If 2020 taught us anything it is that Black Lives Matter and that we all could do more to be better educated in Black History. When we begin to scratch the surface of that, we see a history of people that are progressive, resilient and revolutionary in their approach to equality and justice.
My name is Andrew McPherson, I’m a film and theatre director, playwright and all-round theatre nerd. I graduated from East 15 Acting School’s celebrated BA World Performance course in 2013. World Performance helped me to define not only the theatre that I make now but also huge parts of who I am. The course celebrates performative culture from places that pre-drama school I’d never heard of while picking and fraying at the aspects of culture that divide us and bind us. I’m incredibly proud to now be teaching and directing on this one-of-a-kind course following what felt like a real hustle into the arts industry. I’ve worked for and had shows at incredible venues like the Old Vic Theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, New Wimbledon Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East. Having the weight and precedence of an Acting School like East 15 behind you serves as a fantastic start to a journey like mine.
In 2019, SPID Theatre Company, where I now work as Project Coordinator, was commissioned to find a performative way to explore the effects of the Race Relations Acts of the 1960s and 70s. These Acts were enshrined into British law in response to the heroic work of activists like Altheia Jones-LeCointe and Darcus Howe. Remarkable, well educated, creative thinkers that helped reshape and define what it means to be British.
These first three Race Relations Acts tell a story of slow progress for human rights. The Race Relations Act of 1965, for example, only made it illegal to be racist in public and it wasn’t until the Act of 1976 that the educational rights of the global majority were even considered. Despite the slow progress, the impact of these Acts is still living and breathing today. These Acts would go on to be used as a model to create the Equalities Act of 2000, later amended in 2010, which is the Act that gives every one of us the basic human rights we exercise today. We all owe thanks to Black History.
We wanted to honour these Acts as a new beginning for Black History and for British History, we wanted to create something honest, something inclusive and something built with love. And so, we pieced together a well thought-through team, a cutting-edge rehearsal plan involving incredible theatre-makers, researchers and activists and outreached to 18 brilliant young actors, including fellow East 15 graduate Felix Ryder. They have brought to you, in an accessible and exciting way, the brilliance of the history-making, attitude-shifting, mind-blowing activists that shaped modern Britain.
We created The Dream, a radio play written and directed by Nnenna Samson Abosi and co-directed by Connie Bell and myself. The play tells the story of a black British teenager as he discovers police brutality and the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s and 1970s in West London. We’re making this powerful online audio experience is available to stream until 17 February 2021.
Social Media: @SPIDTheatre
Graduate - BA World Performance (2013), East 15 Acting School, University of Essex
I’m a film and theatre director, playwright and all-round theatre nerd. I graduated from East 15 Acting School’s celebrated BA World Performance course in 2013 and I'm incredibly proud to now be teaching and directing on this one-of-a-kind course.