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Megan Keaveny and Ellie Campbell (MissMatch) - Is This Thing On? Interview

Meet flatmates Mary and Liz, one a musician and the other a poet, as they battle over integrity, ownership, the spotlight and whose turn it is to buy the toilet roll. As their friendship reaches boiling point, one fateful open mic night forces them to confront each other over whose right it is to tell someone’s story. This two-hander dramedy blends stand up, song, spoken word, rap, and storytelling to investigate what’s better - sad songs or sh*tty poetry?

Is This Thing On? is written by Megan Keaveny and Ellie Campbell (MissMatch), and is an electric new piece of devised theatre co-produced with So La Flair Theatre. This collaboration marks MissMatch's debut into the theatre scene with the show already being praised as 'full of humanity, heart, and humour' (MancMade Productions).

Photo by Aaron Shaw Photography.

As well as being So La Flair's well anticipated return from their sparkling tour of 'How To Keep Up With The Kardashians' (2022) which celebrated them as the 'company worth watching' (British Theatre Guide).

Ahead of the production touring Northern England we caught up with Megan and Ellie aka MissMatch to learn more.

Where did your arts career begin?
Megan’s arts career began with a wannabe-bass-player dad and a mum desperate for her daughter to be a member of the next ABBA. Ellie's art career began when her dad forced her into youth theatre to coax his shy daughter out of her shell, and before you know it she was playing her career-igniting role of the Cheshire Cat.

Were there any people or performances that had a big impact on your formal career years?
Ellie grew up around an amazing community at Dundee Rep Theatre and got involved in every way possible (and we mean every way possible…). Her dream of meeting and acting alongside David Tennant was also a big driving factor. Megan wouldn't be following a career in the arts if her mum hadn't told her (to everyone's surprise) to abandon her pursuit of a sensible career in engineering to follow her passion for creative unemployment.

Where did your writing journey as a duo begin?
Over a Wagamamas, where Megan was spitballing an idea for a one woman show- which by the end of their ramen, had turned into a two woman show.

Where did the inspiration for this piece come from?
At first, the show was meant to be a modern adaptation of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. While we have still kept the themes of sisterhood and female competition, the piece quickly developed into something much more familiar to us than 17th century politics.

How did you approach writing and developing the show?
We would write individually quite a lot, but in the six weeks leading up to our first RnD sharing, we somehow managed to spend 24/7 together devising, mind mapping and improvising. To be honest, it didn't really feel like we were ‘writing' a play- we were just messing about in a rehearsal room, until someone asked to read the script so we had to write it down.

The piece combines stand-up, song, rap, spoken word and storytelling. How did you approach blending these styles together?
This isn’t just the style of the piece, but a key part of the narrative: the characters use these mediums at the open mic nights that they perform at. Our approach began with exploring how the characters approach these styles, but then we began experimenting with how these styles could bleed into the characters’ everyday life- not just their onstage personas.

Photo by Aaron Shaw Photography 

With teaming up with So La Flair to bring the piece to the stage, how has it been working with them?
As two emerging artists trying to produce their first ever show, So La Flair have been the most supportive and empowering platform with whom to develop our knowledge and experience. They're also just a bunch of badass beauties.

How would you describe your artistic style to anyone who hasn’t encountered your work before?
Funny, refreshing, and full of oomph.

If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why?
Ellie would be a jammy dodger because that was everyone’s favourite as a kid. Megan would be a ginger nut for obvious reasons.

What keeps you inspired?
Watching good theatre, seeing friends make great work, and collaborating with other emerging artists to remind us that it’s possible.

What does theatre mean to you?
A space that welcomes all and is supportive, but also challenges, inspires and questions.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing Is This Thing On?
We want people to be travelling home having a debate with their mates. But also feeling like they’ve belly-laughed and had their heart-strings played.

Is This Thing On? plays at the following venues:
Contact Theatre, Manchester - 17th until 20th April 2024
Trencherfield Mill, Wigan - 25th April 2024
Slung Low, Leeds - 4th May 2024

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