He’s actually rather a terrifying character. He was an outlaw and a murderer as well as a criminal, and yet somehow Act Three and the team fell in love with him.

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Andy: There’s been a lot written about him over the years. What do you think it is about him that draws people in?

Andrew: I think it’s his defiance. He remained unrepentant right until the very end, even as he was facing the hangman’s noose his spirit wasn’t broken.  He drew huge crowds – maybe even as many as 100,000 people turned out for his hanging – and chose to play to the gallery, to make them laugh as he faced his grizzly end. Apparently he went to his death with a flower in his teeth. He was a flamboyant villain and I think that will always appeal to people.

Andy: Huge crowds? Is this a big budget movie?

Andrew: I wish! We’re going to have to be very creative in the way we tell his story. We want to do justice to him and – like him or not – he’s a vibrant and colourful part of Wimbledon’s past. We want him and his anarchist ways to be remembered for at least another 200 years.  

Andy: You’re also working on other stories aren’t you?

Andrew: Yes – one is about the Suffragette movement. The local group used to meet on the Common and there was a lot of local opposition. We’re interested in exploring that. I can’t say too much about it yet but it will be a complete contrast to Black Cherries. 

Andy: Two films- that’s ambitious!

Andrew: At least two! We have a very talented Act Three this year and we learned a lot from last year’s movie project, Isolation – so I think we’re up to the challenge.

Andy: Will you be filming up on the Common?

Andrew: Definitely! We’re also looking for a Prison Cell for Jerry Abershaw – so if anyone has a dingy basement we can film in, please get in touch!