GROUNDED at Longstreet Theatre
George Brant's gripping drama about the psychological cost of drone warfare will be staged on the first floor of Longstreet Theatre, underneath the stage, October 8-12.
The UofSC Dept. of Theatre and Dance
by George Brant
Directed by Robert Richmond and the Company
October 8-12, 2016
1300 Greene St.
$5, available only at the door
Grounded contains intense adult themes and strong language, and is not suitable for children.
Jennifer Moody Sanchez as The Pilot.
Winner of a 2016 Lucille Lortel Award and the 2012 Smith Prize for Political Theatre, George Brant’s one-woman play tells the story of an ace fighter pilot whose sky-high career is ended early due to an unexpected pregnancy. She finds herself reassigned to a team of drone pilots, hunting overseas terrorists by day from a drab Las Vegas bunker and returning to her new family each night. This new reality begins to take a heavy psychological toll as she struggles to reconcile motherhood with the pressures of waging a war half a world away. "A searing piece of writing...gripping...a must-see" - The Guardian. “Thought provoking, thoroughly engrossing…pulses with the rhythms of an epic war poem” - TheatreMania.
Theatre program Artistic Director Robert Richmond is leading the show’s direction, which he has envisioned as a combined creative effort between himself and his artistic team of actors, designers and stage crew. It’s an approach that isn’t typical of most productions.
“What was important was that we created a situation in the rehearsal room where people weren’t working within prescribed roles and responsibilities,” says Richmond. “For example, our scenic designer will be able to engage directly with the actors, and make her creation and the actors’ creation one. We wanted them to all have the feeling that they can collaborate, talk, and have an input to all of the different areas.”
The rehearsal process isn’t the only out-of-the-ordinary approach to the production; it’s staging will be equally one-of-a-kind. While the show will be held in Longstreet Theatre, it will be performed on the building’s first floor, underneath the stage. Richmond explains, “I wanted the show to have an immersive, industrial setting, and I realized that this area in Longstreet is exactly like the concrete bunker I imagine the pilot ends up in.”
Another important factor for the unique production is that Richmond plans on touring it next year. In fact, performances have already been scheduled for February 2017 at Oklahoma City University. As he did with a version of Richard III in 2013, workshopped at the University before being staged later that year at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC, the ideas generated through this process will inform the touring production.
Guest artist Jennifer Moody Sanchez, an actor with credits both locally and throughout the country, is cast as one of two actors playing the pilot, and is helping to facilitate the students’ creative process. Undergraduate student Brooke Smith will also perform the role. Also in the company are MFA design candidate Tamara Joksimovic (scenic design) and undergraduate students Megan Branham (lighting design), Charlotte Zuraw (stage management), Curtis Smoak (technical crew), Lachlan Angle (technical crew) and Drake Dial (technical crew). Costume and sound design will be created collectively by the company.
“It’s a multi-faceted story,” says Richmond, “that deals with how our warrior class are having to adapt to a style of warfare that is rapidly changing. We meet a very confident, driven woman who, through the course of an hour-and-ten-minutes becomes completely disillusioned, and utterly at a loss to know what her life, or our life, is really about.”
“We hope this production helps us see the flip-side, as well, so we understand as much about the people being bombed as we do about the people doing the bombing.”
For more information on Grounded or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.