By Austin Kaiser
“Grounded,” a play by George Brant, is about a fighter pilot who becomes unexpectedly pregnant and is given the physically safe but psychologically fraught job of flying remote‑controlled killer drones in a war zone. She does so from a trailer in Nevada, far away from the violence and destruction she is wreaking. One day, while staring at the computer screen on which she controls the drone, the pilot—undone by the surreal, dystopian pressures of her job—hallucinates and imagines her unborn daughter in the target. She is given the order to fire, but naturally cannot bring herself to do it. Instead, she disobeys and flies her drone away. A second drone comes and fires in the crosshairs.
For the pilot, as the marketing copy for this production states, ”the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols from a world away.” Although the play frustratingly ends at its dramatic climax, we observe the pilot at work, as she gradually loses her composure. About twenty minutes into the play, she spots her first hostile target. She makes the drone attack it. “I killed me some military‑aged males today,” she says.
During the play, the pilot, played by Rhonda Wilson, meets her husband, gets pregnant, and adjusts to her new life. Her husband takes a picture of her, and makes it his desktop background. They move to an Air Force base, and her husband gets a job as a blackjack dealer.
The pilot hates drones. She loves the sky and wants to be up in the blue. These feelings are thoroughly explained through monologues about the gorgeous sky and the clay-like, bland drone screen. She insists on wearing her Air Force uniform while her coworkers are in casual clothes.
“Grounded” was famously performed by Anne Hathaway at the Public Theater in 2015, and it’s good to see this timely solo drama return to New York in this revival at the United Solo Theatre Festival this year. Its relevance has not diminished.
Performed by Rhonda Wilson
Nov. 11 at 2pm
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
AUSTIN KAISER is a writer with an expertise in art and the creative process. His writing is about improving your imagination and exercising your empathy muscle. Kaiser is currently writing a book called, “100 Questions Every Artist Should Have The Answers To.” His other book, “How To Go Viral & Put Wings On Ideas: A Book For Content Creators & Young Artists,” explains how ideas travel and which ideas travel best. More at www.medium.com/@KaiserMane.