Everything that could have gone wrong for me as a teenager did. I turned up to prom in the same dress as the scariest person in the year. I had an allergic reaction to Veet trying to experiment with my bikini line before a beach party. I bled on so many friends’ beds at sleepovers one of my strongest skills as a 14-year old was flipping a mattress.
In many ways, I’m thankful I’m not a teenager anymore. Worries about body hair and mufti day have been replaced by concerns about paying my rent on time and not getting squashed to death on the Victoria line. One of the highlights of my twenties has been meeting Tamar Broadbent – Tamar’s not only the other half of Split, she’s an outrageously talented, award-winning musical comedian and one of my best friends.
We started working together in 2013. Three years ago, we were touring Tamar’s solo comedy show in Australia, determined to survive the sun, to avoid the spiders and to be taken seriously. On the final night of the show, the owner of the venue asked us how we’d be spending the rest of the summer holidays and when school started back in England… and we realised we had fallen victim, not for the first time in our working lives, to being mistaken for teenagers.
As we mused over this dilemma in a pancake restaurant in Sydney (an ideal place to contemplate any conundrum) we laughed, continued to sweat under our arms, and decided it was a sign. We were going to write a play. A play celebrating what it is to be a teenage girl. A play about the joys, tears and total mortifications – a play about going through it all with your best friend, growing up and discovering who you are through the eyes of another. It would be a love story – that first love, before you fall in love for real. Oh, and it had to be funny. Seriously funny.
Female friendship is intimate, nurturing, fierce. It’s also turbulent, competitive, and gut-wrenching. Love, jealousy, heartbreak – they’re definitely not emotions exclusive to romance. Maybe it’s lucky that Tamar and I became friends in our early twenties and skipped out some of the stress. Though sometimes I still get jealous of the fact that Tamar is small enough to fit in a washing machine.
About a year and a half ago, we created some sketches. Two girls meeting on the first day of secondary school. The social event that is declaring your new gel pens. Showing someone around your house for the first time and it being a bit smaller than they expected. The moment you become best friends.
We performed them at a comedy night in London and were overwhelmed with the response. Women in the audience would tell us their worst secondary school stories or how much they miss Avril Lavigne. Men told us they realised that girls could absolutely equal those nightmares about wet dreams and public erections. We realised that everyone loves a bit of nostalgia – and we had a new (and old) story to tell.
Split is here to prove that being a teenage girl is so much more than hysteria or insecurity – it is hilarious, heart-warming and the stakes have never been higher. Alongside working full time jobs, testing out ideas at various festivals, and surviving a generally stressful millennial existence (it’s hard constantly combatting a reputation that all we do is buy avocados!), we’ve created a one act play. Somewhere along the line we decided this show needed a soundtrack and we’ve hand-picked the best songs from the millennium to remix in.
We are so excited to bring Split to Vault Festival and feel lucky to be working with a team of female creatives who are complete superheroes: director Sara Joyce who takes our breath away with her ideas, wit and general wisdom, choreographer Michelle Payne who didn’t bat an eyelid at the thought of creating an unforgettable dance mat sequence, and our associate producer Joanna Lally who keeps us all sane.
We are honoured to be a part of such a brilliant line-up this year. We think of Vault as a place to experiment, make people laugh, an opportunity to escape city life, whether it’s for an hour or an entire weekend, and artists coming together to support each other and to tell brilliant stories in unique ways. We can’t wait to see you there.
Split is playing at the Network Theatre as part of VAULT Festival from February 28 to March 4. For more information and to book tickets, visit https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/split/