Name of Edinburgh show: When The Birds Come, by Tallulah Brown
Performance time: 1st – 25th August
Show length: 60 minutes
Ticket price: From £7.80
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
My name is Phoebe, I’m from London… I love tea, there’s nothing better than a cuppa tea in the morning with a drop of oat milk!
I didn’t go to drama school, I went to Manchester University to study Drama and, after lots of hard work, I got an agent.
My first ever professional job was when I was about 11 and I worked with the ENO in the Children’s Chorus on and off for three years. Since then, I’ve worked with The National Theatre Jane Eyre, The Southwark Playhouse Mother Courage, The North Wall Fragments. I’ve also had the pleasure of working directly with hugely talented writers such as Jonathan Harvey Beautiful Thing and Rupert Street, Sami Ibrahim Force of Trump, Wind Bit Bitter Bit Bit Bit Her, Piers Black Hawkins Enveloped In Velvet, Lowell Walker Post Coital and now Tallulah Brown!
I find new writing tremendously exciting, especially when it feels very urgent and topical. So I am very much looking forward to this collaboration!
Tell me about your new show, what it is all about?
When The Birds Come, written by the wonderfully gifted Tallulah Brown, is about a sister and brother that grow up in the Alaskan Tundra in a climate crisis.
My character Margret who is thirteen when the play starts is a very bright, slightly precocious young girl with a wild imagination and from a young age, she tells her younger brother, Stanley, that it is his fault the ice is melting.
She is disenchanted with her, rapidly melting, surroundings and wants to run away with her brother to a more consumer-driven society where she can watch Taylor Swift and be ‘normal’.
The sibling tie is severed when Margret leaves and never comes back. The pair reunite when they are older and their views on how to live in a fast-melting world, couldn’t be more opposing.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2019?
We are about to begin rehearsals and I cannot wait to get in the room with all the talented people involved!
It is hugely relevant, not only because we are in a Climate Change Emergency, and it is set in a melting world, but also because it is a play about love, guilt and loss which are all identifiable human emotions.
Unfortunately, we are still looking at climate change and its devastating environmental impact, as something that could happen and, regardless of the evidence, the problems we are facing continue to be laughable myths to some. When The Birds Come depicts a future that will exist if we don’t make big collective changes right now!
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Talk to people you don’t know and factor 50 for the flyers out there!
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I was doing Mother Courage at The Southwark Playhouse. Act 2 was supposed to start with an actor running on to the stage, shouting about a fire breaking out and the stakes were meant to be really high!
But one night the actor just didn’t come on… I think he missed the call because he was on the loo! What was only a few minutes felt like an absolute lifetime! Josie Lawrence, playing Mother Courage, completely lived up to her reputation and did some excellent improvisation to save it.
But the best bit was, because the actor had gotten so panicked, flustered and full of adrenaline, after rushing out the toilet and on to the stage, when he did finally run on and shout ‘fire, fire!’, he really went for it, it was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen…I’m cracking up just thinking about it! Luckily my character was a mute otherwise I definitely would have laughed through a line!
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I’ve always admired Jessica Hynes was but even more so after watching Years and Years! I love Emma Thompson. I met her once and she told me to always write so I have done ever since. Julie Walters, Shirley Henderson, Anne Marie Duff, Olivia Colman, Denise Gough… the list goes on…
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Lots of warm-ups, wees, water and love to the company!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Closer to Heaven with music by The Pet Shop Boys at The Assembly Rooms! I did a couple of his plays last year, including the 50th anniversary of Beautiful Thing. He is a brilliant writer and human!
Catching Comets by Piers Black Hawkins at The Pleasance Courtyard and Pops by Charlotte Josephine at Assembly Festival, presented by Jake Orr Productions and HighTide.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
To find out When The Birds Come…
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA