Bush Theatre artistic director Madani Younis will begin a three year initiative by directing a contemporary revival of Leave Taking, Winsome Pinnock’s classic, award-winning play.
The initiative, Passing the Baton, will introduce or reacquaint theatregoers with the artists of colour who carved their way through British playwriting with distinction, paving the way for many of the writers and performers who appear at Bush Theatre.
Winsome Pinnock is considered ‘the godmother of Black British playwrights’ who defined and inspired a generation with her work for the stage.
For each of the three years of Passing the Baton, a promising emerging writer will be given a full-length commission for the main house alongside mentoring to develop their work.
The cast of Leave Taking is Adjoa Andoh, Seraphina Beh, Nicholle Cherrie, Wil Johnson, Sarah Niles.
In Deptford, Del and Viv are soul-sick. Del doesn’t want to be at home – staying out late, 3pm-the-next-day late is more her thing. Viv scours her school books trying to find a trace of herself between their lines.
Secrets are spilled when Enid takes her daughters to the local ‘Obeah’ woman for some traditional Caribbean soul healing.
There’s no turning back for Del, Viv and Enid as they negotiate the frictions between their countries and cultures.
Two generations. Three incredible women. Leave Taking is the epic story of what we leave behind in order to find home.
Winsome Pinnock won the George Devine Award for Leave Taking in 1991 and was the first black British woman to have a play produced at the National Theatre.
She has written numerous, award-winning plays that put black experiences centre-stage.
In 2017, Winsome’s short play, The Principles of Cartography, opened the newly refurbished Bush Theatre as part of Black Lives, Black Words.
Winsome Pinnock said: “The young woman that I was when I first wrote Leave Taking looked forward to a post-racial world.
“The play was last produced in London in 1997 so I was thrilled when, in October, the Bush Theatre informed me that they were going to revive the play.
“The exciting news also gave me pause to reflect on whether the goals of my parents’ generation – often called the Windrush generation and the focus of the play – had been achieved.
“That same month the government released its Racial Disparity Audit.
“Twenty years after Leave Taking was last produced in London the statistics reveal that BAME people continue to face discrimination in almost every sphere of social life whether it be within the criminal justice system, housing or employment.
“It brought into focus the importance of Passing the Baton which I am immensely proud to be part of.
“The initiative will create a dialogue between past, present and future generations as well give a voice to those who continue to be marginalised”.
Leave Taking runs at London’s Bush Theatre from May 24 – June 30.