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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.

“Motherland was very much how Caribbeans saw England from a distance, and my parents, along with many others, arrived here on British passports, from Trinidad and Jamaica and wherever else, with a sense of belonging, because this was the country you had always been read about and taught in school. I think the reality on arrival is a whole other experience.”—Zak Ové, from “Get Up, Stand Up Now” (Film), Somerset House, London, 2019

“I first met Horace Ové the way he would want me to meet him—through his work. In 1981, I was working as the Writer-in-Residence at The Factory Community Centre in Paddington. One evening there was a screening of Horace Ové’s film Pressure (1975). I was interested, of course, not only because it was a film by Horace Ové, but it featured a script by Sam Selvon. That these ‘older’ guys were attempting to understand ‘my generation’ was a great revelation to me. I was familiar with their take on those who had arrived from the Caribbean—the first generation, if you like—but Ové and Selvon were trying to examine a second-generation disaffection and alienation with which I was only too familiar.”—Caryl Phillips, 2019