Conceived on the boat of an asylum seeker, Fish Child hovers above the Woomera Immigration Detention Centre in the Australian desert, reluctant to be born.
Her mother becomes enmeshed in an increasingly deadly struggle with a prison guard, bargaining for her child's future. The grim and surprising outcome forms a dark prism through which the brutal realities confronting those who arrive unbidden in Australia's waters are refracted.

SLOW FALLING BIRD explores the warping social and mental conditions on both sides of the wire, and asks what kind of new life, and new society, can be born into such barren surroundings. By turns bleak and darkly comical, it veers between the harsh realism of the prison camp and the hallucinatory excesses of the Karaoke Bar in the desert.
It takes place against the wider background of a world with tightly patrolled borders and an increase of 'non-citizens' without civil rights. It is a journey to the desert: both a literal place and a contemporary desert of the mind.

Winner of 2004 Monash Student Association Playwriting Prize.
Winner of San Francisco State University Rella Lossy Playwriting Award.

  • neo-realism, heightened drama
  • 90
  • 9 total
  • 4 female identifying, 5 male identifying
  • culturally and linguistically diverse
  • 16 to 18, 18+
  • young adult, adult
  • Australian Script Centre


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Female | 30s | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 37

EXTRACT: And when you wash up on shore it will be quiet at last. So very quiet. You can hear your own heart beating and the tide going out, taking the boat and all its water-ghosts with it. Yes, you're stranded all alone- but the sand's still warm as blood, like a blanket. And by the time you notice how far out the water's gone, you won't be thinking about who's drowned. Because by then, the wild dogs of this land will be all around you. And that's the time to smile, my baby. Smile and show your teeth.


Female | Unspecified | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 73

EXTRACT: ..he comes home and says he can't wake up, I don't see the problem with that but I can't ask what's that smell on your skin, like metal and something else, an animal smell, I'm not stupid, we don't talk about work, we just go to bed and rock towards you, circling like the shadows the ceiling fan makes and it just goes round and round and some days I never want to wake up (beat). Sorry.

Adult themes

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