Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Today I Killed My Very First Bird
Pleasance Courtyard (Beside)
Aug 3-9, 11-16, 18-29, 14:00 / Tickets
June 29, 2022
Pacey, powerful, and heartbreakingly authentic, Today I Killed My Very First Bird explores hope and despair, combining immersive sound and bold storytelling to create a vivid and visceral theatrical experience.
Hi Lee, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
I’ve been more creative than ever. Lockdown was interesting and meant I had to get familiar with home educating my two kids. We were having to restructure our lives and find new ways to have fun and to learn.
The engagement projects I help run at Theatre Royal Plymouth all continued online, so we were able to continue supporting members of the public with complex and multiple needs through weekly online theatre-making workshops.
It’s amazing to get back into the shared physical space and to play and respond to things in the moment, as opposed to the clunkiness of technology. It feels like there’s a genuine interest and support for creating new work with people who aren’t from traditional theatre backgrounds and this show is certainly not from a conventional theatre making model.
How does it feel to heading to Edinburgh Fringe with your Debut Show after everything that has happened?
It feels amazing to be going to the first festival after this break. It’s going to be a brilliant one. I think we’ll see an explosion of creativity and I’m pleased to be going there and joining the conversation and wonderful exchange of ideas. I feel really proud of this work and I’m excited to share it with a wider audience.
Are there going to be any nerves ahead of your first show at The Pleasance?
Yes but not necessarily because I’m nervous about the show. I’m really excited to be taking the show to Edinburgh. Probably the biggest challenge will be figuring out what I’m going to do with my two kids for the four weeks during the school holidays.
One of the vital aspects of Edfringe is The Royal Mile during August, have you got your shows sales patter down or are you still tweaking it?
Definitely still tweaking that!
Can you tell me a little bit about Today I Killed My Very First Bird, what can we expect?
The show is based upon the lived experience of writer and performer Jason Brownlee. It’s a relentless, epic poem charting a day in the life of a Southeast London gangster. It’s brutal, unflinching and at times very tender. We meet important characters in his life and discover some of the causes and conditions that have led him to the life he’s living. It’s performed by a cast of five from really diverse backgrounds and experiences.
When you preview a show how much does it change before a major festival and do you still allow yourself some flexibility once a run has started?
With this show we’ve certainly allowed ourselves time to make changes. We’ll re-record some of the score that’s been written by composer Greta Hennessy and make some minor tweaks with the script. But once we get into the run, we’ll want the actors to feel comfortable and confident in the material, so we shouldn’t be making any changes then.
"I’m really interested in helping people tell their own story, helping them find the tools to do that and developing audiences that could benefit from hearing them."
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
I didn't really know what a theatre was until I was well into my teens. There wasn’t a theatre in my hometown. I was raised on TV and cinema but I had a little sister who was really into dance and she encouraged me to try out a drama class when I was 18-years-old and a bit lost. One of the first trips that I went on with this course was to watch a production of The Devils starring Kathryn Hunter which totally blew my mind and pretty much from that point on, I’ve never wanted to do anything else.
What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after making this show?
It’s not a brand new discovery but this show consolidates and reaffirms the kind of work that I want to make, drawing upon the last 12 years or so when I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including prisons, rehabilitation centres, refugee resettlement areas.
I’ve come to realise that everyone has got a story to tell and people who find themselves in some of the most challenging parts of life have often got the most urgent and compelling stories. I’m really interested in helping people tell their own story, helping them find the tools to do that and developing audiences that could benefit from hearing them.
What one word best describes your show?
In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?
Yes definitely, it’s a great chance to see as much work as possible, to be inspired, to fill the creative well having spent so long with my own work, it’s really important to feed on the brilliance of others.
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?
When I went to work with a company called Footsbarn, originally from Cornwall but now based in rural France, the director Paddy Hayter would always meet every idea suggested with “let’s try it” and I’ve always tried to adopt that same philosophy of trying out anything that’s offered to the space.
Do you have a favourite theatre quote?
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on” – Prospero in The Tempest
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Today I Killed My Very First Bird?
We haven’t set out to create a show that pushes any particular agenda but I hope people can connect with the very human story at its heart.