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Mediating the Windrush Children

Caryl Phillips and Horace Ové

Josiane Ranguin

Mediating the Windrush Children analyses three plays by St. Kitts-born British playwright Caryl Phillips: Strange Fruit (1981), Where There is Darkness (1982), The Shelter (1984), and a film by Trinidadian-British filmmaker Horace Ové, Pressure (1975), as artistic depictions of the experience of the Windrush generation, a term that refers to the Anglo-Caribbean islanders recruited to help rebuild Britain in the aftermath of World War II. These works are vibrant calls to resist visuality as an authoritarian medium, and tools of resilience. The revival of Caryl Phillips’s Strange Fruit at the Bush Theatre, and ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now’, the celebration of Black British artists, among whom Horace Ové, took place in London during the summer of 2019. Both events put into perspective the 2018 Windrush scandal that saw members of the Windrush generation denied their rights as British citizens.
Mediating the Windrush Children should appeal to students engaged in drama studies, film studies and postcolonial literature, as well as members of the general public interested in artistic works focusing on the Windrush generation.

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1 horace ové’s pressure (1975)

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· 1 ·horace ové’s pressure (1975)

The word ‘pressure’ resonates throughout Ové’s film by way of the title song heard during the credits and as a leitmotiv in the soundtrack. The pressure under which Afro-Caribbeans live in Britain is made clear by the psychosocial elements described: a sadness of being and a feeling of disempowerment leading hopefully to political protest and revolt shown in the film to be organised by the British branch of the Black Power movement. I will first address the credits sequence and its link with the Windrush generation as it alludes to an acculturation that is first wished for then experienced as alienating when embraced in the face of a generational and cultural gap that makes children strangers to their parents. Later in the film, the ‘White Dream’ sequence enables us to follow the way Ové explores liminality as a lifestyle. We will conclude the discussion by looking at Ové’s description of the repression/reaction movement that was triggered by the abusive arrests under cover of the ‘Sus Law’1 that allowed any young black man to be searched on suspicion of criminal intent and was one of the key manifestations of institutional racism against Anglo-Caribbean citizens. Pressure is also a coming-of-age film that shows a young British boy slowly accepting the fact that he, too, belongs in the Anglo-Caribbean community after grappling with the glass ceiling and observing the struggles of his brother, a Black Power activist. The fraught ←11 | 12→relationship between...

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