DOI: 10.5040/9781784604899.00000002
Scenes: 8. Roles: Male (1) , Female (4) , Neutral (0)

Winsome Pinnock's play Leave Taking is a drama about a woman who came to England from the West Indies, bringing up her two daughters in North London, and the frictions between the two countries and cultures. It was first performed at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio, on 11 November 1987, was toured by the National Theatre's education department in 1994, and was revived at the Bush Theatre, London, on 24 May 2018.

The play is set in North London. Enid Matthews is a hard-working mum who arrived in London from Jamaica and who, abandoned by her husband, has struggled to bring up their two teenage daughters, Viv and Del. Viv is a high achiever with the chance of going to university, while Del has lost her job and stays out all night. When Enid takes her daughters to see Mai, a clairvoyant obeah woman, for some traditional Caribbean soul-healing, secrets are spilled and the family can only heal its divisions by truthfully confronting who and what they are.

In her Introduction to the published script (Nick Hern Books, 2018), Winsome Pinnock writes: 'I wrote Leave Taking, my first full-length play, when I was twenty-three years old. I wanted to make Enid the heroine of the play because I couldn’t recall ever seeing such a character – a hospital cleaner – as the lead in a British play. I specifically wanted to write about the black British experience as distinct from African American culture because producers often seemed to think that they are interchangeable. ... Years after the play was produced at the National Theatre (1994) I was told that it was the first play written by a black British woman to have been produced there. I also learned that it was the first time that a black woman writer and director (Paulette Randall) had worked together at the venue.'

The Liverpool Playhouse production was directed by Kate Rowland and designed by Candida Boyes. It was performed by Ellen Thomas (as Enid), Natasha Williams (as Del), Lisa Lewis (as Viv), Lucita Lijertwood (as Mai) and Tommy Eytle (as Broderick).

The Bush Theatre production in 2018 was directed by Madani Younis and designed by Rosanna Vize. It was performed by Adjoa Andoh (as Mai), Seraphina Beh (as Del), Nicholle Cherrie (as Viv), Wil Johnson (as Brod) and Sarah Niles (as Enid). 

From Leave Taking

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Nick Hern Books

Winsome Pinnock

ISBN: 9781848427402

Series: NHB Modern Plays

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