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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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5 writing in spirals


· 5 ·writing in spirals

The violence and sense of emergency conveyed by the plays produced from 1980 to 1984, years of insurrection for the second Anglo-Caribbean generation, are perhaps exposed less blatantly in later works, but recur just as obsessively. As Stephen Moss (2009) observes, Phillipsʼs novels ‘till the same patch of soil—race, identity, the black person’s struggle to live and make himself heard in white society.’ However, in these early plays, we are far from the coldness of In the Falling Snow (2009) underlined by Amy Hungerford (2011, 175), who also notes its seeming lack of passion and level tone. The first writings are marked by an impulse to revolt that expresses itself through characters who fight one another. As Alvin says in Strange Fruit, ‘all three of us [are] tearing each other to pieces, conflict, conflict, conflict!’ (99) Bénédicte Ledent explains this growing moderation by the specificities of the dramatic genre, citing Phillips (2006, 45) on ‘the directness and immediacy of the form’ that enables direct transmission of the charactersʼ thoughts. Ledent also attributes the calmer tone of the novels to the bridging of the intergenerational gap in these works, something that is explicitly ruled out in the early plays. She notes, for example, that Keith in In the Falling Snow, manages to understand his father when the latter relates his Windrush years, whereas Vivienʼs story, in Strange Fruit, is lost to her own children (Ledent 2015). Similarly, in Where...

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