Grounded Background

Grounded Background

Grounded is a full-length play written by George Brant. The premiere was mounted at the London’s Gate Theatre and proved so successful that it has since been translated into nearly a dozen languages for productions around the globe. Grounded won the National New Play Network's 2012 Smith Prize and collected a 2013 Edinburg Fringe Festival Fringe First award as well as an Off-West End Theatre Award for Best Production of 2013.

Grounded features just one character, an unnamed woman who had enjoyed a successful career as a fighter pilot but has since been reassigned from the deserts of the Middle East to the desert surrounding Las Vegas. Inside a windowless trailer in this desolate, isolated location, the woman who once streaked across the sky faster than the speed of sound sits remotely controlling pilotless drones for the military, and she isn't happy.

Issues of domestic gender politics are raised when it is learned that she was relieved of duty as a pilot as the result of getting pregnant. Other issues that are raised during the non-stop monologue touch upon treatment of mental health in the military, the impact of family responsibilities among those serving away from combat duty, the ethical dimension of warfare by remote control and, layered over everything, a subtle deconstruction of the masculine myth of Top Gun.

The official stage directions in the printed copy suggest only that the stage be simple and spare while leaving open the possibility for creating spectacle through multimedia. In theory, of course, a small bare-bones local theater could mount a production with nothing a few desks and computers or, if the budget was really strapped, broken computers facing away from the audience with audio effects to create the illusion. Actual products of Grounded have taken multimedia initiative to the current limits of technology with full video LED projections layering every surface of the stage. Ultimately, of course, any one-character show lives or dies on the back of the performance. That opportunity to show off some acting chops has drew Anne Hathaway to the New York production who optioned the film rights. An adaptation of the play into an opera is also in the works.

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