Recently, there has been a wealth of storytelling through film and theatre productions which explore the lives of the Windrush generation. These are a few examples of inspiring stories.
Passages: Seven Films for Seven Decades
To mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the passenger liner VE Windrush the Royal Court Theatre, commissioned Passages: Seven Films for Seven Decades. and it was produced in association with Black Apron Entertainment and theatre director Christopher Haydon. The films focus on the British West Indian experience and touches on the recent Windrush scandal.
Each film is a monologue and focuses on a decade since the ship first docked in Tilbury, Essex and includes writers Rikki Beadle-Blair, Natasha Gordon, Lynette Linton, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Shereen Jasmin Phillips, Winsome Pinnock, Jamael Westman, and Roy Williams. The films are entitled Cecil, Carmen, A Place for you and me, Paved with gold, The Collector and Dominoes for beginners.
The films highlight the contribution of the Windrush generation to Britain and detail the lives of young Caribbean settlers in the UK. It includes aspects of the Caribbean culture such as music, playing dominoes and how these things served as reminders of home and a way of maintaining cultural traditions.
Lynette Linton, who curated the project said: "I always knew I wanted to create something around the Windrush generation. It’s a part of British history. Yet, I hadn’t been taught about it at school. Why? If it hadn’t been for my own personal connection, I wouldn’t have known much about this period at all. And then the scandal happened. And I wasn’t even surprised. I was and am still angry. Frustrated. Desperate to do something.
“I wanted to find a way of celebrating how much our parents and grandparents have contributed to this county while acknowledging the struggle too. So I spoke to those with West Indian heritage around me, as well as artists I respected, and asked for their opinion. How do we honour this anniversary? What did we want to say? How do we give a voice to our community in a time where we should be celebrating our legacy but instead we’re worrying for our grandparents’ safety?
“Passages: A Windrush Celebration is our contribution to this debate. I am thrilled to be working alongside so many artists from my community that I admire and respect. We wouldn’t be here without the Windrush generation. It is time for us to tell our story using our own words.”
Andrea Levy's Orange Prize winning novel was streamed with the National Theatre at Home to mark Windrush Day 2020. Small Island was adapted for the stage and filmed live during its sold out run in 2019. It follows the story of a black woman and a white woman sharing a house in Earls Court in London in 1948 and approaches the post-war experience of black and white people as a shared history.
Black Britain on Film
The British Film Insitute's website has a dedicated section Black Britain on Film (external link) which features a huge variety of images of black culture, community and characters, covering almost a century of British film and television. The collection charts changing attitudes, trailblazers, icons, stereotypes and controversies and surprising histories of black culture and community. Past and contemporary performers such as Paul Robeson, Elisabeth Welch and Noel Clarke are included and the best of black British filmmaking is highlighted.