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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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4 the shelter (1984)


· 4 ·the shelter (1984)

Phillips (2009) explores nodal points in history linked together by narrative threads: ‘You could say that I’ve been writing and exploring the way of writing and connecting across centuries for ten years’ (20), and a network of relations making for a multiplicity of approaches and interpretations can be established from the plays. The exploration of the consequences of xenophobia on mixed-race couples takes pride of place in Phillips’s last play to be staged in the 1980s where slavery and the mental pressure put on the Windrush generation are now a backdrop:

The subject-matter that presented itself to me, during the turmoil and welter of Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s was determinedly political. How could it be otherwise? I remember struggling to write a play, with a postcard that I had bought in France lying face up on my desk. It was of a white woman’s face, probably that of a woman of thirty or thirty-five, who had just cried, or who would cry. Curled around her forehead, with just enough pressure to cause a line of folds in the skin above her eyes, were two black hands; obviously power and strength slept somewhere within them, but at this moment they were infinitely gentle, describing with eight fingers that moment when a grip of iron weakens to a caress of love. And on the man’s third finger of his right hand a ring; he was not married, at least not...

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