5 Reasons You Should Know About Winsome Pinnock

We’re just taking a moment here to appreciate the wonder and queen that is the playwright and academic Winsome Pinnock. We’re staging a contemporary revival of her seminal play Leave Taking in 2018.

1. She was the first Black woman to have a play at the National Theatre

This fact is both mega cool (for her) and super depressing (for the industry) that Winsome was the first Black woman to have a play at the National Theatre with Leave Taking in 1988 directed by Paulette Randall as part of a UK tour by their education department. Nearly thirty years later, she’s still one of the only Black women to have been programmed there. She wrote a short play The Principles of Cartography for our reopening production of Black Lives, Black Words in 2017 and spoke to Time Out:

“If you think women writers are under-represented in theatre, then my God, black women writers are severely under-represented. They don’t get the nurturing they need to grow.” Read the Time Out interview here.

Portrait of Winsome Pinnock by Andy Parsons for Time Out London

Portrait of Winsome Pinnock by Andy Parsons for Time Out London

2. Harold Pinter hand wrote her this awesome note

Take a pause. Yep. That’s a handwritten note from Harold himself. It says:

“Dear Winsome.
Enjoyed ‘Leave Taking’ greatly. Very strong, alive & moving. Very good performances. It was also nice to meet you. Good luck for 1995!


3. The Guardian called her “the godmother of Black British playwrights”

Enough said. You can read the piece here.

4. She’s had more than 15 extraordinary plays produced

Her award-winning plays include The Wind of Change (Half Moon Theatre, 1987), Leave Taking (Liverpool Playhouse Studio and National Theatre, 1988), Picture Palace (Women’s Theatre Group, 1988), A Hero’s Welcome (Women’s Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 1989), A Rock in Water (Royal Court Young People’s Theatre at the Theatre Upstairs, 1989), Talking in Tongues (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 1991), Mules (Clean Break Theatre Company, 1996) and One Under (Tricycle Theatre, 2005). Academically inclined? Here’s a bibliography of criticism on Winsome Pinnock.

She has received lots of awards including Unity Theatre Trust Award, George Devine Award (1991), Thames Television Award for best play of the year (1991), and Pearson Plays on Stage Award for Best Play of the Year and was runner up for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (1994). She had a Junior Judith E. Wilson fellowship at Cambridge University.

5. Winsome is career goals and totally inspirational

Not only is she an illustrious playwright but she’s also a senior lecturer (currently at Kingston University), worked for Arts Council England, been a script editor, served as a member of teaching staff and board member at the Royal Court, and judged writing competitions.

“Theatre is a sort of moral conscience of a society, an arena where a society can examine itself. If some voices are missing, I don’t think that it’s honestly fulfilling that role and is, in fact, practising a subtle form of censorship.” Winsome Pinnock

We’re staging a contemporary revival of her classic play Leave Taking in May 2018. It premiered at Liverpool Playhouse Theatre in 1986 and has played at Contact Theatre (Manchester), Belgrade Theatre (Coventry), Lyric Hammersmith and the National Theatre. Don’t miss it!

Our Artistic Director, Madani Younis, directs Leave Taking as part of our new Passing the Baton programme to reacquaint you with artists of colour who carved their way through British playwriting with distinction.

Winsome Pinnock said: “The season will create a dialogue between past, present and future generations as well give a voice to those who continue to be marginalised.” Find out more about Passing the Baton in Winsome’s introduction.