Artist Interview: Megan Holloway

After another tumultuous winter for the arts community, Performing Lines reached out to some of our associated artists to touch base. In this series of interviews, which will be published throughout October, we spoke about lockdown coping strategies, how each artist’s practice and perspective has changed over the past year, and where creative work fits in the middle of a pandemic (if at all).

Today we hear from Megan Holloway; artist, performer and the mind behind the raucous drag king Craig Slist.

While Covid has significantly disrupted our capacity to work in the arts, this can provide down time to reconnect with other art forms. What are some of the things you’ve been reading, watching, or listening to?

Absolutely. Despite all the obvious set backs and unease during this time, I’ve felt extremely grateful for the pause and space to reflect and redirect.

I found it challenging to engage with screens and so poured my energy into reading.

My wonderful friend Tilly Lawless who is a passionate consumer of books and a very talented, recently published writer herself, regularly drops things over to me from her personal collection.

Some books I’ve recently read are; The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Zami: A New spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and of course Tilly’s book Nothing But My Body.

I love non-fiction and first hand accounts of people’s lives and experiences, which all these books do. These writers perfectly invite you into what was their present day truth, giving the reader a greater understanding of the queer experience on both a very personal and public level. Reaffirming, insightful, life-changing stuff.

Megan Holloway, a white nonbinary performer with their hair in ponytails, stands in a doorway wearing a red and white gingham dress. They hold the hem of the dress up to their face, revealing layers of red tulle in the skirt.
Megan Holloway performing as Drag King Craig Slist. He is fair skinned and peroxide blonde with slicked back hair. He's wearing white overalls speed dealer sunglasses and an n95 mask while holding a bottle of hand sanitiser.

There does seem to be a bit of pressure to use our time productively during this pandemic. We keep seeing this very factually suspicious meme circulating, claiming that Shakespeare wrote King Lear throughout a plague. Have you found this expectation of creativity in such  to be a realistic standard?

The iconic Michaela Coel answers this question better than I ever could in her recent Emmy Award acceptance speech-

“In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”

I felt a huge weight of self imposed pressure lift when I read that. Social media and the Internet has conditioned in us the need for instant gratification. We view our accomplishments and failures now with much more immediacy.

My interpretation of her words speak perfectly to reimagining our ideas around expectation and output, failure and success. A reminder to reconnect with our core values, artistry over profit and investment in long term goals and grand visions, all of which I’m tying to invite into my own art practice and life in general.

What has been bringing you joy recently?

I have four nieces all under the age of 6 who live in Boorloo (Perth). Being separated from them for the better part of this pandemic has been really hard. A way we have been able to connect is through sending letters and drawings through the post. Kids have such pure and fantastical imaginations at that age. They send me fabulous, colourful drawings of sharks and dinosaurs, blobs and swirls, new words they’ve learnt to spell…

Receiving their unique, artistic little creations has definitely been bringing me immense amounts of joy.

Megan Holloway is a multi disciplinary performance artist and actor from Perth.

Graduating from The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and relocating to Sydney in 2009, she cut her teeth in the world of professional theatre both here and abroad touring shows with Belvoir Street Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Black Swan State Theatre Company and Lucy Guerin Inc.

Megan’s independent solo and collaborative work channels drag, comedy and clowning through the monikers Three Piece Feed, The Working Bitches and drag king Daddy, Craig Slist.

She is a regular performer at Sydney queer night life institutions, festivals and happenings such as The Red Rattler Theatre, The Bearded Tit, Kooky, Sydney Kings, Day for Night, and Vivid.

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.