2015 Funny Women Awards finalist Tamar Broadbent and Emma Pritchard chat about teenage friendships and their new play Split – a comedy about girlhood, growing up and finding out who you are through the eyes of another.
What are the defining memories of teenage girlhood for you?
Emma: Bacardi Breezers. Wishing I was in a girl band. Weekends in the park taking photos on disposable cameras. The trials and tribulations of under 18 club nights. Having terrible periods and sleeping on towels at friends’ houses so I didn’t bleed on their mattresses. Spending hours on the phone. The boy I fancied and thought I was destined to be with fancying my best friend on webcam… very emotionally scarring.
Tamar: Being told I had a weird-shaped bum. Trying to cut my hair to look like Willow from Buffy and having it become a mini afro because it wasn’t the correct consistency. Being called ‘frigid’. Being called a slut. Trying to dress like a slut so I wouldn’t get called frigid. It was all very confusing.
Split is about two best friends. What did your best friend teach you?
Emma: So much. I remember staying up all night and sharing secrets ranging from our favourite member of So Solid Crew and what worried us the most about blow jobs. I can also remember the heartache of being ignored, being ditched and wishing desperately that I looked exactly like them. Stand-out things my best friends taught me? How to pluck my eyebrows, never change for a boy and don’t put toothpaste on your spots.
Tamar: I think that first intense best friendship is how I learned what love was going to be like. That it is both wonderful and dangerous to be obsessed with someone: to enjoy moments more because you can’t wait to tell this person about them, to laugh until your head almost bursts and to need them more than you should. I learned millions of little things from my earliest ex-best friend: how to blend foundation, how to make my boobs look bigger than they are, how not to send three Nokia 3310 max-length text messages as a reply to ‘How r u’… But the most important thing I learned was how to love and how to lose. How you can outgrow another person, stop being good for each other, and have to accept it is time to move on.
What was the inspiration for Split?
Emma: Lots of things! Definitely that we are repeatedly mistaken for teenagers – probably because we refuse to believe workwear can’t include crop tops. Also as twenty-something women trying to find our way in the world we’ve discovered that there is a spirit of girlhood that never really leaves you. It might be disguised by feelings of anxiety about paying rent and world politics or wondering whether it’s too early to start buying anti-wrinkle cream, but all that insecurity and fear still exists and we were fascinated by how our teenage years define who we are now.
Tamar: The most important thing to us was making it funny. Really funny. We wanted to show that teenage girls aren’t all hysteria and body nightmares and ‘drama’ and tears. Girls are hilarious and clever and strong and brilliant, and interesting – interesting enough that we wanted to make a play all about them.
Emma: We also love the complexity of female friendship, which is intensified in your teenage years because your emotions and identity are so conflicted. It’s intimate, protective, fierce – but also turbulent, jealous, competitive and gut-wrenching. Love, obsession, heartbreak are definitely not reserved for romance and we wanted to tell a different kind of love story. The kind you experience before you fall in love for real – when your best friend is your everything.
Why set it in the noughties?
Emma: We wanted to root it in the period of time we grew up in – so the play is set in the early 2000s – before smart phones and social media.
Tamar: Everyone loves nostalgia at the moment and having tested scenes out at comedy nights in London we’ve been excited by audiences ranging from teens to 20/30-somethings to our parents falling in love with moments and characters they recognise.
Emma: Plus it was an excellent excuse to bring back a real pop millennium soundtrack – we sing a lot in the show so it’s a way for us to re-live our dream of being Christina Aguilera.
Why should people come and see Split?
Emma: We can promise you laugh-out loud moments, banging songs and a new burst of energy! We’re really proud of the show and can’t wait to share it.
Tamar: My favourite type of entertainment is comedy with a heart: shows that are honest, tell a story and have the audience leave on a high. And I believe Split will do just that – come see us in Brighton to find out!
If you could give your teenage selves one piece of advice what would it be?
Emma: Don’t start wearing make-up at 13 just because you like the texture of Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse and you think it will make you look cool. You will ruin your skin for life and look like you’re melting. Also don’t use Veet hair removal crème on your bikini line ever – you are allergic and it will be awful.
Tamar: Read more books and chase fewer boys, be nicer to your Mum – she really does know best, and don’t grow up so fast. But… if you must, just make sure you do some stupid, brilliant, awful and ridiculous things that are inspiring enough to make you want to write a play about them one day.