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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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3 where there is darkness (1982)

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· 3 ·where there is darkness (1982)

Where There Is Darkness, which premiered in 1982, is a play where Albert, the main protagonist, is considering a return to the Caribbean. He addresses his British wife, Ruth, in a tone both sarcastic and imprecatory, a sign of extreme psychological tension resulting from the pressure of living in Britain, a theme that is pregnant in Phillips’s works of that period. Celebrating his imminent departure from Britain, Albert is waiting for his son Remi’s arrival. After a short soliloquy, he is seen speaking to Huston, the father of the girl he is about to marry on an unnamed Leeward Island. When Albert returns to the present of the play, he still has his head in his hands. The play is built on flashbacks to Caribbean scenes and returns to the present in Britain, times of great expectations on the one hand and disillusionment on the other. The sense of discontinuity and rupture felt by the characters is an integral part of the play.

Albert, depicted holding his head in both hands at the beginning of the play as if suffering from a violent headache, is tormented by remorse: ‘I did wrong by a lot of people.’ (34) He has betrayed a promise to his father-in-law to take good care of his daughter and future grandson, usurped his wife’s dowry, abandoned her when pregnant, and let his business partner go alone to jail after an accidental fire destroyed the unlicensed pub...

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