Interview: Local writer Angie Smith tells her own story
Angie Smith, Artistic Director of Jamrock Productions, transports audiences from Huddersfield to Jamaica with her original plays. Her latest play, My Hurt, My Pain, My Dreams, opens at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Friday 31 May.
We sat down with Angie to chat about her inspirations and her love of writing and theatre.
How long have you been writing plays for?
I started writing plays in the 1980s in Jamaica. When I came to England in the ‘90s I continued and haven’t stopped since. So it has been over 20 years of writing plays.
What first inspired you to start writing plays?
People around me used to tell me I made them laugh. I always loved making people happy. I wanted to do something that would make more people happy so I decided to try writing comedies. My audiences seemed to love them and keep coming back.
Your new play, My Hurt, My Pain, My Dreams is based on your true story. Can you give us more information about your journey and the events that inspired the play?
I was born in Huddersfield, but grew up in Jamaica. I came back to England in the 1990s. My vision was to go to university to do Theatre Studies. In those days I was the only person here who was writing plays from Jamaica (in Patois). I pushed myself and tried my best to achieve my dreams, but I was denied the opportunity by the people who were supposed to help me succeed.
In the end, nobody would take responsibility for what happened and why I was denied opportunities. I was knocked down and struggled mentally after that.
People always say they want to hear my story. I’m not the only person who has found hard times like this. There were, and there still are, a lot of Caribbean people in Huddersfield who I want to represent and give a voice to on the stage. So this is my story but it is also for them.
What can audiences expect from the show?
The audience will see more sadness than they might be used to in my plays. It is funny in places, but it is more of a drama than I have written before.
You recently returned to Jamaica for a holiday, what memories did the trip bring back for you?
I had a great trip to Jamaica. I was reunited with my old school friends who used to perform with me on stage when I was a teenager. We haven’t seen each other for so long. They could not believe I was still writing and performing. That’s why I love what I do and why I keep going.
What’s next for you and Jamrock Productions?
For my next play I will be writing a comedy. My audiences love my comedies. This play [My Hurt, My Pain, My Dreams] is different but it is important that I can tell that story. I still encourage my supporters to come along to understand the history of Jamrock Productions. It gives a history to why I’m still writing my plays after so long. But next time I will be bringing a comedy for my audiences.
See Jamrock Productions’ My Hurt, My Pain, My Dreams on Friday 31 May.