Margaret has always told her little brother Stanley it’s his fault the ice is melting. She doesn’t want to live in the Alaskan tundra. She wants to run away and be a normal teenager in Anchorage. Years later, the rift between the siblings has seismically grown. In a fast-melting world, will love be left behind? Hit writer Tallulah Brown returns to the Fringe following the blazing success of Songlines, with new show, When the Birds Come. Tallulah spoke with The Fountain about the new show and her plans for the Fringe.
TF: When The Birds Come certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
The play is about siblings Margaret and Stanley who have grown up next to the Alaskan tundra and the melting permafrost. Older sister Margaret tells her little brother that it’s his fault the ice is melting, he is to blame for climate change. The second half jumps forward 10 years. From 2015 to 2025 irreversible damage will have been done to the planet and I suppose the play asks whether damage between siblings is irreversible.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I wrote When the Birds Come originally as a radio play about five years ago. I’d heard about this town Newtok in Alaska which will be the first entire town to be relocated due to climate change. I grew up right by the sea in Suffolk, erosion and the Shoreline Management plans that the UK has in place have always been an obsession for me. The setting of Newtok provided me with a much more extreme example of something I’d been trying to say for years. Newtok has been asking for governmental aid to move away from the oncoming river since the 90s, this Summer in 2019 marks the start of that move.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
Last year my play Songlines was co-produced by DugOut and HighTide and on at Pleasance Beneath. Having scored it with my band I sat on stage for every show clutching my guitar and staring out at the audience praying that they liked it, got it, didn’t outright hate it, weren’t going to walk out (one woman tried, but couldn’t find the door so came back – phew!)
The Bryony Kimmings show I’m a Phoenix Bitch I saw at BAC and it reverberates. Everything everyone says about ‘It’s true, it’s true, it’s true’ is absolutely true true true. I loved Charley Miles’ show last year so Daughterhood is on my list as is Lily Ashley’s Voo le Voo, George Chilcott is directing two shows for DugOut, Ed Macarthur’s Humoresque and Goodbear: Dougal, James Rowland has four shows there this year which has made my Summer! Orlando by Lucy Roslyn directed by Josh Roche looks fab, the HighTide programme Disruption at Assembly is a banger AND all hail Fight in the Dog always.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond When The Bird Comes?
From the constantly manic, beehive of my desk I’ve been working on my first radio play which is due to go out on Radio 3 towards the end of the year. I have TV projects in development with Sister Pictures, Warp Films and MGM. Last year’s Edinburgh show Songlines I’m adapting for TV with BBC Studios. My next theatre project is with Anonymous, is a woman who commissioned a play about four female astrophysicists, Heavenly Bodies which I’m working on with the mega talent director Sara Joyce. I’m also hoping to write my first feature. So it’s busy. Which is good!
You can see When The Bird Comes at Underbelly, Cowgate until 25th August at 14:20. For tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/