🥳 Celebrating Black British Identity: ‘Leave Taking’ Play Review 🥳

I’m reading the new AQA texts to see if as with Leave Taking, these plays are well chosen and an insight into Black British identity…

Name: Leave Taking

Author: Winsome Pinnock

Published: 1987

Did you know that AQA are updating their modern drama set texts for the GCSEs in 2025? The Princess and the Hustler is one of the proposed texts to add more diversity to a predominantly dead-white-men canon. And while we shouldn’t denounce all texts by dead-white-men, it’s so important that students see themselves represented in the texts that they study.

As a literature student who recently did her GCSEs, I’m reading the new proposed texts so you don’t have to. To see if, as with this play, these texts are well chosen and an insight into Black British identity.

Check out my reviews of the other texts, The Princess and the Hustler and My Name Is Leon, by clicking on their titles. While there is still changes that could be made regarding diversity in the English Curriculum, Leave Taking is an excellent play and one students (such as myself!) will love. Here’s why.

I really enjoyed Leave Taking. It follows Enid, a first generation immigrant, and her two daughters Viv and Del. The play’s highlight for me was Enid’s powerful monologue at the end of the play. Her relationship with life long friend Brod was incredibly human and highlighted the exploration of nationality, immigration, and identity evident throughout Leave Taking. The scenes felt natural and flowed into each other.

I also learned a lot about ‘obeah’ practices which were totally new to me. This highlights how important it is that this play is taught at GCSE to educate students on Caribbean healing traditions. There is something incredibly beautiful about the obeah practises and ‘soul sickness’ that threads throughout the play.

The obeah adds to the cyclical nature of the play – Leave Taking both began and ended with the obeah, yet with Del symbolically taking over from Mai.

In Leave Taking, I think that students will really resonate with the intergenerational conflicts… 😂 The mother-daughter relationships between Enid, Del and Viv are poignant and will be relatable for many students. I really liked that Viv was doing her GCSEs – it is rare and refreshing to see other GCSE students in texts we study!

I found some interesting videos on the play on the Bush Theatre website, but there isn’t loads of resources online. This would be a problem for teens trying to revise, but hopefully once the texts are properly in circulation, there will be more resources available.

What do you think about AQA adding plays with more diverse authors and characters to their set texts? Let me know in the comments.

While the diversity in my book recommendations isn’t perfect, I’m always trying to read books about challenging subjects. The Princess and the Hustler can be read by anyone, however I mostly read YA and feel more confident recommending it. Young adult books I’d recommend that tackle racism include:

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

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