April de Angelis in conversation with Stephen Jeffreys at the ICA
With 20 plays written since 1987, April de Angelis is certainly one of the most important British playwrights of her generation. At a lunchtime talk at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, she chatted informally about her career with playwright and screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys.
Both have been working since the 1980s, and they began by reminiscing about a time, when being involved in culture was very different from today: “I hoped it would get better, better and better, but actually the opposite happened,” shared the woman writer.
An aspiring actress, de Angelis started out with the Monstrous Regiment, a British feminist theatre company that performed between 1975 and 1993. She set her writing career in motion on realising there were no interesting parts for women to play. De Angelis decided to quit acting and concentrate on writing roles that actresses would enjoy.
She states: “I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t writing” – and it’s all for the good – because we wouldn’t be happy if she wasn’t. During this privileged encounter, the audience in the ICA laughed and applauded as if they were enjoying one of her plays.
Full of advice for young writers in the audience, she insisted on how important it has been for her to observe people in all the weirdness of their everyday experiences.
Her comic vision of life and its complexities reflects in all of her work, allowing the audience to see dramatic events differently. Often featuring historical figures, April de Angelis is an artist who has the depth of someone who experienced first-hand the evolution of women in the theatrical word during the past twenty years. She has an insatiable appetite for the stage, its technicality and its emotion. She likes writing, she likes rehearsing, she likes the audience: she likes life.
Two years ago, she thought about putting a stop to her writing career, unsure she had anything further to say. One hopes she will be reassured and know that it will always be a pleasure to listen to what she has in mind.