George Brant's gripping multi-award winning monologue traverses the life of an F 16 fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky. It has been described as a tour de force play for one actor and Red Stitch is excited to take their acclaimed production to the big stage! Director Kirsten von Bibra and actor Kate Cole share their thoughts, passion and love for George Brant's punchy and poetic script.
Kirsten: Discusses the significance of the play and its impact-
The enigmatic French writer, Georges Perec, wrote a brilliant novel called Portrait of a Man. The story is told through the eyes of an artist who had become a master forger, and it is a remarkable study about fakery and what makes a work of art authentic. In a way, it provides a perfect metaphor of authenticity, and this encapsulates for me what I found so compelling in the first read of Grounded. Here was a world that felt deeply authentic.
George Brant had not only conducted thorough research and grasped the moral complexities of his subject matter, but he gave such detailed attention and poetic craft to the language through which his ideas were expressed. It is a beautifully structured and linguistically textured work. My passion is language and what makes this play truly remarkable is the playwright’s power to conjure a contemporary world through Homeric-like verse.
The idea for the play was planted when George Brant read an article stating that during the first three months of President Barack Obama’s administration, the US had conducted three times as many drone strikes as had been carried out during the entire eight years of George W Bush’s presidency. The rapid take-up of this new technology for military purposes made him ponder the human element in the operation of UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles). His enquiries led him into the world of fighter pilots who were being reassigned from flying duties to desk bound roles as operators of drones in the air half way round the world.
The play opens up, through the prism of one woman’s experience, a range of issues stemming from the complexities of modern warfare and the human cost of technological change. George Brant does not tell us what to think about those issues. Rather, he invites us to reflect on them through our exposure to the intensity of her experience. I hope that we leave the theatre with a sense that our world has been expanded.
Kate: Discusses special moments, main messages and the second time around –
The Pilot’s relationship to flying up in the blue. The indescribable almost spiritual nature of it. What an incredible thing to have in ones life. And I love all the moments where life pulls the rug from underneath her, and she just sucks it up and tries to do her best under such extreme circumstances.
It's a wake up call to make us really look at this new type of modern warfare with all its complexities, and it's also about the moral injury inflicted on those who carry out the carnage of war.
I couldn't wait to put the flight suit back on, just like how the pilot feels in the play about her suit. I can't get enough of it. There is always so much more to discover in this part the more you do it, as the play is so brilliantly written. You just keep going deeper and deeper.
Grounded opens this week at Melbourne's newest live performance venue, The Alex Theatre in St Kilda, before touring to Sydney.
April 15 – 19