Pinnock, Winsome 1961-
PINNOCK, Winsome 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in London, England. Education: Goldsmiths' College, London, B.A. (honors), 1982.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Lemon, Unna, and Durbridge, 24 Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11 4LZ, England.
CAREER: Writer and dramatist. Playwright-inresidence, Tricycle Theatre, London, 1989-90, and Royal Court Theatre, London, 1991—. Six-month residency with Clean Break Theatre Company, London, England.
AWARDS, HONORS: Unity Theatre Trust award, 1989; George Devine award, 1991; Thames Television award, 1991; Junior Judith E. Wilson fellowship to Cambridge University, 1997-98.
The Wind of Change, produced in London, England, 1987.
Leave Taking (produced in Liverpool, England, 1988; London, England, 1990), published in First Run, Hern (London, England), 1989.
Picture Palace, produced in London, England, 1988.
A Rock in Water (produced in London, England, 1989), published in Black Plays: Two, Methuen (London, England), 1989.
A Hero's Welcome, produced in London, England, 1989.
Talking in Tongues (produced in London, England, 1991), published in Black Plays: Three, Methuen (London, England), 1995.
Mules (produced in London, England, 1996), Faber (London, England), 1996.
The Rebirth of Robert Samuels, Faber (London, England), 1996.
Water, produced in London, England, 2001.
Also wrote an episode each for the series South of the Border, 1988, and Chalkface, 1991.
SIDELIGHTS: British playwright Winsome Pinnock is one of a small group of black women playwrights whose plays are frequently produced at mainstream British theaters. As the daughter of Jamaican parents, Pinnock's writing is influenced by the role Caribbean heritage plays in the lives of England's black communities.
Pinnock began her career as a playwright when her drama The Wind of Change was produced at London's Half Moon Theatre in 1987. By 1989 she had written two plays—A Hero's Welcome and A Rock in Water—that were produced the same year by the Royal Court Theatre in London. A Hero's Welcome, set in Jamaica, follows the story of three young women coming of age in 1947. A Rock in Water chronicles the life of Claudia Jones, founder of the Notting Hill Carnivals and the first black British newspaper.
In 1996, Pinnock again produced a Royal Court Theatre favorite with Mules. This play, commissioned by the Clean Break Theatre Company, tells of three women—Allie, a British runaway, and Jamaican sisters Lou and Lyla, who work as couriers for the international drug trade. While focusing on the lives of these women, the play carries an overlying impression of the desperation people feel when born to a life of poverty.
Reviews of Mules were favorable, as critics illuminated Pinnock's ability to bring a very real problem to life on stage. Variety contributor Charles Isherwood wrote that "'Mules' has substance to spare. It's a vividly drawn picture of women exploiting themselves—and one another—in the international drug trade."
In 2001 Pinnock wrote her next widely received play, Water, which was produced by Tricycle Theatre in London as part of a double bill with Alice Childress's play Wine in the Wilderness. Pinnock's play tells of a successful young painter who uses her life experiences in her art. During an interview with a journalist, her story turns out to not be what it seems. "The play questions our own lust for … 'authenticity' and 'autobiography' in modern art," wrote New Statesman contributor Lauren Booth.
Critics generally applauded Water, especially in its double-bill spot with Childress's play. Michael Billington, writing for the London Guardian, said that "Tricycle's double bill…. puts to shame" other London theater productions at that time. Billington's article drew attention to the lack of cultural diversity prevalent in British theater in 2001. Pinnock, with her continued success in writing and producing plays that legitimatize stories involving black women characters, continues to reform that trend by reintroducing cultural diversity to the British stage.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Los Angeles Times, June 15, 1997, Jan Breslauer, "This Play Was a Hard Cell," p. 10.
New Statesman, January 27, 1995, "Influences: Winsome Pinnock," p. 21l March 12, 2001, Lauren Booth, "Water and Wine," p. 44.
Variety, June 23, 1997, Charles Isherwood, review of Mules, p. 104.
Voice (London), April 2, 1996, Kesewa Hennessy, "Smack Slavery," p. 27.
Doollee.com, http://www.doollee.com/ (September 29, 2004), "Winsome Pinnock."
Guardian Unlimited, http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/ (October 18, 2000), Michael Billington, "White Out."*